Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Controversial book focus of UW-Madison project

by Jim Massey

Wisconsin agriculture groups say they're concerned about a new UW-Madison program that encourages students to read a book critical of mainstream agriculture and the U.S. food system.

The program, known as "Go Big Read," invites students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community to read a selected book and participate in campus discussions and community events. New chancellor Carolyn "Biddy" Martin initiated the program.

The university is providing the book free to students and faculty members. A UW-Madison Web site says professors in 48 different courses will be incorporating discussion about the book in their curriculum. The program is targeted at freshmen, but other students also will participate.

The book is Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto." In the book, Pollan examines the modern American food landscape, where he says the deceptively simple question of what to eat has been muddled by the numerous and often conflicting claims of food producers, marketers and nutrition experts.

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