Michael Pollan Popular Books

Michael Pollan Biography & Facts

Michael Kevin Pollan (; born February 6, 1955) is an American author and journalist, who is currently Professor of the Practice of Non-Fiction and the first Lewis K. Chan Arts Lecturer at Harvard University. Concurrently, he is the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism where in 2020 he cofounded the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, in which he leads the public-education program. Pollan is best known for his books that explore the socio-cultural impacts of food, such as The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Early years Pollan was born to a Jewish family on Long Island, New York. He is the son of author and financial consultant Stephen Pollan and columnist Corky Pollan.After studying at Mansfield College, Oxford, through 1975, Pollan received a B.A. in English from Bennington College in 1977 and an M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1981. Career The Botany of Desire In The Botany of Desire, Pollan explores the concept of co-evolution, specifically of humankind's evolutionary relationship with four plants—apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes—from the dual perspectives of humans and the plants. He uses case examples that fit the archetype of four basic human desires, demonstrating how each of these botanical species are selectively grown, bred, and genetically engineered. The apple reflects the desire for sweetness, the tulip for beauty, marijuana for intoxication, and the potato for control. Throughout the book, Pollan explores the narrative of his own experience with each of the plants, which he then intertwines with a well-researched exploration into their social history. Each section presents a unique element of human domestication, or the "human bumblebee" as Pollan calls it. These range from the true story of Johnny Appleseed to Pollan's first-hand research with sophisticated marijuana hybrids in Amsterdam, to the alarming and paradigm-shifting possibilities of genetically engineered potatoes. Pollan is critical of industrial monoculture claiming it leads to crops less able to defend themselves against predators and requiring large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers which upsets the natural ecosystem. The Omnivore's Dilemma In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan describes four basic ways that human societies have obtained food: the current industrial system, the big organic operation, the local self-sufficient farm, and the hunter-gatherer. Pollan follows each of these processes—from a group of plants photosynthesizing calories through a series of intermediate stages, ultimately into a meal. Along the way, he suggests that there is a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry, that the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world, and that industrial eating obscures crucially important ecological relationships and connections. On December 10, 2006, The New York Times named The Omnivore's Dilemma one of the five best nonfiction books of the year. On May 8, 2007, the James Beard Foundation named The Omnivore's Dilemma its 2007 winner for the best food writing. It was the book of focus for the University of Pennsylvania's Reading Project in 2007, and the book of choice for Washington State University's Common Reading Program in 2009–10. Pollan's discussion of the industrial food chain is in large part a critique of modern agribusiness. According to the book, agribusiness has lost touch with the natural cycles of farming, wherein livestock and crops intertwine in mutually beneficial circles. Pollan's critique of modern agribusiness focuses on what he describes as the overuse of corn for purposes ranging from fattening cattle to massive production of corn oil, high-fructose corn syrup, and other corn derivatives. He describes what he sees as the inefficiencies and other drawbacks of factory farming and gives his assessment of organic food production and what it is like to hunt and gather food. He blames those who set the rules (e.g., politicians in Washington, D.C., bureaucrats at the United States Department of Agriculture, Wall Street capitalists, and agricultural conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland) of what he calls a destructive and precarious agricultural system that has wrought havoc upon the diet, nutrition, and well-being of Americans. Pollan finds hope in Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm in Virginia, which he sees as a model of sustainability in commercial farming. Pollan appears in the documentary film King Corn (2007). In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, released on January 1, 2008, explores the relationship with what he terms nutritionism and the Western diet, with a focus on late 20th century food advice given by the science community. Pollan holds that consumption of fat and dietary cholesterol does not lead to a higher rate of coronary disease, and that the reductive analysis of food into nutrient components is a mistake. Throughout the book, Pollan questions the view that the point of eating is to promote health, pointing out that this attitude is not universal and that cultures that perceive food as having purposes of pleasure, identity, and sociality may end up with better health. He explains this seeming paradox by vetting, and then validating, the notion that nutritionism and, therefore, the whole Western framework through which we intellectualize the value of food is more a religious and faddish devotion to the mythology of simple solutions than a convincing and reliable conclusion of incontrovertible scientific research. Pollan spends the rest of his book explicating his first three phrases: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He contends that most of what Americans now buy in supermarkets, fast food stores, and restaurants is not in fact food, and that a practical tip is to eat only those things that people of his grandmother's generation would have recognized as food. Food Rules: An Eater's Manual In 2009, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual was published. This short work is a condensed version of his previous efforts, intended to provide a simple framework for a healthy and sustainable diet. It is divided into three sections, further explicating Pollan's principles of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It includes his rules (i.e., "let others sample your food" and "the whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead"). Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation In Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, published in 2013, Pollan explores the methods by which cooks mediate "between nature and culture." The book is organized into four sections corresponding to the classical elements of Fire (cooking with heat), Water (braising and boiling with pots), Air (breadmaking), and Earth (fermenting). The book also features Samin .... Discover the Michael Pollan popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Michael Pollan books.

Best Seller Michael Pollan Books of 2024

  • Clean Meat synopsis, comments

    Clean Meat

    Paul Shapiro

    Paul Shapiro gives you a frontrow seat for the wild story of the race to create and commercialize cleaner, safer, sustainable meatreal meatwithout the animals. From the entrepreneu...

  • Psychedelic Medicine synopsis, comments

    Psychedelic Medicine

    Richard Louis Miller

    Explores the potential of psychedelics as medicine and the intersections of politics, science, and psychedelics Explores the tumultuous history of psychedelic research, the effort...

  • This Is Your Mind on Plants synopsis, comments

    This Is Your Mind on Plants

    Michael Pollan

    The instant New York Times bestseller | A Washington Post Notable Book | One of NPR's Best Books of the Year“Expert storytelling . . . [Pollan] masterfully elevates a series of big...

  • How to Taste synopsis, comments

    How to Taste

    Mandy Naglich

    Perfect for foodie fans of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat  as well as Cork Dork and The Flavor Equation, this instant classic is both a sumptuous behindthescenes tour and a f...

  • Strong and Lean synopsis, comments

    Strong and Lean

    Mark Lauren & Joshua Clark

    Strong and LeanMark Lauren's followup to his bestselling bookYou Are Your Own Gymuses two decades of unparalleled experience to accomplish what most people thought impossible: The ...

  • Always Looking Up synopsis, comments

    Always Looking Up

    Michael J Fox

    At the turn from our bedroom into the hallway, there is an old, fulllength mirror in a wooden frame. I can't help but catch a glimpse of myself as I pass. Turning fully toward the ...

  • Cooked synopsis, comments


    Michael Pollan

    In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elementsfire, water, air, and ...

  • Psychedelic Cannabis synopsis, comments

    Psychedelic Cannabis

    Daniel McQueen & Stephen Gray

    Explains how cannabis can be used to treat trauma and emotional pain, as a profound problemsolving tool, and as a potent catalyst for selftransformation and ongoing healing work ...

  • An Everlasting Meal synopsis, comments

    An Everlasting Meal

    Tamar Adler

    In An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler has written a book that “reads less like a cookbook than like a recipe for a delicious life” (New York magazine).In this meditation on cooking a...

  • The Dharma of Poetry synopsis, comments

    The Dharma of Poetry

    John Brehm

    Discover how to engage with poetry to support your spiritual practice, leading to more mindfulness, equanimity, and joy.In The Dharma of Poetry, John Brehm shows how poems can open...

  • Fantastic Fungi synopsis, comments

    Fantastic Fungi

    Paul Stamets

    2020 IBPA Awards Winner!“Louie Schwartzberg’s lightly informative, delightfully kooky documentary, “Fantastic Fungi,” offers nothing less than a model for planetary survival.” –Jea...

  • Psychedelic Consciousness synopsis, comments

    Psychedelic Consciousness

    Daniel Grauer

    An examination of the use of psychedelics for understanding ourselves, connecting with the world around us, and enacting outer change through inner transformation Explores sacred ...

  • In Defense of Food synopsis, comments

    In Defense of Food

    Michael Pollan

    #1 New York Times Bestseller from the author of This is Your Mind on Plants, How to Change Your Mind, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Food Rules Food. There's plenty of it around, and...

  • The Mind Illuminated synopsis, comments

    The Mind Illuminated

    John Yates, Matthew Immergut, PhD & Jeremy Graves

    A revolutionary, sciencebased approach to meditation from a neuroscientist turned meditation master, The Mind Illuminated is an accessible, stepbystep toolkit for anyone looking to...

  • The Pollan Family Table synopsis, comments

    The Pollan Family Table

    Corky Pollan

    A BookPage Best Cookbook of 2015 Winner of the Gourmand International Cookbook Award 2015, Best in the World, Best First CookbookA gorgeous, fully illustrated collection of recipes...

  • LSD and the Mind of the Universe synopsis, comments

    LSD and the Mind of the Universe

    Christopher M. Bache & Ervin Laszlo

    A professor of religious studies meticulously documents his insights from 73 highdose LSD sessions conducted over the course of 20 years Chronicles, with unprecedented rigor, the ...

  • Simple and Free synopsis, comments

    Simple and Free

    Jen Hatmaker

    Why do we pursue more when we’d be happier with less? In this updated edition of 7, New York Times bestselling author Jen Hatmaker tells the story of how she&#x...

  • The Bigger Picture synopsis, comments

    The Bigger Picture

    Alexander Beiner

    Can psychedelic drugs help us tackle the biggest problems we face globally? Can they heal the cultural, spiritual, and political wounds we’re wrestling with?Psychedelics have hit t...

  • The New Rules of Cheese synopsis, comments

    The New Rules of Cheese

    Anne Saxelby

    A fun and quirky guide to the essential rules for enjoying cheese  “The New Rules of Cheese will empower you to choose a more flavorful future, one that supports the...

  • The Plant-Based Power Plan synopsis, comments

    The Plant-Based Power Plan

    TJ Waterfall

    HOW A PLANTBASED DIET IMPROVES PERFORMANCE AND HOW TO DO IT YOURSELF'A fantastic resource for any plantbased athlete looking to get stronger or fitter' James Wilks, winner of The ...

  • An Epidemic of Absence synopsis, comments

    An Epidemic of Absence

    Moises Velasquez-Manoff

    A brilliant, groundbreaking report on the dramatic rise of allergic and autoimmune disease, and the controversial therapies scientists are developing to correct these disorders.Fro...

  • We Belong to Gaia synopsis, comments

    We Belong to Gaia

    James Lovelock

    In twenty short books, Penguin brings you the classics of the environmental movement.James Lovelock's We Belong to Gaia draws on decades of wisdom to lay out the history of our rem...

  • The Revolutionary Genius of Plants synopsis, comments

    The Revolutionary Genius of Plants

    Stefano Mancuso

    "In this thoughtprovoking, handsomely illustrated book, Italian neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso considers the fundamental differences between plants and animals and challenges our a...

  • On Food and Cooking synopsis, comments

    On Food and Cooking

    Harold McGee

    A kitchen classic for over 35 years, and hailed by Time magazine as "a minor masterpiece" when it first appeared in 1984, On Food and Cooking is the bible which food lovers and pro...

  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat synopsis, comments

    Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

    Samin Nosrat

    More than 1 million copies sold New York Times bestseller Winner of the James Beard Award and multiple IACP Cookbook Awards Available as a Netflix series Transform how you prep,...

  • The End of Craving synopsis, comments

    The End of Craving

    Mark Schatzker

    The international bestseller from awardwinning writer Mark Schatzker that reveals how our dysfunctional relationship with food beganand how science is leading us back to healthier ...

  • Deep Country synopsis, comments

    Deep Country

    Neil Ansell

    Deep Country is Neil Ansell's account of five years spent alone in a hillside cottage in Wales.'I lived alone in this cottage for five years, summer and winter, with no transport, ...

  • The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge synopsis, comments

    The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge

    The New York Times

    A COMPLETE REVISION AND THOROUGH UPDATING OF THE ULTIMATE REFERENCE FROM THE NEWSPAPER OF RECORD. A comprehensive guide offering insight and clarity on a broad range of even more e...

  • Flower Confidential synopsis, comments

    Flower Confidential

    Amy Stewart

    A globetrotting, behindthescenes look at the dazzling world of flowers and the fascinating industry it has created. Awardwinning author Amy Stewart takes readers on an aroundthewor...

  • Food Rules synopsis, comments

    Food Rules

    Michael Pollan

    #1 New York Times Bestseller"A useful and funny pursesized manual that could easily replace all the diet books on your bookshelf." Tara ParkerPope, The New York Times A definitive ...

  • The Dorito Effect synopsis, comments

    The Dorito Effect

    Mark Schatzker

    A lively argument from an awardwinning journalist proving that the key to reversing America’s health crisis lies in the overlooked link between nutrition and flavor: “The Dorito Ef...

  • Mostly Plants synopsis, comments

    Mostly Plants

    Tracy Pollan, Dana Pollan, Lori Pollan & Corky Pollan

    New York Times and USA Today Bestseller"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." With these seven words, Michael Pollanbrother of Lori, Dana, and Tracy Pollan, and son of Corkystart...

  • Psychedelics and Psychotherapy synopsis, comments

    Psychedelics and Psychotherapy

    Tim Read, Maria Papaspyrou & Gabor Maté

    Examines the therapeutic potential of expanded states, underground psychedelic psychotherapy, harm reduction, new approaches for healing individual and collective trauma, and trai...

  • By the Smoke and the Smell synopsis, comments

    By the Smoke and the Smell

    Thad Vogler

    Spirits expert Thad Vogler, owner of the James Beard Award–winning Bar Agricole, takes readers around the world, celebrating the vivid characters who produce handmade spi...

  • What a Plant Knows synopsis, comments

    What a Plant Knows

    Daniel Chamovitz

    Thoroughly updated from root to leaf, this revised edition of the groundbreaking What a Plant Knows includes new revelations for lovers of all that is vegetal and verdant. Plants ...

  • Entangled Life synopsis, comments

    Entangled Life

    Merlin Sheldrake

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  A “brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) journey into the hidden lives of fungithe great connectors of the living worldand their astonishing an...

  • Heads synopsis, comments


    Jesse Jarnow

    Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America uncovers a hidden history of the biggest psychedelic distribution and belief system the world has ever known. Through a collection of fast...

  • Psychedelics and Spirituality synopsis, comments

    Psychedelics and Spirituality

    Thomas B. Roberts, Roger Walsh & Brother David Steindl-Rast

    Reveals how psychedelics can facilitate spiritual development and direct encounters with the sacred With contributions by Albert Hofmann, Huston Smith, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tar...

  • The Botany of Desire synopsis, comments

    The Botany of Desire

    Michael Pollan

    The book that helped make Michael Pollan, the New York Times bestselling author of Cooked and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the most trusted foo...

  • The Psychedelic Handbook synopsis, comments

    The Psychedelic Handbook

    Rick Strassman

    Learn everything you need to know about psychedelics with this ultimate guide packed with information on popular psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ketamine, MDMA, D...

  • Tasty synopsis, comments


    John McQuaid

    “A fascinating blend of culinary history and the science of taste” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), from the first bite taken by our ancestors to ongoing scientific advances in...

  • The Third Plate synopsis, comments

    The Third Plate

    Dan Barber

    “Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.” The Washington PostToday’s optimistic farmtotable food culture has a dark secret: the lo...