WSU's Locavore Dilemma

Somehow I missed this story from a week ago in the Spokesman Review. After MIchael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma was chosen as a book for all incoming WSU freshman to read, the President and Provost pulled the plug, citing financial constraints. Only problem is, they've already purchased the 4,000 books. Critics of the decision not to distribute claim that it was political pressure rising from the book's critique of industrial ag that is the source of the decision. The article says;

That political pressure apparently was brought to bear by a member ofthe board of regents, Harold Cochran, who disapproved of the author’s characterization of agribusiness. Cochran owns and operates a 5,500-acre farm near Walla Walla, is a founding stockholder in the Bank of the West in Walla Walla and is a member of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers.

I had a meeting in Clarkston all day today so I had 4 hours of driving through the Palouse. They were out spraying something on the young shoots of spring wheat. It really is a glorious wonder and it is amazing how productive the land is - BUT - I couldn't help but notice the dust flying off into the ethers as the tractors swept over the rolling vistas. There were a couple of folks out tilling up the soil and they really were sending some substantial soil to the wind. I thought of this post from last year.

I am certainly no farmer but I would like to see more public engagement around the sustainability of farming practices on the Palouse. Apparently many at WSU feel the same and others aren't as interested in engaging these issues.

On my reading list for the summer is the book by UW professor David Montgomery called Dirt. He had this to say last year with the Seattle PI:

Call it the thin brown line. Dirt. On average, the planet is covered with little more than 3 feet of topsoil -- the shallow skin of nutrient-rich matter that sustains most of our food and appears to play a critical role in supporting life on Earth.

"We're losing more and more of it every day," said David Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington. "The estimate is that we are now losing about 1 percent of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this caused by agriculture."

Apparently in the book he compares two farms in the Spokane Valley. Can't wait to dig in. More on this later.