Voicings - Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan is an American author, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Pollan has written five books on food culture and politics including the best-selling The Omnivore’s Dilemma. His new book is Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, due out this spring.
"I started in gardening, and a lot of my work flows out of my experience trying to grow a little food in my backyard in Connecticut . . . That’s been my laboratory since the beginning, my garden."
"I’ve always been interested in our underestimation of plants. I’m currently doing a piece on plant “neurobiology”; they have all five senses, in one form or another."
"I’ve had moments when other people wouldn’t taste what I’ve made. I had some kimchi that I just had to get out of the house, it was so smelly. I thought it tasted great, but other members of the family were troubled by it."
"The community of fermentos, the other “culture,” has been what’s exciting about writing Cooked. When I got to fermentation, I thought, “Oh my God, this is what the whole book should’ve been about.” I was just exploding with ideas. Fermenting. It was by far the most fun to write of all the parts."
"Whereas you can make better pickles or kimchi than you can buy, and you can make equivalent beer to what you can buy, or close, I think with cheese there’s such a steep learning curve that the chances I could make a cheese worth eating, or worth serving to people, were less likely. It’s one of the few things in the new book I didn’t do at home, from scratch."
"My son’s become a cook, but I don’t deserve the credit. He was one of these kids who would only eat white food for years and years. He had ten years of eating white and dressing in black. Both were the same impulse: reduce sensory input. Watching him eat, Alice Waters said, “I was that way, too. I was so sensitive I couldn’t enjoy food . . . but he’s gonna turn a corner. It’s gonna be a great strength at some point.” And she was right. So I didn’t exactly raise a chef; I moved him to Berkeley and introduced him to Alice Waters."
"One critique I hear in lefty-academic circles is that I’m saying the way to fix the food system is to vote with your fork. I do say that, but I also say that it’s completely inadequate—you also need to vote with your votes; otherwise, you’re not going to be able to democratize this food system."
Read a more complete version of the interview here.Interview by Will Fertman