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Michael Pollan in NY Mag: “Food is ecological as well as sociological”

17 Apr 2013


Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, hits the shelves next week. Here’s an excerpt from his excellent Q&A with New York Magazine‘s Adam Platt, available in full on their website …

Did you ever dream that you’d find yourself as a sort of high priest of food?

I’m a little troubled by that role. I don’t want to be the food superego for people. I don’t have the answers, and I really want people to work this stuff out on their own.

I’m not a scientist. Like a lot of journalists, I go out and talk to a lot of people who know much more than I do. And I’m always surprised when they think I’ve got something new to tell them after I’ve published. You’ll talk to a bunch of scientists, you’ll write a story about what they’re doing, and then they’ll invite you to their next meeting as if you have original information. You don’t. What you have is the ability to synthesize and tell a story.

What’s that story?
That food is ecological as well as sociological—that the way we eat is connected to the environment and to the health of the land.

My early work really did grow out of gardens. My idea was that you could understand a relationship to the natural world by looking in these places Americans hadn’t looked very much—the garden, the dinner plate, the farm. In general, when Americans want to think about nature, they go to wild places. And I’ve always thought of myself as a nature writer who doesn’t like to go camping or go too far from home. But nature is right here. It’s right under our noses.”

There’s so much more over at New York

Pollan spoke to a packed house here in Far West Texas as part of Marfa Dialogues 2012. If you’re in the mood for more, take a listen to Joe Nick Patoski’s interview with him over at Marfa Public Radio.