Famous Quotes & Sayings

Michael Pollan Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Michael Pollan.

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Everything that lives, it seems, must play host to the germ of its own dissolution. — Michael Pollan

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What memoir of childhood doesn't at some point turn on the scent of a sweet pea or a freshly cut lawn or a boxwood hedge, to leap the fence of years? — Michael Pollan

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Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. — Michael Pollan

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Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. — Michael Pollan

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The free market has never worked in agriculture and it never will. The economics of a family farm are very different from a firm's ... the demand for food isn't elastic; people don't eat more just because food is cheap. Even if I go out of business this land will keep producing corn. — Michael Pollan

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A charge often levied against organic agriculture is that it is more philosophy than science. There's some truth to this indictment, if that it what it is, though why organic farmers should feel defensive about it is itself a mystery, a relic, perhaps, of our fetishism of science as the only credible tool with which to approach nature ... The peasant rice farmer who introduces ducks and fish to his paddy may not understand all the symbiotic relationships he's put in play
that the ducks and fishes are feeding nitrogen to the rice and at the same time eating the pests. But the high yields of food from this ingenious polyculture are his to harvest even so. — Michael Pollan

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We could have a greener economy, even a greener consumer economy by changing the rules - whether it's by taxing carbon or trading carbon, I'm not sure what - but in the end there's just a fundamental problem with the sheer amount we're consuming. — Michael Pollan

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In general, science journalism concerns itself with what has been published in a handful of peer-reviewed journals - Nature, Cell, The New England Journal of Medicine - which set the agenda. — Michael Pollan

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We forget that, historically, people have eaten for a great many reasons other than biological necessity. Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world, and about expressing our identity. As long as humans have been taking meals together, eating has been as much about culture as it has been about biology. — Michael Pollan

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I'm not talking about having to consult Julia Child before you can take a pot off the rack. I think that's something we can all do more and do better. — Michael Pollan

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The grocery store poets do everything they can to encourage us in our willing suspension of disbelief. — Michael Pollan

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For it is only by forgetting that we ever really drop the thread of time and approach the experience of living in the present moment, so elusive in ordinary hours. — Michael Pollan

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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. — Michael Pollan

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Perhaps as the sway of tradition in our eating decisions weakens, habits we once took for granted are thrown up in the air, where they're more easily buffeted by a strong idea or a breeze of fashion. — Michael Pollan

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Traditional diets are more than the sum of their food parts. — Michael Pollan

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I get letters from classes all the time. Say it's assigned in someone's 8th grade class, and the teacher asks everyone to write a letter to me about their impressions and what they learned. So, it's incredibly gratifying to hear. — Michael Pollan

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The transformation which occurs in the cauldron is quintessential and wondrous, subtle and delicate. The mouth cannot express it in words. — Michael Pollan

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At either end of any food chain you find a biological system-a patch of soil, a human body-and the health of one is connected-literally-to the health of the other. — Michael Pollan

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The bubble logic driving tulipomania has since acquired a name: "the greater fool theory." Although by any conventional measure it is folly to pay thousands for a tulip bulb (or for that matter an Internet stock), as long as there is an even greater fool out there willing to pay even more, doing so is the most logical thing in the world. — Michael Pollan

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The two things are synergistic, the health care crisis and the food crisis. Right now, to a large extent, the food industry's biggest product is patients for the health care industry and we have to break that. — Michael Pollan

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You know what the best kind of organic certification would be? make an unannounced visit to a farm and take a good long look at the farmer's bookshelf. Because what you're feeding your emotions and thoughts is what this is really all about. the way I produce a chicken is an extension of my worldview. You can learn more about that by seeing what is sitting on my bookshelf than having me fill out a whole bunch of forms. Joel Salatin — Michael Pollan

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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. — Michael Pollan

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Sooner or later your fingers close on that one moist-cold spud that the spade has accidentally sliced clean through, shining wetly white and giving off the most unearthly of earthly aromas. It's the smell of fresh soil in the spring, but fresh soil somehow distilled or improved upon, as if that wild, primordial scene has been refined and bottled: eau de pomme de terre. You can smell the cold inhuman earth in it, but there's the cozy kitchen to, for the smell of potatoes is, at least by now, to us, the smell of comfort itself, a smell as blankly welcoming as spud flesh, a whiteness that takes up memories and sentiments as easily as flavors. To smell a raw potato is to stand on the very threshold of the domestic and the wild. (241) — Michael Pollan

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Dreams of innocence are just that; they usually depend on a denial of reality that can be its own form of hubris. — Michael Pollan

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Food processing began as a way to extend the shelf life of food by protecting it from these competitors. This is often accomplished by making the food less appealing to them, by removing nutrients from it — Michael Pollan

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To grow the plants and animals that made up my meal, no pesticides found their way into any farmworker's bloodstream, no nitrogen runoff or growth hormones seeped into the watershed, no soils were poisoned, no antibiotics were squandered, no subsidy checks were written. If the high price of my all-organic meal is weighed against the comparatively low price it exacted from the larger world, as it should be, it begins to look, at least in karmic terms, like a real bargain. — Michael Pollan

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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. — Michael Pollan

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Not that I'm against meat eating. But I think we're eating too much. — Michael Pollan

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A growing and increasingly influential movement of philosophers, ethicists, law professors and activists are convinced that the great moral struggle of our time will be for the rights of animals. — Michael Pollan

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In the modern view, the pitched roof was itself a "dead concept," but equally unhealthy
were all those other dead concepts that got stored underneath the gable, in the attic. For there is where the ghosts of our past reside: the bric-abrac
and mementos that a lifetime collects; the love letters, photographs, and memories that clutter an attic and threaten to bear us back in time. — Michael Pollan

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Everything we eat begins with a plant turning solar energy into carbohydrates. Everything. Whether we're eating meat or eating vegetables, it all begins there. So I'm always interested in taking things back to the beginning. — Michael Pollan

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Food is a costly antidepressant. — Michael Pollan

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The human animal is adapted to, and apparently can thrive on, an extraordinary range of different diets, but the Western diet, however you define it, does not seem to be one of them. — Michael Pollan

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The great edifice of variety and choice that is an American supermarket turns out to rest on a remarkably narrow biological foundation comprised of a tiny group of plants that is dominated by a single species: Zea mays, a giant tropical grass most Americans know as corn ...
Read the ingredients on the label of any processed food and, provided you know the chemical name it travels under, corn is what you will find. For modified or unmodified starch, for glucose syrup and maltodextrin, for crystalline fructose and ascorbic acid, for lecithin and dextrose, lactic acid and lysine, for maltose and HFCS, for MSG and polyols, for the caramel color and xanthan gum, read: corn ... There are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. This goes for the nonfood items as well ...
And us? — Michael Pollan

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To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien, anyone?) It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we're at home, production is work best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call "freedom." Cooking — Michael Pollan

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More grass means less forest; more forest less grass. But either-or is a construction more deeply woven into our culture than into nature, where even antagonists depend on one another and the liveliest places are the edges, the in-betweens or both-ands ... Relations are what matter most. — Michael Pollan

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The Congressional leaders set the agenda for journalism; it's not the other way around. — Michael Pollan

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Wrangham cites several studies indicating that in fact humans don't do well on raw food: they can't maintain their body weight, and half of the women on a raw-food regimen stop menstruating. Devotees of raw food rely heavily on juicers and blenders, because otherwise they would have to spend as much time chewing as the chimps do. It is difficult, if not impossible, to extract sufficient energy from unprocessed plant matter to power a body with such a big, hungry brain. — Michael Pollan

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Even in the pages of the New York Times and The New Yorker, it seems the epithet 'virtuous,' when applied to an act of personal environmental responsibility, may be used only ironically. Tell me: How did it come to pass that virtue - a quality that for most of history has generally been deemed, well, a virtue - become a mark of liberal softheadedness? How peculiar, that doing the right thing by the environment - buying the hybrid, eating like a locavore - should now set you up for the Ed Begley Jr. treatment. — Michael Pollan

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Culture, when it comes to food, is of course a fancy word for your mom. — Michael Pollan

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Huxley suggests that the reason there aren't nearly as many mystics and visionaries walking around today, as compared to the Middle Ages, is the improvement in nutrition. Vitamin deficiencies wreak havoc on brain function and probably explain a large portion of visionary experiences in the past. — Michael Pollan

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The other thing that soy contributes to, of course, is hydrogenated oil. This is the main oil. This is the fast-food oil. — Michael Pollan

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The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world. — Michael Pollan

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Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. — Michael Pollan

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Well, in a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization - against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien, anyone?) It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we're at home, production is work best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call freedom. — Michael Pollan

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There are scores of studies demonstrating that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of dying from all the Western diseases; in countries where people eat a pound or more of vegetables and fruits a day, the rate of cancer is half what is in the United States. — Michael Pollan

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That eating should be foremost about bodily health is a relatively new and, I think, destructive idea-destructive not just the pleasure of eating, which would be bad enough, but paradoxically of our health as well. Indeed, no people on earth worry more about the health consequences of their food choices than we Americans-and no people suffer from as many diet-related problems. We are becoming a nation of orthorexics: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. — Michael Pollan

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An act as quotidian and practical as making your own sauerkraut represents nothing less than a way of engaging with the world. Or rather, with several different worlds, each nested inside the other: the invisible world of fungi and bacteria; the community in which you live; and the industrial food system that is undermining the health of our bodies and the land. — Michael Pollan

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A good pot holds memories. — Michael Pollan

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We are at once the problem and the only possible solution to the problem. — Michael Pollan

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A garden should make you feel you've entered privileged space
a place not just set apart but reverberant
and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry. — Michael Pollan

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Eating is an agricultural act," Wendell Berry famously wrote, by which he meant that we are not just passive consumers of food but cocreators of the systems that feed us. Depending on how we spend them, our food dollars can either go to support a food industry devoted to quantity and convenience and "value" or they can nourish a food chain organized around values
values like quality and health. Yes, shopping this way takes more money and effort, but as soon as you begin to treat that expenditure not just as shopping but also as a kind of vote
a vote for health in the largest sense
food no longer seems like the smartest place to economize. — Michael Pollan

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To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America - not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food. — Michael Pollan

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Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk. — Michael Pollan

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What Nietzsche is describing is a kind of transcendence - a mental state of complete and utter absorption well known to artists, athletes, gamblers, musicians, dancers, soldiers in battle, mystics, meditators, and the devout during prayer. — Michael Pollan

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To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink in the supermarket is to have some corn with your corn. Since the 1980s virtually all the sodas and most of the fruit drinks
sold in the supermarket have been sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. — Michael Pollan

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There are certain products that it's worth buying organic just because the alternatives have so much pesticide. There's a list of the dirty dozen that you can get off the Web. Strawberries, potatoes. A handful of crops that have very high pesticide residues if you don't buy organic. If you eat that a lot, that's a good place to invest. — Michael Pollan

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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. — Michael Pollan

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For we would no longer need any reminding that however we choose to feed ourselves, we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and what we're eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world. — Michael Pollan

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As long as one egg looks pretty much like another, all the chickens like chicken, and beef beef, the substitution of quantity for quality will go unnoticed by most consumers, but it is becoming increasingly apparent to anyone with an electron microscope or a mass spectrometer that, truly, this is not the same food. — Michael Pollan

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For an American like me, growing up linked to a very different food chain, yet one that is also rooted in a field of corn, not to think of himself as a corn person suggests either a failure of imagination or a triumph of capitalism. — Michael Pollan

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Rule No.37 The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead. — Michael Pollan

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To eat corn directly is to consume all the energy in the corn, but when you feed that corn to an animal, 90% of its energy is lost... what this means is that the amount of food energy lost in the making of something like a Chicken McNugget could feed a great many more children than just mine, and that behind the 4,510 calories in our meal, tens of thousand corn calories could have been used to feed many more people. — Michael Pollan

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Lawns are a form of television — Michael Pollan

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The economic logic of gathering so many animals together to feed them cheap corn in CAFOs is hard to argue with; it has made meat, which used to be a special occasion in most American homes, so cheap and abundant that many of us now eat it three times a day. Not so compelling is the biological logic behind this cheap meat. Already in their short history CAFOs have produced more than their share of environmental and health problems: polluted water and air, toxic wastes, novel and deadly pathogens. — Michael Pollan

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The longer I've looked at these questions, of the American diet and the public health crisis that we face because of that diet, the more I've come to the conclusion that the collapse of cooking is a big part of the problem. — Michael Pollan

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In the debate over the use of antibiotics in agriculture, a distinction is usually made between their clinical and nonclinical uses. Public health advocates don't object to treating sick animals with antibiotics; they just don't want to see the drugs lose their effectiveness because factory farms are feeding them to healthy animals to promote growth. But the use of antibiotics in feedlot cattle confounds this distinction. Here the drugs are plainly being used to treat sick animals, yet the animals probably wouldn't be sick if not for the diet of grain we feed them. — Michael Pollan

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The fast-food hamburger has been brilliantly engineered to offer a succulent and tasty first bite, a bite that in fact would be impossible to enjoy if the eater could accurately picture the feedlot and slaughterhouse and the workers behind it or knew anything about the 'artificial grill flavor' that made the first bite so convincing. This is a hamburger to hurry through, no question. By comparison, eating a grass-fed burger when you can picture the green pastures in which the animal grazed is a pleasure of another order, not a simple one, to be sure, but one based on knowledge rather than ignorance and gratitude rather than indifference.
To eat slowly, then, also means to eat deliberately, in the original sense of the word: 'from freedom' instead of compulsion. — Michael Pollan

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It's really important for your health, because you will never use as much salt and fat and sugar as a corporation will use cooking for you. — Michael Pollan

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One USDA scientist went so far as to claim that there has never been a documented case of food-borne illness from eating fermented vegetables. — Michael Pollan

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Cultural change occurs whenever a new meme is introduced and catches on. It might be romanticism or double-entry book-keeping, chaos theory or Pokemon. So where in the world do new memes come from? sometimes they spring full-blown from the brains of artists or scientists, advertising copywriters or teenagers. often a process of mutation is involved in the creation of a new meme, in much the same way that mutations in natural environment can lead to useful new genetic traits. — Michael Pollan

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Every peasant cuisine has incredible ingenious tricks for getting a lot of nutrition out of a small amount of ingredients. There are people who don't have the money to invest in better food, but perhaps they have the time. There's a trade-off: The more time you're willing to put into food preparation, the less money you have to spend. — Michael Pollan

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Studies show that organically grown crops produce more of the things (ascorbic acid, lycopenes, resveratrol, flavonols in general, etc) that our bodies need and also have less toxic residue. Science is still catching up with this. J. Agric. Food. Chem. Vol. 51, no. 5, 2003. — Michael Pollan

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Anyway, in my writing I've always been interested in finding places to stand, and I've found it very useful to have a direct experience of what I'm writing about. — Michael Pollan

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We spend a remarkably small, shamefully small, percentage of our income on food. We manage to spend money on lots of other things. All up and down the social ladder you find people with plenty of money for cell phones, home entertainment systems, all other forms of entertainment. — Michael Pollan

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Half of all broccoli grown commercially in America today is a single variety- Marathon- notable for it's high yield. The overwhelming majority of the chickens raised for meat in America are the same hybrid, the Cornish cross; more than 99 percent of turkeys are the Broad-Breasted Whites. — Michael Pollan

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Time is the missing ingredient in our recipes-and in our lives. — Michael Pollan

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The problem is that once science has reduced a complex phenomenon to a couple of variables, however important they may be, the natural tendency is to overlook everything else, to assume that what you can measure is all there is, or at least all that really matters. When we mistake what we can know for all there is to know, a healthy appreciation of one's ignorance in the face of a mystery like soil fertility gives way to the hubris that we can treat nature as a machine. — Michael Pollan

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The great virtue of a diversified food economy, like a diverse pasture or farm, is its ability to withstand any shock. The important thing is that there be multiple food chains, so that when any one of them fails-when the oil runs out, when mad cow or other food-borne diseases become epidemic, when the pesticides no longer work, when drought strikes and plagues come and soils blow away-we'll still have a way to feed ourselves. — Michael Pollan

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Our modern civilization returns exceedingly little of what it borrows. -Martin Renner — Michael Pollan

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I really try to write as an ordinary person would, not as someone who's too sophisticated about food, or too knowledgeable about things. — Michael Pollan

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The big journals and Nobel laureates are the equivalent of Congressional leaders in science journalism. — Michael Pollan

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If you're going to change the food system, there is a lot that you, the consumer, can do on your own; but in the end, it will be very important to make changes at the national level. — Michael Pollan

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Christianity and capitalism are both probably right to detest a plant like cannabis. Both faiths bid us to set our sights on the future; both reject the pleasures of the moment and the senses in favor of the expectation of a fulfillment yet to come - whether by earning salvation or by getting and spending. More even than most plant drugs, cannabis, by immersing us in the present and offering something like fulfillment here and now, short-circuits the metaphysics of desire on which Christianity and capitalism (and so much else in our civilization) depend.* — Michael Pollan

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The final standards do a good job of setting the bar for a more environmentally responsible kind of farming but, as perhaps was inevitable as soon as bureaucratic and industrial thinking was brought to bear, many of the philosophical values embodied in the word "organic" - the sorts of values expressed by Albert Howard - did not survive the federal rule making process. — Michael Pollan

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Rule No. 41. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. — Michael Pollan

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I think historically modern economics, capitalist economics, tends to erode moral categories ... And this is where I think the right gets capitalism wrong. They kind of assume that there is a moral equivalence or moral valence to capitalism, but I tend to think that economics erodes all the kind of cultural taboos and inhibitions and values it comes into contact with. — Michael Pollan

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When we use these words and we talk about plants having a strategy to do this or wanting this or desiring this, we're being metaphorical obviously. I mean, plants do not have consciousness. But, this is a fault of our own vocabulary. We don't have a very good vocabulary to describe what others species do to us, because we think we're the only species that really does anything. — Michael Pollan

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The ninety-nine cent price of a fast-food hamburger simply doesn't take account of that meal's true cost
to soil, oil, public health, the public purse, etc., costs which are never charged directly to the consumer but, indirectly and invisibly, to the taxpayer (in the form of subsidies), the health care system (in the form of food-borne illnesses and obesity), and the environment (in the form of pollution), not to mention the welfare of the workers in the feedlot and the slaughterhouse and the welfare of the animals themselves. — Michael Pollan

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In borrowing from a food culture, pay attention to how a culture eats as well as to what it eats. — Michael Pollan

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Much of gardening is a return, an effort at recovering remembered landscapes. — Michael Pollan

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Instead of eating exclusively from the sun, humanity now began to sip petroleum. — Michael Pollan

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I think using waste oils as fuel makes sense. We do waste a huge amount of vegetable oil in the United States and using that as a fuel source strikes me as fine. — Michael Pollan

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always living on less than you have and more lightly than you need to. — Michael Pollan

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

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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 — Michael Pollan

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The new faith sought to break the human bond with magic nature, to disenchant the world of plants and animals by directing our attention to a single God in the sky. Yet Jehovah couldn't very well pretend the tree of knowledge didn't exist, not when generations of plant-worshiping pagans knew better. So the pagan tree is allowed to grow even in Eden, though ringed around now with a strong taboo. Yes, there is spiritual knowledge in nature, the new God is acknowledging, and its temptations are fierce, but I am fiercer still. Yield to it, and you will be punished. So unfolds the drug war's first battle. — Michael Pollan

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Corn is an efficient way to get energy calories off the land and soybeans are an efficient way of getting protein off the land, so we've designed a food system that produces a lot of cheap corn and soybeans resulting in a lot of cheap fast food. — Michael Pollan

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Don't eat any foods you've ever seen advertised on television. — Michael Pollan

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You want to say the thing that will drive everybody in the direction you want to go. But as a writer you have a pact with your readers that you'll be really straight with them at all times. — Michael Pollan