Making “Omnivore’s Dilemma” required reading doesn’t fly at agriculture college

Strike up the banned: Washington State University picked “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” as this year’s “common reading” selection for all incoming freshmen, just as UC Berkeley has for next year’s — and then dropped it, citing budget constraints. Oddly, the university had already purchased more than 4,000 copies of the book. Some on campus say that the university, which has a prominent agriculture college, bowed to pressure from agribusiness interests. (Chronicle of Higher Education; subscription required) Update: A WSU prof shares the behind-the-scenes skinny in Grist’s comments section.

8 Responsesto “Making “Omnivore’s Dilemma” required reading doesn’t fly at agriculture college”

  1. Greg says:

    Another prominent agricultural school, UC Davis, selected “Omnivore’s Dilemma” as it’s Campus Community Book Project selection in 2006. This is sad for WSU, whether or not the agribusiness pressure was real. They missed out on a great book that has the ability to spark converastion between even ideologically disparate individuals.

  2. The article doesn’t mention that in 2007 WSU’s agricultural college began offering the first organic farming degree in the US, and long before that the university’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources was doing work that challenged conventional wisdom, so to speak, so the university — or at least one strong faction within it — is not without a backbone when it comes to agribusiness’s interests.

  3. This reminds me of how the Missoula County, Montana school board decided The Story of Stuff “violated its standards on bias”! Eco-books and films are feared by the status quo….

  4. Louche says:

    Well, I was thinking, “Thank goodness!” but I will refrain from that because I haven’t actually read the book or much about it. All I can say is that the omnivore’s dilemma is really to become vegan, in my opinion. Respect animals – don’t eat them.

  5. Jen says:

    Louche, If you have not read the book or “much about it” than how do you know what the book is about?  Or do you mean “omnivore’s dilemma” in the general sense?  If so, then your opinion remains valid. I have read the book – In summary it promotes sustainable agriculture and eating locally.  It is a smart book that Big Ag needs to take a look at.  Current agricultural practices in this country cannot prevail with the growing US population.

  6. FoodBubbles says:

    I wonder what they are going to do with the 4,000 copies they already purchases.  Can they send them back?  Maybe they (or a subversive someone from the inside) can get around the Big Ag pressure by just handing them out to kids and not making it *required* reading.

  7. WSU student says:

    Well, they did hand us out the books….but…now that i think of it, I can’t remember if they said it was required…

  8. WSU freshman says:

    They handed out the books and in all freshman-focus classes it is required to read it (even though many people don’t) and write a compare/contrast essay on Omnivore’s Dilemma and an ancient civilization. I chose the Aztecs to compare the shared dependency on corn :)