2010-2011 Writers at Rutgers Reading Series - Archive
When: Wednesday, October 06, 2010, 08:00pm
Where: College Avenue Gym - 130 College Avenue, New Brunswick NJ, US, 08901-1161
Category: 2010-2011 Writers at Rutgers Reading Series
In Defense of Food: The Omnivore’s Solution
Real food--the kind of food your great-grandmother would recognize as food—is being undermined by science on one side and the food industry on the other, both of whom want us focus on nutrients, good and bad, rather than actual plants, animals and fungi. The rise of “nutritionism” has vastly complicated the lives of American eaters without doing anything for our health, except possibly to make it worse. Nutritionism arose to deal with a genuine problem--the fact that the modern American diet is responsible for an epidemic of chronic diseases, from obesity and type II diabetes to heart disease and many cancers--but it has obscured the real roots of that problem and stood in the way of a solution. That solution involves putting the focus back on foods and food chains, for it turns out our personal health cannot be divorced from the health of the soil, plants, and animals that make up the food chains in which we take part. In this talk, Pollan explores what the industrialization of food and agriculture has meant for our health and happiness as eaters, and looks at the growing national movement to renovate the food system.
For the past twenty years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs, and architecture. He is the author of the bestsellers In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award for best food writing, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Pollan's previous book, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, was also a New York Times bestseller, received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best non-fiction work of 2001, and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon.com. PBS premiered a two-hour special documentary based on The Botany of Desire in fall 2009. His most recent book is Food Rules, which was an immediate # 1 New York Times bestseller upon publication.
He is also the author of A Place of My Own (1997) and Second Nature (1991). A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine since 1987, his writing has received numerous awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003; the John Burroughs prize (for the best natural history essay in 1997); the QPB New Vision Award (for his first book, Second Nature); the 2000 Reuters-I.U.C.N. Global Award for Environmental Journalism for his reporting on genetically modified crops; and the 2003 Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture. In 2009 he was named one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders” by Newsweek magazine. His essays have appeared in many anthologies, including Best American Essays (the 1990 and 2003 editions), Best American Science Writing (2004), and the Norton Book of Nature Writing. In addition to publishing regularly in The New York Times Magazine, his articles have appeared in Harper’s (where he served for many years as executive editor), Mother Jones, Gourmet, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Gardens Illustrated, and The Nation. Michael Pollan was chosen by Time Magazine for the 2010 Time 100 in the Thinkers category.
In 2003, Pollan was appointed the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. In addition to teaching, he lectures widely on food, agriculture, and gardening.
Michael Pollan, who was born in 1955, grew up on Long Island, and was educated at Bennington College, Oxford University, and Columbia University, from which he received a Master’s in English. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son, Isaac.