Articles Published in Media Outlets

Can Plants Think?

Plants can hear, taste and feel, as Michael Pollan writes in his latest piece for The New Yorker. But is any of that evidence of intelligence? Click here to listen.

The Intelligent Plant

In 1973, a book claiming that plants were sentient beings that feel emotions, prefer classical music to rock and roll, and can respond to the unspoken thoughts of humans hundreds of miles away landed on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. “The Secret Life of Plants,” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, presented a beguiling mashup of legitimate plant science, quack experiments, and mystical nature worship that captured the public imagination at a time when New Age thinking was seeping into the mainstream.

My Tragic Encounter With James Taylor’s Pig

The summer of 1971 was drawing to a close, and I had a large and growing problem: Kosher, my pet pig. I was 16, and the pig had been a poorly-thought-through joke gift from my father.

Podcast and video of Michael Pollan’s talk at the Sydney Opera House.

A podcast and video of Michael Pollan’s 2012 talk at the Sydney Opera House. Click here for podcast. Click here for video.

Cooked by Michael Pollan, review

It’s not often that a life-changing book falls into one’s lap. Especially, it has to be said, with “The New York Times No 1 Bestseller” splashed across the front. Yet Michael Pollan’s Cooked is one of them. One it’s impossible to read and not act on.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

A major work by an interesting thinker, this genre-busting volume will someday become a standard text in a standard university department – though no satisfactory one yet exists – that will teach and research the discipline of "Food Studies", encompassing economics, history, philosophy, anthropology, several fields of life sciences and the humanities.

Michael Pollan Talks About Braises and Barbeque

When it was time for the audience at Portland’s Newmark Theater to ask Michael Pollan a question, the first out of the gate was: what are the five things that are always in your fridge? His answer: “Eggs. Milk. Yogurt. Mustard. Ketchup.” Other people wanted to know what he thought of Mark Bittman’s idea of being vegan before

Some of My Best Friends Are Germs

I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a laboratory located at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As part of a new citizen-science initiative called the American Gut project, the lab sequenced my microbiome — that is, the genes not of “me,” exactly, but of the several hundred microbial species with whom I share this body. These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found, a pound or two of microbes together forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map.

You Are What You Cook

In his new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan takes a tour of the most time-tested cooking techniques, from southern whole-hog barbecue and slow-cooked ragus to sourdough baking and pickle making. Listen to Michael on NPR’s Science Friday or read the transcript here.

The saucier’s apprentices

Mr Pollan recognises that cooking today is very different from what it was in his grandmother’s time, and that decades from now even a limited desire to cook may be seen as quaint. This would be a shame. Real cooking (not just heating up) allows people to create, to put their own values into food, to escape the industrialised eating that has created health crises all over the world. Cooking is part of being human. The alternative is to evolve into passive consumers of standardised commodities that promise more than they deliver. Best of all, argues Mr Pollan, cooking makes people happy.