If you missed hearing Michael Pollan give the keynote address for Destination Wellness on Saturday, don’t fret. We took really good notes. Here’s a partial, paraphrased transcript of Saturday’s question and answer session with Dishing contributor Annie Fenn (who deserves a big cookie and pat on the back for her incredibly well-researched questions). Thanks for the wonderful event.
AF: How do you get the message of healthy eating to those that need it the most and have the least means of achieving it?
MP: Right now, not everyone can afford to eat sustainably, and we have to figure out why that is so. You’re not paying the real price of cheap food. The cost of that burger is being fobbed off onto the environment at a tremendous cost to our water and our public health. They’re using pharmaceuticals to make that cheap burger. We pay for that when antibiotics no longer work for patients. Dishonest food pricing is baked into our economy. We spend less on food than any other people that’s ever lived. As we have driven down the cost of food, we’ve also let wages fall. We need to give people a living wage so they can afford to buy really good food.
AF: You have written about the deterioration of America’s food culture. How do we rebuild it, especially in families who don’t have time to sit down to dinner?
MP: The real money is not in agriculture, it’s in processing food. The culture of cooking is atrophying. There are few cooks. People are too busy. They don’t do home ec in schools anymore. I think we need to bring that back. Real food cooked by real people is really the answer.
AF: Do you get many dinner invitations, or are people too intimidated to cook for you?
MP: We get many fewer dinner invitations than we did before I started writing. There are a certain number of people who really don’t want to deal with it. I’m a really nice guest. I’m appreciative. I don’t ask where the meat came from. Once, I was invited to speak in Lubbock, Texas. Normally after I speak, they take me to the town’s only farm to table restaurant. In Lubbock, they dropped me off in front of the Chipotle. I hate that. Chipotle is fine, it’s a better choice than some. But I was expecting dinner.
AF: Winter is long here, and our growing season is short. We go from a very short food chain in the summer and fall to a very long one in the winter. Do you have any advice for a community that strives to eat locally sourced foods during the seven to eight months of winter?
MP: Historically how people got through winter was fermented food. They made pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. It’s worth remembering what they did 100 years ago. But you are starting to see year-round farmers markets. So the answer is do what you can do. And don’t forget the pickles.