Michael Pollan on Oprah: “Learn To Cook”


Michael Pollan is the author of four best selling books that examine our culture of food in the United States. He's my hero. He's been able to identify the growing problems with our industrial food system, but more importantly, masterfully communicate these ideas to everyone that's not a food scientist. And he says "learn to cook and YOU hold the power over food".

Michael Pollan was on Oprah in January of this year. I'm generally not able to watch Oprah during the day, but when I saw the author of "In Defense of Food", "Omnivores Dilema", and "Food Rules" on the flat-screen at the gym, I stopped my workout and watched. During the first segment that wasn't included in the edited video, Mr. Pollan shares a list of the food rules from his latest book. They seem less like rules and more like wise adages of shockingly common sense. But, he ends the first segment with serious advice, "learning to cook is one of the most important skills to have because then YOU have the power over what food you choose and who cooks it. Corporations are terrible at making food", says Pollan. Corporate packaged foods can contain compounds to increase shelf life, retain color, and improve profits.

There are simple rules or guidelines that you can use to change our entire food system. "Vote with your fork", Michael says, "you get three votes a day. Where else do you get three votes each day?" He's referring to the financial motivation of all food companies. If you don't buy it, they'll stop making it.

Some examples of his simple rules:

1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store.  Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.

5. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

Michael's new book is called "Food Rules", and outlines 64 adages to keep good eating in your consciousness.

#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

#36 Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.

#58 Do all your eating at a table.

Seeing Michael Pollan on Oprah boosted my resolve in bringing basic cooking methods to the world. You'll improve your health and nutrition, reunite your family over dinner, entertain and be more social, eat a wider variety of foods, and enjoy a life-long skill when you learn to cook, as Michael Pollan advises.

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