In all the complex contemporary debates around food, Michael Pollan’s advice is as simple as it is revolutionary: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’. In his bestselling calls-to-arms, In Defence of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he applies his omnivorous mind to the politics and pleasures of eating.
Real food – the kind of food your great-grandmother would recognise as food – is being undermined by science on one side and the food industry on the other, both of which want us to focus on nutrients, good and bad, rather than actual plants, animals and fungi.
The rise of ‘nutritionism’ has vastly complicated the lives of western 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 western 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 his talk, Michael Pollan will explore what the industrialisation of food and agriculture has meant for our health and happiness as eaters, and look at the growing movement to renovate the food system.
Presented in partnership with Sydney Opera House.
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.