World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Michael Pollan

Article Id: WHEBN0001875303
Reproduction Date:

Title: Michael Pollan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, A Place of My Own, The Botany of Desire, In Defense of Food, Eating Animals
Collection: 1955 Births, 20Th-Century American Writers, 21St-Century American Writers, Agrarian Theorists, Alumni of Mansfield College, Oxford, American Botanical Writers, American Food Writers, American Jews, American Journalists, American Magazine Editors, American Male Journalists, American Male Writers, American Non-Fiction Environmental Writers, American Science Writers, Bennington College Alumni, Columbia University Alumni, Journalism Teachers, Living People, University of California, Berkeley Faculty, Writers from the San Francisco Bay Area
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan
Pollan speaking at Yale University, 2011
Born 1955 (age 60–61)[1]
Long Island, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Bennington College
Columbia University
Occupation Author, journalist, professor
Family Tracy Pollan (sister)
Michael J. Fox (brother-in-law)
Website .comMichaelPollan

Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.[2]


  • Early years 1
  • Career 2
    • Books 2.1
    • Other work 2.2
  • Reception 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early years

Pollan was born in Long Island, New York, into a Jewish family.[3] He is the son of author and financial consultant Stephen Pollan and columnist Corky Pollan.[4] Pollan received a B.A. in English from Bennington College in 1977 and an M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1981.[5]



In hunter-gatherer. Pollan follows each of these processes—from a group of plants photosynthesizing calories through a series of intermediate stages, ultimately into a meal. Along the way, he suggests that there is a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry, that the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world, and that industrial eating obscures crucially important ecological relationships and connections. On December 10, 2006 The New York Times named The Omnivore's Dilemma one of the five best nonfiction books of the year. On May 8, 2007, the James Beard Foundation named The Omnivore's Dilemma its 2007 winner for the best food writing. It was the book of focus for the University of Pennsylvania's Reading Project in 2007, and the book of choice for Washington State University's Common Reading Program in 2009–10.

Michael Pollan speaks to the Marin Academy community.

Pollan's discussion of the industrial food chain is in large part a critique of modern United States Department of Agriculture, Wall Street capitalists, and agricultural conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland) of what he calls a destructive and precarious agricultural system that has wrought havoc upon the diet, nutrition, and well-being of Americans. Pollan finds hope in Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm in Virginia, which he sees as a model of sustainability in commercial farming. Pollan appears in the documentary film King Corn (2007).

In The Botany of Desire, Pollan explores the concept of co-evolution, specifically of humankind's evolutionary relationship with four plants — apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes — from the dual perspectives of humans and the plants. He uses case examples that fit the archetype of four basic human desires, demonstrating how each of these botanical species are selectively grown, bred, and genetically engineered. The apple reflects the desire for sweetness, the tulip beauty, the marijuana intoxication, and the potato control. Pollan then unravels the narrative of his own experience with each of the plants, which he intertwines with a well-researched exploration into their social history. Each section presents a unique element of human domestication, or the "human bumblebee" as Pollan calls it. These range from the true story of Johnny Appleseed to Pollan's first-hand research with sophisticated marijuana hybrids in Amsterdam, to the alarming and paradigm-shifting possibilities of genetically engineered potatoes.

Pollan speaking at TED in 2007

Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, released on January 1, 2008, explores the relationship with what he terms nutritionism and the Western diet, with a focus on late 20th century food advice given by the science community. Pollan holds that consumption of fat and dietary cholesterol does not lead to a higher rate of coronary disease, and that the reductive analysis of food into nutrient components is a mistake. He questions the view that the point of eating is to promote health, pointing out that this attitude is not universal and that cultures that perceive food as having purposes of pleasure, identity, and sociality may end up with better health. He explains this seeming paradox by vetting, and then validating, the notion that nutritionism and, therefore, the whole Western framework through which we intellectualize the value of food is more a religious and faddish devotion to the mythology of simple solutions than a convincing and reliable conclusion of incontrovertible scientific research. Pollan spends the rest of his book explicating his first three phrases: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He contends that most of what Americans now buy in supermarkets, fast food stores, and restaurants is not in fact food, and that a practical tip is to eat only those things that people of his grandmother's generation would have recognized as food.

Later, he tempers that injunction: to eat what your great-great-grandmother's generation would have recognized as food, but that is solely to vilify sugar – this being approximately when refined sugar became generally accessible.

In 2009, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual was published. This short work is a condensed version of his previous efforts, intended to provide a simple framework for healthy and sustainable diet. It is divided into three sections, further explicating Pollan's principles of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It includes his rules (i.e., "let others sample your food" and "the whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead").

In classical elements of Fire (cooking with heat), Water (braising and boiling with pots), Air (breadmaking), and Earth (fermenting).

Pollan has contributed to Greater Good, a social psychology magazine published by the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley. His article "Edible Ethics" discusses the intersection of ethical eating and social psychology.

In his 1998 book A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder, Pollan methodically traced the design and construction of the out-building where he writes. The 2008 re-release of this book was re-titled A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams.

In 2014 Pollan wrote the foreword in the healthy eating cookbook The Pollan Family Table. The book is co-authored by his mother Corky Pollan and sisters Lori Pollan, Dana Pollan, and Tracy Pollan.

Other work

Michael Pollan at Yale

Pollan is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, a former executive editor for Harper's Magazine, and author of five books: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008) The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006), The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (2001), A Place of My Own (1997), and Second Nature: A Gardener's Education (1991).

His recent work has dealt with the practices of the meat industry, and he has written a number of articles on trends in American agriculture. He has received the Reuters World Conservation Union Global Awards in environmental journalism, the James Beard Foundation Awards for best magazine series in 2003, and the Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States. His articles have been anthologized in Best American Science Writing (2004), Best American Essays (1990 and 2003), The Animals: Practicing Complexity (2006) and the Norton Book of Nature Writing (1990).

Pollan co-starred in the documentary, Food, Inc. (2008), for which he was also a consultant. In 2010 Pollan was interviewed for the film Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?, a feature-length documentary about honey bees and colony collapse disorder.[6] He was also interviewed for Vanishing of the Bees, a documentary also about colony collapse, directed by Maryam Henein and George Langworthy.


Pollan began appearing in the mainstream media with a message that was less critical of agribusiness than John Robbins and Howard Lyman. Unlike Robbins and Lyman, who were "insiders" to the working of the meat and dairy industry, Pollan has instead been critical of veganism, writing an article on the history of animal rights for the New York Times Magazine that ignored the history of vegetarianism and animal rights before the industrial revolution and in the Far East. And unlike Chris Hedges, Pollan downplays the destructive impact of small farm agriculture. Writing in the American Enterprise Institute's magazine, Blake Hurst argues that Pollan offers a shallow assessment of factory farming that does not take cost into account.[7] Daniel Engber criticized Pollan in Slate for arguing that food is too complex a subject to study scientifically and blaming reductionism for today's health ills, while at the same time using nutritional research to justify his own diet advice. He compares Pollan's "straight-forward" "anti-scientific method" based on only rhetoric to that used by health gurus of history who have peddled diet scams.[8]

Pollan's work was also discussed and criticized by Jonathan Safran Foer in his non-fiction book Eating Animals. Foer criticizes Pollan's argument regarding table-fellowship. Pollan claims that a vegetarian dinner guest causes socially reprimandable inconvenience for the host. Foer responds that in the year 2010 it is easier for hosts to accommodate vegetarians than locavores as hosts will need to do extensive research to find (expensive) non factory-farmed meat.[9]

Pollan has been accused by Jon Entine, who supports GMOs, of using his influence to promote "anti-GMO junk science". A number of pro-GMO scientists and journalists have similarly characterized Pollan's work as biased against GMOs. For example, University of California-Berkeley biologist Michael Eisen said of Pollan's attack on a New York Times article on GMOs, that it was "a new low even in Pollan's 'anti-GMO crusade'".[10]


  • Pollan Family Table. New York: Scribner. 2014.  
  • Pollan, Michael (April 1997). "Opium Made Easy".  
  • Pollan, Michael (July 19, 2002). "When a Crop Becomes King". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (November 10, 2002). "An Animal's Place". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (June 4, 2006). "Mass Natural". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (June 11, 2006). "Six rules for eating wisely". Time magazine. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (January 28, 2007). "Unhappy Meals". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (April 22, 2007). "You Are What You Grow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (December 16, 2007). "Our Decrepit Food Factories". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (April 20, 2008). "Why bother?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  • Pollan, Michael (October 9, 2008). "An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  • Pollan, Michael (July 29, 2009). "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  • Pollan, Michael (September 9, 2009). "Big Food vs. Big Insurance". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  • Pollan, Michael (December 23–30, 2013). "A Reporter at Large: The Intelligent Plant".  
  • Pollan, Michael (February 9, 2015). "The Trip Treatment".  
  • Michael Pollan (June 4, 2001). A Plant's-Eye View Of The World (audio). Interview with  
  • Michael Pollan (September 2004). The Cheapest Calories Make You the Fattest (transcript). Interview with Helen Wagenvoord.  
  • Michael Pollan (Spring–Summer 2006). Edible Ethics (transcript). Interview with Jason Marsh.  
  • Michael Pollan (February 13, 2008). In Defense of Food (video/audio/transcript). Interview with  
  • Michael Pollan (October 30, 2008). An Evening with Michael Pollan (audio). Interview with  
  • Michael Pollan (November 28, 2008). Interview (video/transcript). Interview with  
  • Michael Pollan (June 25, 2009). Food and Fossil Fuels (video). Interview with Melissa Moser. Powering A Nation: UNC News21 Project. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  • Michael Pollan (June 25, 2009). Checking Out Michael Pollan's Garden (video). Interview with Melissa Moser. Powering A Nation: UNC News21 Project. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  • Michael Pollan (May 23, 2009). What's for Dinner with Michael Pollan (audio). Interview with Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau. The Kathleen Show. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  • Michael Pollan (June 22, 2009). Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis interview: Michael Pollan. Sponsored by Gaiam. (video). Interview with Waylon Lewis. Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  • Michael Pollan (October 24, 2012). California's Prop 37 Fight. (video). Interview with Amy Goodman. Democracy Now. Retrieved 2012-10-24. 


  1. ^ "About Michael Pollan". Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ Graduate School of Journalism (2008). "Faculty: Michael Pollan". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  3. ^ STEVE LINDE, A. SPIRO, G, HOFFMAN (May 25, 2012). "50 most influential Jews: Places 31-40". Retrieved May 26, 2013. Michael Pollan, 57 
  4. ^ Helen Wagenvoord (May 2, 2004). "The High Price of Cheap Food". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  5. ^ Russell Schoch (January 4, 2004). "Q & A: A Conversation with Michael Pollan". California Monthly. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  6. ^ Michael Pollan. Queen of the Sun.
  7. ^ Hurst, Blake. "The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals". 
  8. ^ Engber, Daniel. "Survival of the Yummiest: Should we buy Michael Pollan's nutritional Darwinism?". 
  9. ^ "Jonathan Safran Foer Takes on Michael Pollan". Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ Michael Pollan Promotes 'Denialist' Anti-GMO Junk Science, Says He Manipulates New York Times' Editors, Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, is a senior fellow at the Center for Health & Risk Communication and STATS (Statistical Assessment Service) at George Mason University. Forbes, October 24, 2013.

External links

  • Official site
  • Works by or about Michael Pollan in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • (video) Michael Pollan on the Politics of Food from UC Television (UCTV)
  • Michael Pollan at the Internet Movie Database
  • "The omnivore's next dilemma" at TED Talks
  • "In Defense of Food" at The Free Library of Philadelphia, January 10, 2008
  • Skewed View from the Berkeley Hills: Why Michael Pollan and Alice Waters should quit celebrating food-price hikes by Tom Philpott, Grist, April 4, 2009.
  • Food and Fossil Fuels by Melissa Moser, UNC News 21 Project, [2], June 25, 2009
  • Why are Farmers Afraid of Michael Pollan? by Jim Goodman, CounterPunch, September 25, 2009
  • "Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual"Michael Pollan on – video report by Democracy Now!
  • Pollan Family Table
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.