Remember: Free copies of Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” available to students

This fall, UW-Madison will launch Go Big Read, a common reading program intended to engage students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members in a shared, academically focused reading experience. Chancellor Biddy Martin has selected “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” by Michael Pollan, as the book for the inaugural year.

Pollan will visit campus September 24-26 and speak at a free public event September 24th at the Kohl Center. The libraries have acquired copies of the books to give away to students participating in the program. Students enrolled in courses using the book will have the highest priority for receiving a free copy. We’ve tried to make it easy to apply for free copies of the book for your course. Just fill out the online form at

By applying for copies early, you will ensure sufficient stocks for all and help us to collect some information on how the book is being used across campus. Students will be able to pick up their free copies during Welcome Week.

Published in 2008, “In Defense of Food” examines the modern American food landscape, where, Pollan 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. Not everyone will agree with Pollan, but his presentation of ideas is well written and intelligently polemical.

“Michael Pollan has emerged as one of our nation’s wittiest and most intelligent commentators on food, agriculture, and our complex relationships with the natural world,” says Bill Cronon, director of the Center for Culture, History and Environment. “He takes serious ideas and helps make them accessible with clarity, storytelling, and fun. ‘In Defense of Food’ is a short, lively, engaging book that is easy to read but so full of ideas that you’ll keep returning to its arguments over and over again whether you’re preparing a meal, eating in a restaurant or shopping in the grocery store.”

If you have questions or suggestions about the book distribution or programming, please send them to

Ken Frazier, Director
UW-Madison General Library System