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In Michael Pollan's Kitchen, Fresh Foods Leave Little Room for Junk

Susan Bence

Michael Pollan is no stranger to the murky world of food production and how we humans fit in the chain.

Starting with the Omnivore’s Dilemma – in which the writer explored the farms and feedlots where our food is grown, Pollan later examined what the food we eat does to our bodies.

In his new tome Cooked, he takes the art down to the bare bones to educate himself – and the reader – about the kitchen.

Pollan says as farmers' markets and the local food movement become more popular, he’s hoping to inspire more home cooking of raw ingredients - which will benefit families and farmers.

"I realized at a certain point that this very exciting movement to reform American agriculture and create alternative markets and an alternative food economy was gonna' top out if people weren’t going to cook any more," he says.

Pollan's posted what he hopes are helpful FAQs and useful links on his website. He also recommends checking out YouTube for some topnotch “how to in the kitchen” videos.

But he says changes must be made outside of the kitchen, too.

"Voting with your fork is not going to solve all the problems of the American food system," Pollan says. "We're going to have to vote with our votes, too. We're going to need changes in policy, to make good healthy food more accessible to more people and make it more competitive with junk food."

Credit Penguin Press
Michael Pollan's latest book

Pollan points to farm subsidies for corn and soy, which he calls the "building blocks of processed food." He believes such support should be extended to diversified farmers growing fresh produce.

What's next on Pollan's radar? He says an upcoming project involves diving into microbiology – specifically the fermentation that takes place within our bodies.

"I just had my gut micro-sequenced and I'm learning what is that ecosystem," he says. "So that's where my interests are right now. We'll see where that goes."

Pollan recently visited Milwaukee during a book tour.

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.