Michael Pollan wants you to cook

Michael Pollan.

Image of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Author: Michael Pollan
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 480 pages

In Michael Pollan's latest book, "Cooked," he's hoping he can convince readers to slow down and cook dinner tonight -- instead of microwaving a pre-made meal.

"I really think that we've been sold a bill of goods with the argument that [cooking] is drudgery and we lack the time and we lack the skills," he says. "It's one of the most democratic of pleasures available to all of us."

As cooking shows become more popular, we're paradoxically seeing a decrease in home cooking.

Since 1977, it's fallen by half. Pollan says that has "disastrous effects, both for our agriculture and for our health" and that shift has in part been a result of marketing efforts that have been "designed to get us out of the kitchen" in favor of pre-prepared meals that bring in more dollars for food companies.

"All the money in the food industry is in processing," he says. "It's very hard to make money selling simple ingredients."

There are other economic reasons fewer people are cooking: In an age when time is money, cooking takes a lot of time. Pollan says it's not so much about time as it is about putting value on a home cooked meal.

"We find time for the things we value."

He points to the two hours a day we spend outside of working surfing the web.

"We don't value cooking," he says. "We've fallen into this mode where we let the corporations do the cooking for us. The problem is, they don't do it very well."

Though prepared foods can be cheap and fast, the process to make them involves cheap materials and a ton of additives.

"This is a great case where the efficiency of capitalism is actually undermining the health of people."

AUDIO EXTRA: Michael Pollan on how the popularity of cooking shows doesn’t necessarily mean we’re cooking more, what he calls the "cooking paradox."

Are you cooking more or less? Comment below or tweet us @MarketplaceAPM.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Image of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Author: Michael Pollan
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 480 pages
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I see this trend for many years now. Michael Pollan is on track again.
Good luck to him in convincing a public who's habits have been shaped by the media.
I prepare all of my meals myself. I grow a variety of sprouts and greens throughout the winter when I'm here in the U.S.
Otherwise when I travel, I eat the local fare. At least its fresh.
Most of the foods Americans eat are not fresh. Its generally processed, chemicalized, fragmented, devitalized, GMO ladened, dead and stale material that passes off as food.
Much is enzymatically DEAD. Overcooked.
This is your Standard American Diet(SAD). Americans are overfed and undernourished.
Too lazy to take care of themselves. They get sick, they run off to some doctor who can "practice" on their bodies. The end result is to take this or that drug or several. Good old side effects.

Its true that "time is money", but for many it leads to illness.

"We squander Health in search of Wealth,
We scheme and toil and save;
Then squander Wealth in search of Health---
We live and boast of what we own
We die, and only get a stone."
(Author Unknown)

"And we have made of ourselves living cesspools, and driven doctors to invent names for our diseases." --Plato

"Over and over I explain to patients, 'Your pain, misery and illness results from your own dietary mistakes and drugs. You are suffering because you are filled with toxic wastes caused by your diet of poorly selected food filled with artificial flavorings, preservatives, synthetics, and over-processed ingredients—too much stimulating food and too few natural vitamins from vegetables and fruits....' " Henry G. Bieler, MD Food is Your Best Medicine

I have been in the food business and also naturopathic medicine and toxicology for over 40 years.

Thanks so much for this interview with Micheal Pollan, with whom I had the pleasure of lunch a few years ago. By coincidence, this aired the day after the New York Times profiled our happy marriage (at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/booming/from-early-lean-years-a-strong...), and although cooking is not mentioned in the article, it is an important part of both our health and our happiness. The couple that cooks together -- and blogs about it -- stays together: http://nuevareceta.blogspot.com/.

A word of encouragement: my undergraduate environmental geography students are increasingly interested in food -- and cooking -- and understand the importance of it.


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