Michael Pollan

I had the great pleasure of hearing Michael Pollan speak on the last stop of his book tour for Cooked. I was extremely lucky to get a seat and book signing ticket as Michael Pollan attracts many enthusiasts; the jam-packed room at BookPeople in Austin, Texas was very evident of his popularity.

Michael Pollan is an outstanding journalist, teacher, author and trailblazer who eloquently writes and speaks about food, agriculture and nutrition related topics. He has a gift of simply breaking down incredibly complicated and often controversial topics, while informing his audience through skilled story telling and soft humor.

Cooked, his latest book, focuses on doing what else, but cooking real food. As strange as it sounds, cooking is becoming a scarce act even though we all eat food, which is vital to our survival. In fact, cooking has decreased from one hour/day to 27 minutes, which directly correlates to the climbing obesity epidemic, as reported by Michael Pollan. More people are eating processed foods prepared by machines and corporations, rather than “real” wholesome food cooked by humans in kitchens. Processed foods have cheap ingredients, less water with more calories, and missing fiber.

During the book event, Michael Pollan shared his comical and interesting experiences with grilling meat with fire, cooking foods with liquid, baking bread, and fermenting foods such as cheese. He shared the three Ps to cooking success: Patience, Practice and Presence. Additionally, he saved time for Q&A on a myriad of “hot” topics.

Here are some interesting highlights:

  • Paleo Diet – It’s good in theory (eating like our ancestors); however, the issues are: 1) We are not certain of what our ancestors ate and their diets varied by region 2) It involves heavy meat consumption; meat today (unhealthy factory farm meat) is not the meat of yesterday (wild meat). 3) We’ve evolved as a species and can now digest foods such as milk.
  • Gluten – What is it? In short, wheat protein. Yes, gluten intolerance exists. But, food allergies in general are on the rise. Is gluten the problem? Or, is it the diminishing microbes in our environment/food? Do people feel better after taking gluten out of their diet or do they feel better because they’ve reduced their carb load and removed processed foods that happen to contain gluten? Hmmm…
  • Soylent & Infant Formula – Is Soylent a bogus new food formula or possible “perfect” meal replacement? Infant formula is the closest we’ve come to making a “perfect” formula and it’s still not perfect. Breast milk is still best. Real food is still best. Interesting fact: Babies can’t digest a large percentage of breast milk. Why? The indigestible sugar is intended for the “good,” protective bacteria in babies’ guts. Real food prevails…

You can learn a lot from Michael Pollan. He makes you stop and question things. He highlights the obvious, yet not-so-obvious issues with our food system. And, more importantly, he often acts as a catalyst for more research and positive change.

Have you read any of Michael Pollan’s books? If so, what is your favorite book and why? What are your thoughts on the “hot” topics above?

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