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A New Day, a New Sunrise . . . (Announcing the "Michael Pollan" Fellows for 2014)

Posted Mar 29 2014 8:23am
Morning (mourning) in the montado
Drats. Just heard from Michael Pollan and Malia Wollan. I didn't get selected for the UC Berkeley 11th Hour Food and Farming Fellowship. Around 190 other folks got that same email this morning. Here are the eight people who were selected (with links added by me):

Casey Miner
David Ferry
Rebecca Kanthor
Peter Smith
Daniel Fromson
Ferris Jabr
Erica Mu
Sierra Crane-Murdoch

This looks like a really great bunch of journalists, and I'm sure the story ideas they submitted are fabulous. In fact, after my brief visits to their websites just now, I am genuinely excited to follow their journeys and see how this fellowship helps them change the world through the new stories they develop as a result.

I didn't pitch a "food-and farming" story, per se. I pitched the cork story , with the hope of bringing more folks into the conversation about how our decisions not only when we lift our forks but when we lift our glasses impact our shared global agriculture future. Here's the issue in a cork oak nutshell:

As additional research, I wanted to visit supposedly "sustainable" wineries (such as the one that produced the wine pictured in this ad running in the current issue of Modern Farmer magazine, which switched to non-sustainable screw caps not long ago for both its white and red wines), the "Bonny Doon guy" (Randall Graham, who staged a Funeral for Cork in Grand Central Station when he switch his whole wine line over to screw caps, and who is a genuinely nice/smart/interesting guy whom I enjoy following on Twitter), importers and bottlers, and even the "big guys" in Vegas who participate in extensive cork recycling to make innovative new products. I've already toured cork forests and factories in Portugal ( see my most shocking discovery ).

Here's a purely visual telling of how cork is harvested , by the way. It's a beautiful, sustainable process, and the highly-skilled workers you see in those pictures and videos are among the highest paid agricultural workers in the world. Cork is pretty much a miracle material with untapped future potential , and the cork oak forests are one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots and serve as the "green lungs of Europe." They are in serious peril due to the dropoff in the market for cork wine stoppers.

Well, in the spirit of "a new day, a new sunrise" (such as the one pictured on the top of this post, from a morning walk I took in the "montado" cork oak forest of Portugal), I'll share with you my pitch. There's a place in the world for this story, even if it's just here on FoodShed Planet. Oh, and big thanks to Rashid Nuri and Daron "Farmer D" Joffe for your generous letters of recommendation, and your mentoring and friendship throughout the years. As Stymie says in the classic television show, The Little Rascals, "I don't know where we goin', but we're on our way."

Thank you, Michael and Malia, for providing this valuable opportunity to these eight journalists. I look forward to seeing what's next. For them, and for me.

eclectic food-for-thought for a changing world
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