(AP) MADISON, Wis. — One best-selling book advocating fresh, local foods is shaking up America's Dairyland.
Michael Pollan's book titled "In Defense of Food" urges readers to "eat food, mostly plants," and is the subject of a new program in which incoming freshmen can get the book free and many professors are using it in classes. Pollan will give a lecture at 7 p.m. this evening at the 17,000-seat Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
The book program has people from the classroom to the farmlands jumping into the debate over the American diet and food production system.
Some dairy farmers see the book as an attack on modern farming and are speaking out against Pollan's views. University food scientists are also criticizing Pollan's claims. And the growing local food movement is using the opportunity to spread its message.
The book urges readers to "eat food, not too much, mostly plants" and criticizes food companies and scientists for replacing traditional foods with unhealthier, highly processed substitutes and confusing consumers with health claims.
Kelsey Ward, an 18-year-old freshman from Naperville, Ill., said she's talked about the book in chemistry and diversity classes, and with her roommate, a food science major.
"It's really cool how they've connected everyone on campus through this project," she said. The book, which earlier this year won the James Beard Foundation Award for best food writing, has prompted her to eat more salads and fewer processed foods.
But not everyone is so excited.
Bill Bruins, who has a dairy farm near Waupun and is president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, called the book "a direct attack on the way we farm today." His group is working with the university to have farmers go into classrooms to present their points of view.
"Pollan has narrow and elitist ideas about how you should eat and how farmers should (or shouldn't) feed a hungry and growing world," Bruins wrote on the farm bureau's Web site.
Pollan's Thursday lecture is in an arena normally reserved for presidential candidates and rock stars.
Hundreds of farmers wearing green will be there, too, ready to answer questions about food production and tell their side of the story, said Laura Daniels, a dairy farmer in Cobb, Wis., who is organizing the group.
"To imagine the Kohl Center filled not only with faculty and students but with farmers and foodies from all over the state and beyond is extraordinarily exciting," said Sara Guyer, director of the Center for the Humanities and professor of English who was on the selection committee for the book.
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