Michael Pollan | Harold Washington Library Center | Literary Events | Chicago Reader
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Michael Pollan 

When: Mon., May 18, 6 p.m. 2009
Phone: 312-747-4050
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." If the oft-quoted first line of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food (2008) is an article of modern-day foodie scripture, does that make Pollan a modern-day foodie saint? The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), his tour de force tale of four meals and their provenance, installed Pollan as an eloquent advocate for the creation of a sensible, sustainable food system, but he's always ducked canonization--when an Internet petition urging Obama to name him Secretary of Agriculture made the rounds late last year, he graciously but firmly pointed out that he was a writer and as such utterly unqualified for a cabinet post. Still, In Defense of Food, which won a James Beard award earlier this month, is nothing if not evangelistic in spreading the gospel of good eating. Pollan's point is pretty simple: we should take back our diets from industry and science and cook and consume foods in as close to their natural state as possible. The more stabilizers and emulsifiers and corn syrup in a given foodstuff, the less identifiable it is as actual, y'know, food and the more suspect its nutritional value, no matter what the wrapper claims. It's less storytelling than prescription—and as a result perhaps not the ripping read The Omnivore’s Dilemma was. But it's also a lot shorter and ultimately more optimistic in offering solid, practical advice to anyone eager to streamline food's journey from ground to gut. The reading is cosponsored by Chicago Matters. --Martha Bayne



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