Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seeing Michael Pollan LIVE

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
-Oscar Wilde

Me and my friend Valarie were SO excited to meet Michael Pollan!
This post is a bit belated...My birthday was about a month ago now, and what did I do that evening? I went with a couple of friends (who I met at nutrition school) to meet Michael Pollan and hear him give a talk in Yountville, California - the heart of wine country and a big agricultural area.

What I didn't realize until we got there was that the event was the culmination of a program held in the schools through Napa County Reads. The students read Michael Pollan's book Food Rules, and then created original recipes for a cooking competition. There was a cookbook of their creation for sale, and children's food-related artwork was hanging throughout the event space. You can see some of it behind us in the photo above. The middle and high school student-chefs also prepared all of the yummy hor d'oeurves, and walked around with platters for us to sample. I was impressed with how well they described each item - it was like being at a fancy party! My friends and I especially liked the demonstration that the St. Helena Montessori school had set up. The school has a bee-keeping class (and hives on campus!) and had huge pieces of honeycomb for us to sample. The two little boys working the booth were adorable, and the honey was delicious!!

After mingling about looking at the art and tasting foods, we got in line to meet Mr. Pollan. I brought my books with me for him to sign, but then left them in the car. Oops! When we got to the front of the line, I asked him if he'd take a photo with us instead of signing for me, which he agreed to. There wasn't much time for talking, so Valarie got her book signed, and we made our way into the auditorium.

Much of what he spoke about was geared toward the youth in the audience. In fact, at the end of his talk, he only took questions from the children. Those that asked questions were probably as young as 5 and as old at 18. It was truly wonderful to see a young audience engaged in this type of talk. It gives me hope for the future of our food!!

A few key points he made in the talk really resonated with me, and I wanted to share them with you here:

1. The difference Americans make in describing hunger. For example, a French person might say, "I have hunger" and "I no longer have hunger," and ask if one "feels satisfied" after eating. An American, on the other hand, usually would say, "I am hungry" and "I am not hungry anymore" and asks "Are you full?" to indicate being done eating. This, to me, is a huge difference - can you tell why?

2. On a personal note...Growing up, my mom would post health-related comic strips on the inside of our cupboard doors. One she had up for years, which my dad still likes to quote, said: "The whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead." I was astonished when Michael Pollan used this saying in his speech, and attributed it to Jewish and Italian grandmothers! Go, Mom!

3. The importance of cultural history when it comes to our food. That our food "rules" flowed from culture, not from science. People figured out what to eat long before science got involved. This made me think of the role of fermented foods (probiotics) in cultures around the globe, and how many different diets are healthy to many different cultures. There is no ONE right way to eat!

4. And last, the importance of cooking for yourself (and your family). It is the best way to eat healthy on a budget - after all, recipes and cooking originated with peasants using scraps to feed their families. If you're looking for help on how to get started cooking for yourself, take a look at some of the recipes on this site, and post any questions you have in the comments. 

No comments:

Post a Comment