[W]ith a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.Of course, these "open letters" are merely literary devices that allow a writer to use prescriptive (as opposed to descriptive) language. They are designed to provoke discussion among a publication's readers, and there is never an expectation that the intended (or imagined) recipient actually reads these things.
Except, of course, when he actually does.
From Joe Klein's sit-down interview with Obama:
I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen [sic] about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs.
I don't know what's more awesome; that we have a president-elect that has at least been introduced to Pollan's reimaginings of food or that we have a president-elect that actually reads.
As to whether Pollan's prescriptions will make an impact: we'll know if we see Michelle and the girls planting a Victory Garden in the South Lawn.