U.S. Editor, Reuters.com, Brooklyn, NY
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Michael Pollan: “What’s in the beef?”


Photo by Kris KrügWhere does your burger come from? Journalist and food writer Michael Pollan has traced back the source of much of what we eat, and says that the ultimate answer is oil. Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, argues that it takes massive amounts of petroleum-derived fertilizers and pesticides to run industrial farms and feed lots, with dire consequences for human health and the Earth’s climate.Check out Pollan’s multimedia presentation below, from the Poptech conference in Camden, Maine last month.[Editor’s note: After some Reuters fact-checking, Pollan withdrew his Poptech assertion that “A vegan in a Hummer has a smaller carbon footprint than a meat-eater in a Prius,” and his statement has been edited out of the video. The erroneous meme has nevertheless continued to spread on Twitter]Click here for Reuters Poptech coverageClick here for more Poptech videosMore on the Future of Food:Is Monsanto the answer or the problem?The fight over the future of foodIs Africa selling out its farmers?India’s food dilemma: high prices or shortages

Oct 26, 2009
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Crunching the numbers on a vegan in a Hummer

Photo by Kris Krüg

(Updated below with Michael Pollan’s response)

You want some petroleum with that Big Mac?

Journalist and food writer Michael Pollan broke down the hidden cost of America’s best-known burger on Saturday to an eager audience at the Poptech conference. He traced the Big Mac’s origins all the way back to the oil fields, used to make fertilizer that is crucial to the corn grown for cows in massive feeds lots.

“Our meat eating is one of the most important contributors we make to climate change,” said Pollan, who is best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

Oct 24, 2009
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Nike, the albatross, and sustainable design

A dead baby albatross is a tough act to follow.

Nike’s Lorrie Vogel took the stage at Poptech this week to talk about the company’s sustainable product design efforts.

Immediately preceding her was an devastating presentation from photographer Chris Jordan, who shared a series of photographs from Midway Atoll of baby albatrosses who had died from ingesting plastic from the massive Pacific Garbage Patch.

Oct 23, 2009
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Victims of the Pacific Trash Gyre

Midway by Chris Jordan

Have you ever seen 500 people stunned into a complete and devastated silence?

Photographer Chris Jordan shared a sobering tale of his journey to Midway Atoll with the Poptech conference on Thursday, where he captured horrifying images of baby birds killed by plastic from the Pacific Trash Gyre. The crowd, which had been listening to a day of Big Ideas, was dumbstruck.

Oct 23, 2009
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Wall Street shenanigans and the pursuit of happiness

Can’t get enough of behavioral economist Dan Ariely? That certainly seems to be a common condition at the Poptech conference in Camden, ME this week.

Ariely gave a mind-bending talk about the counter-intuitive notion that paying people more can actually make them perform more poorly — at almost the exact moment that Obama’s pay czar was unveiling plans to slash the bonuses of top banking and automotive executives by about 90 percent.

    • About Adam

      "I'm a nine-year Reuters veteran who has covered a range of technology and media beats in New York and London. In 2006 I was the founding Reuters bureau chief in Second Life, a virtual world with its own currency and economy."
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