Michael Pollan Cooks

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Michael Pollan, food activist and author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, discusses how cooking changes food...and our relationship to the food industry. He sets out to use fire, water, air and earth to transform food via grilling, braising, baking and fermenting and talks about how more cooking means less industrial food.

→ EVENT: Michael Pollan at the 92nd Street Y, Tuesday, May 13, 8 p.m.


Michael Pollan

Comments [22]


I've been growing a lot of my own food, including raising chickens, for more than five years now, and I've come to realize how dreadful most restaurant and store food is. It's really shocking that people put up with the stuff that passes for food these days. Cooking for yourself is rather easy, and you get to decide exactly what goes into your mouth. Cities and urban areas should be laced with small one to five acre farms so that people could drop by on their way home from work and buy up produce picked that day and eggs laid just hours ago.

May. 17 2014 05:16 PM
m beth from Long Island, NY

Please share with Michael: my husband and I have been eating better since I retired and have time to shop for real food, and the time to cook it. Also, our 35 year old son, who is a marathoner, eats better than we do, and has introduced us to farmers' markets, which he shops at each Saturday morning in his Sacramento neighborhood. He loves steamed veg: especially broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower. Also, kale chips and real yogurt.

May. 13 2014 05:44 PM

Also fresh mashed potatoes[milk and salt, no butter -boil the potatoes;potatoes can go in a pot of cold water, no need to wait till the water boils if they're not peeled- cool ,peel then mash with warm milk] and eaten with Jones pork dinner sausage.

May. 13 2014 01:57 PM
Keira from Manhattan

So the battle lines are drawn...your "mother's" cooking vs "guy" gardeners?—gentleman start your grills! For an cogent but brief counter to this "it's a man's, man's, man's, man's world" have a look at ""Acknowledging women's role in the sustainable food movement":

written by... Tom Philpott... : )

May. 13 2014 01:45 PM

I grew up eating fresh vegetables; fresh asparagus, fresh artichokes;asparagus or artichokes, boiled in water till soft, cooled and then eaten[dipped in] with a vinaigrette [of corn oil and red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt], fresh peas[spring and summer], carrots[winter and fall], always in season. We salad of Bibb[Boston ] lettuce and tomatoes in season[never plum but regular tomatoes].We ate salad Nicoise in spring and summer. We ate bananas year round, and citrus fruit and apples in winter and berries, peaches, apricots, plums pears, and watermelon in summer. We ate plain yogurt sweetened with sugar, back when everyone ridiculed us for it. My neighbors thought eating yogurt was disgusting. We also are Rice a Roni[herb and butter]or Uncle Ben's long gran and wild rice, and frozen creamed spinach[Stouffers]. We drank soda never milk[I was lactose intolerant and my mom thought milk was for babies only and drinking it was disgusting]. We ate chunks of imported Swiss cheese, camebert and brie cheese, genoa salami, mortadella, roast beef, and fresh potato salad[oil and vinegar dressing], French bread and ate home cooked meals; steak and home made French fries ,roast chicken , fried fish , beef Bourgignon, coq au vin, macaroni and cheese[Swiss cheese], even though my mother worked. If this sounds snobbish ,it wasn't; this was basic food to my mother. Oh and spaghetti and meat sauce; made with a powdered spice mix; Knorr or Kraft I think. For breakfast I had sweetened Lipton tea with a chunk of bread and butter with jam. After school we each had one fresh baked good from a bakery.[My favorite was a chocolate éclair]. Never had a t.v. dinner or frozen or canned foods[except the frozen creamed spinach and frozen Stouffer's chicken pot pies and canned petite pois "le Seur" brand canned peas in winter when fresh peas were not in season. Growing up no one was into food except my Italian American neighbors. The country caught up with us.

May. 13 2014 01:43 PM
Rudi from NYC

Fast-food manufacturers surely aren't the only executives who don't use the product they make. Is it likely that the executives of Time Warner Cable have much time to watch TV? Obviously they don't. Or they get some kind of special service, and of course cost is not an issue to them one way or another.

May. 13 2014 12:02 PM
CATHY from Hoboken, NJ

I grew up in the 70s. My mother used many more processed foods than I do: bottled salad dressings, bottled lemon juice, instant mashed potatoes,frozen vegetables, etc. I use many more fresh and whole foods and cook and bake from scratch. My mother considers this a ridiculous and trendy waste of time. She sees pre-made and processed foods as part of feminism in that they liberated women from the kitchen.

May. 13 2014 11:53 AM
JerseyJazz from Bergen County, NJ

My mom cooked Mediterranean and so do I. She was a first-generation Italian-American, born in 1916. We grew up eating lentils, fennel, and other things foreign even to our neighbors in ethnic Hudson County, NJ. We never had a banana in the house, nor peanut butter (both things still make me gag). We ate salad after the main meal. It wasn't until I got to college that I saw it done the other way.

However, Mom loved to use Accent -- yup, that's MSG. It does make food taste better, but I don't use it because it gives me headaches. Also she loved to serve well-marbled meat, especially to company. Being able to afford good meat was a sign of prosperity. No wonder so many in her generation had heart disease, sadly.

May. 13 2014 11:50 AM
Amy from Manhattan

For CSA members who have trouble finding space (in their kitchens *&* their stomachs!) for all the food in their share, many CSAs let you split a share w/another member. (Even splitting a share, when I joined a CSA, it was the 1st time I ever filled *both* cooler drawers w/produce.)

May. 13 2014 11:47 AM
Katherine from NYC

What is Mr. Pollan's take on the following question: How can we get more Americans to cook at home? It's more healthy, more economical, and not actually that time-consuming. How to get more Americans cooking!? Thanks!

May. 13 2014 11:44 AM
Robin from Bklyn

I grew up in the 70s and 80s and my mom was a health nut but the food tasted awful! She would boil vegetables and then we'd have to drink the water to get the vitamins but the veggies were gray and mushy. Milk was powdered skim with lumps. I didn't like any vegetables at all until I lived in a coop in college and learned (and taught her) how to roast and braise and grill and season things. So our kitchens are different in favors. (She did make canned soup though and I haven't had a can of soup in 20 years. I didn't know you COULD make pasta sauce and soup from scratch when I was a kid. )

May. 13 2014 11:41 AM
Rita from NYC

I meant that I make more vegetable-centered meals than my mom did.

May. 13 2014 11:40 AM
Wendy Wilson from Midstate Jersey

I grew up in the 60s and 70s. We were poor and my mother worked, but she cooked from scratch mostly, every night. The only manufactured food I remember is Bisquick, canned fruit salad, yogurt, ice cream and peanut butter. We make our own peanut butter and yogurt and sorbet.

May. 13 2014 11:40 AM
Rita from NYC

Difference in our kitchens: my mother had only basic modern appliances, i.e., a stove, fridge w/ small freezer and blender. I have "the works" -- but when she moved in with my family in the last year of her life, my mom brought her own pots!

May. 13 2014 11:39 AM
Rita from NYC

My late mother was an Italian-American cook, and so am I. We cook "from scratch." The difference, however, is that my mother used frozen or, occasionally, canned vegetables, and prepared meat-centered foods, whereas I cook only with fresh vegetables (occasionally, canned tomatoes or frozen peas) and make many more fish and meat-centered meals. We both made lots of bean soups, although I don't use canned beans.

Note that my mother's home-cooking -- very few processed foods, unless you count canned chickpeas or plain, unsauced, frozen veggies as processed -- kept everyone very healthy. Both she and my Dad lived to age 90. Her sibs, who ate the same way, are alive at 91 and 94, and a sister-in-law, taught to cook (real, not cheese-laden and fried)` Italian by my grandmother, is alive at age 94, too.

May. 13 2014 11:37 AM
henry from md

Brian, what is Pollan's website?

May. 13 2014 11:37 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'd like to hear more about the effect of processed food on the microbiome. I thought I'd heard & read a lot about the microbiome, but this is the 1st time I've heard about this aspect.

May. 13 2014 11:34 AM
khadija Boyd from Brooklyn

Brian! U had time for a garden while at University? Bravo! Ur story reminds me of small plots on the outskirts of Amsterdam for gardening. Delightful! Did not about same in Albany. kind regards, k

May. 13 2014 11:30 AM
Carol Davis from NJ

My mom's kitchen was neat, orderly, and traditional in terms of a meat and potatoes diet. She was a lousy cook.

My kitchen is vegan, looks like it is cooked in daily, and my husband and I are excellent chefs! In fact, we are working on a cookbook for veganizing traditional recipes.

May. 13 2014 11:28 AM
bernie from bklyn

oh pollan...can we talk about the non-existant food deserts once again?

May. 13 2014 11:16 AM
janny1006 from jersey city

I grew up in the Midwest in the 70's eating Hamburger Helper, boiled franks and beans, and burgers grilled in a greasy pan. Salad was iceberg lettuce with a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise as "1000 Island" dressing. I honestly don't think I had a fresh vegetable (Green Giant frozen blocks in butter sauce for us!) until i moved to NYC in 1980 for college!

May. 13 2014 11:05 AM
John from Bklyn

It’s always fun to hear this scientific illiterate spouting his catchy slogans - which seem so commonsensical to other scientific illiterates.

May. 13 2014 10:16 AM

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