Top 71 Michael Pollan Quotes

He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.


[Government] regulation is an imperfect substitute for the accountability, and trust, built into a market in which food producers meet the gaze of eaters and vice versa.


we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse. (quoting Joel Salatin)


But that’s the challenge — to change the system more than it changes you.


It seems that by the time the singular beauty of a flower in bloom can no longer pierce the veil of black or obsessive thoughts in a person’s mind, that mind’s connection to the sensual world has grown dangerously frayed.


Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.


The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.


Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn’t necessarily expect to witness.


Seeds have the power to preserve species, to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity, to counter economic monopoly and to check the advance of conformity on all its many fronts.


It has become much harder, in the past century, to tell where the garden leaves off and pure nature begins.


The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.


My native tense is future conditional, a low simmer of unspecified worry being the usual condition.


Johnny Appleseed was revered . . he was . . . an evangelist (of a doctrine veering perilously close to pantheism).


For a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it’s more likely to be processed rather than a whole food.


In ancient Greece, the word for “cook,” “butcher,” and “priest” was the same — mageiros — and the word shares an etymological root with “magic.


When chickens get to live like chickens, they’ll taste like chickens, too.


Curiously, the one bodily fluid of other people that doesn’t disgust us is the one produced by the human alone: tears. Consider the sole type of used tissue you’d be willing to share.


Suffering… is not just lots of pain but pain amplified by distinctly human emotions such as regret, self-pity, shame, humiliation, and dread.


It’s brutal out there. A bear will eat a lactating ewe alive, starting with her udders. as a rule, animals in the wild don’t get good deaths surrounded by their loved ones.


It’s all very Italian (and decidedly un-American): to insist that doing the right thing is the most pleasurable thing, and that the act of consumption might be an act of addition rather than subtraction.


The true socialist utopia turns out to be a field of F-1 hybrid plants.


Great cooking is all about the three ‘p’s: patience, presence, and practice.


Since 1985 our [American’s] consumption of all added sugars- cane, beet, HFCS, glucose, honey, maple syrup, whatever- has climbed from 128 pounds to 159 pounds per person.


Americans today spend less on food, as a percentage of disposable income (10%), than any other industrialized nation… meaning that we could afford to spend more on food if we chose to.


Planted, a single corn seed yielded more than 150 fat kernels, often as many as 300, while the return on a seed of wheat was something less than 50:1


Leave something on your plate… ‘Better to go to waste than to waist


As grandmothers used to say, ‘Better to pay the grocer than the doctor


Farmers facing lower prices have only one option if they want to be able to maintain their standard of living, pay their bills, and service their debt, and that is to produce more [corn]


[Smil] estimates that two of every five humans on Earth today would not be alive if not for Fritz Haber’s invention of the Haber-Bosch process.


Though they won’t say, it has been estimated that Cargill and ADM together probably buy somewhere near a third of all the corn grown in America.


There are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn.


By far the biggest portion of a bushel of American commodity corn (about 60% of it, or some 50k kernels) goes to feeding livestock, and much of that goes to feeding America’s 100 million beef cattle


A mere four giant meatpacking companies (Tyson subsidiary IBP, Cargill subsidiary Excel, Swift & Company, and National) now slaughter and market four of every five beef cattle born in this country


What gets a steer from 80 to 1100 pounds in fourteen months is tremendous quantities of corn, protein and fat supplements, and an arsenal of new drugs.


It was the same industrial logic- protein is protein- that made feeding rendered cow parts back to cows seem like a sensible thing to do, until scientists figured out that this practice was spreading BSE [mad cow disease].


Every day between now and his slaughter in six months, 534 [Pollan’s steer] will convert 32 pounds of feed into four pounds of gain- new muscle, fat, and bone.


The ratio of feed to flesh in chicken, the most efficient animal by this measure, is two pounds of corn to one of meat, which is why chicken costs less than beef.


Wet milling (to produce starch) is an energy-intensive way to make food; for every calorie of processed food it produces, another ten calories of fossil fuel energy are burned.


Today it [high fructose corn syrup] is the most valuable food product refined from corn, accounting for 530 million bushels every year. (A bushel of corn yields 33 pounds of fructose)


Try as we might, each of us can eat only about 1500 pounds of food a year. What this means for the food industry is that its natural rate of growth is somewhere around 1% every year (growth of American population).


Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of the pig-an animal easily as intelligent as a dog-that becomes the Christmas ham.


But imagine for a moment if we once again knew, strictly as a matter of course, these few unremarkable things: What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what, in a true accounting, it really cost.


Reversing the historical trajectory of human eating, for this meal the forest would be feeding us again.


A growing body of research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef.


For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?


Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar B) unpronounceable C) more than five in number or that include D) high-fructose corn syrup


We moderns are great compartmentalizers, perhaps never more so than when hungry.


For great many species today, “fitness” means the ability to get along in a world in which humankind has become the most powerful evolutionary force.


It is very much in the interest of the food industry to exacerbate our anxieties about what to eat, the better to then assuage them with new products.


Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.


This, for many people, is what’s most offensive about hunting—to some, disgusting: that it encourages, or allows, us not only to kill but to take a certain pleasure in killing


The blessing of the omnivore is that he can eat a great many different things in nature. The curse of the omnivore is that when it comes to figuring out which of those things are safe to eat, he’s pretty much on his own.


Unlike any other form of thought, daydreaming is its own reward.


The virus altered the the eye of the beholder. That this change came at the expense of the beheld suggests that beauty in nature does not necessarily bespeak health, nor necessarily redound to the benefit of the beautiful.


Agriculture changes the landscape more than anything else we do. It alters the composition of species. We don’t realize it when we sit down to eat, but that is our most profound engagement with the rest of nature.


Perhaps more than any other, the food industry is very sensitive to consumer demand.


Every major food company now has an organic division. There’s more capital going into organic agriculture than ever before.


At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind.


In corn, I think I’ve found the key to the American food chain. If you look at a fast-food meal, a McDonald’s meal, virtually all the carbon in it – and what we eat is mostly carbon – comes from corn.


My work has also motivated me to put a lot of time into seeking out good food and to spend more money on it.


In addition to contributing to erosion, pollution, food poisoning, and the dead zone, corn requires huge amounts of fossil fuel – it takes a half gallon of fossil fuel to produce a bushel of corn.


Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.


People in Slow Food understand that food is an environmental issue.


French cooking is really the result of peasants figuring out how to extract flavor from pedestrian ingredients. So most of the food that we think of as elite didn’t start out that way.


The first step in reforming appetite is going from processed food to real food. Then, if you can afford organic or grass-fed, fantastic. But the first step is moving from processed industrial food to the real thing.


The things journalists should pay attention to are the issues the political leadership agrees on, rather than to their supposed antagonisms.


To the extent we push meat a little bit to the side and move vegetables to the center of our diet, we’re also going to be a lot healthier.


Plus, I love comic writing. Nothing satisfies me more than finding a funny way to phrase something.


We know there is a deep reservoir of food wisdom out there, or else humans would not have survived to the extent we have. Much of this food wisdom is worth preserving and reviving and heeding.


I mean, we’re really making a quantum change in our relationship to the plant world with genetic modification.


Before I started writing about food, my focus was really on the human relationship to plants. Not only do plants nourish us bodily – they nourish us psychologically.



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