Michael Pollan is a genius. In his article for the October 12 New York Times Sunday Magazine food issue, he appraises some dire problems with the economy, health, the environment, energy and security, not to mention animal welfare, and comes up with a solution that may not save the world, but certainly gives us an extra few years. His answer: Rotate crops and buy local. We should be, he says, “shifting the American diet from a foundation of imported fossil fuel to local sunshine.”

He maintains that we’ve traded short-term productivity for just about everything else, and that an agonizingly long list of American ills, including oil dependency, a food supply vulnerable to contamination, and childhood obesity, would be helped (if not cured) by changing the food infrastructure. Pollan quotes Wendell Berry, who described the agri-mess that we made: “to take animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to take an elegant solution—animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete—and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot.”

And he’s got answers.

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