The Wooleen Way: Renewing an Australian resource (David Pollock, Scribe)
David Pollock, a second-generation pastoralist from Western Australia, describes a wicked environmental problem in his memoir The Wooleen Way. Animals produced for food—beef in particular—eat native grasses and plants, degrading the Australian landscape and creating conditions ripe for drought. Additionally, meat and dairy are too cheap, especially when soil degradation is priced in. There is merit to a plant-based diet, as grains are a far more efficient, environmentally friendly way of producing calories. Australia, however, remains a mostly carnivorous society. Pollock encapsulates the problem neatly: ‘We are for conservation, but also for the production of meat—two things that don’t often go hand in hand.’ What to do? Pollock believes it is possible to take pressure off the land by rotating cattle onto different grazing areas, a delicate balancing act that gives the land a chance, and a process he is experimenting with as he writes. Pastoralism is often seen through the prism of politics. The Wooleen Way, named after the author’s leasehold property, provides much needed clarity on the subject. Written in simple, accessible language devoid of cant or dogma, this is a work of bracing intellectual honesty. All Australians who take environmental issues seriously must read this book.
Chris Saliba is a co-owner of North Melbourne Books and a freelance reviewer