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Ten morsels from Michael Pollan

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Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan, most recently the author of "Cooked," as well as the "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and other books, speaks with MPR's Kerri Miller in The Daily Circuit studio on Thursday, May 2, 2013.
MPR Photo/Hart Van Denburg

Here's a taste of Michael Pollan's conversation with Kerri Miller on The Daily Circuit:

1. You cannot survive on flour and water. There aren't enough nutrients. But you can survive on whole grain bread.  

2. The food shows treat cooking like a competitive sport and make it "really intimidating," said Pollan. But he swears cooking is actually "approachable and easy to do." His recommendation: Take a half hour that you spend watching food shows and try it yourself.

3. If you start cooking regularly, "one things rolls into another." Leftover vegetables from one meal can be used in a soup. Leftover chicken can be used in tacos. Cooking is harder if you only do it once or twice a week. 

4. Even Pollan was put off cooking. What kept him out of the kitchen was his dislike of chopping onions.  

5. As a culture, we spend more time on secondary eating — eating while doing something else — than on primary eating (the FDA's name for a meal). Pollan recently saw someone jogging while eating. 

Cooked by Michael Pollan
The cover of "Cooked" by Michael Pollan.
Courtesy of the publisher

6. Cooking is a way to take charge of your diet. "When you let corporations cook for you, they don't cook very well," said Pollan. Packaged foods contain too much salt, fat and sugar.

7. Cooking is no longer obligatory. You don't have to do it. But Pollan says we should see the choice to cook as liberating. A top reason that Pollan chooses to cook: He loves the transformations that he sees when baking bread. "It's magic," he says.

8. All it takes to go from a can of tomatoes to a really good sauce is one onion. Skip the convenience of the bottled tomato sauce. "They are putting things in that food that you would never put in yourself. So why let them?"

9. All you need is one cast iron pan, one knife and one cutting board, and the world will open up to you.

10. "Raw vegetables are intimidating," said Pollan. And people feel bad when they let them spoil, so they avoid buying them. Pollan says that all you have to do to get over that fear is learn how to make a frittata. Or start a compost pile.

Pollan, the author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and other books, will give a talk  in the "Inspiring Minds" series at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park. 

His new book, "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation" surveys how the four classical elements — fire, water, air and earth — transform plants and animals into food, according to NPR. 

  LEARN MORE ABOUT MICHAEL POLLAN: 

• Pollan Cooks!
"The seven most famous words in the movement for good food are: 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.' They were written, of course, by Michael Pollan, in 'In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto,' the follow-up to "The Omnivore's Dilemma." (The New York Times)

• The Wendell Berry Sentence That Inspired Michael Pollan's Food Obsession
"Perhaps more than any living writer, Michael Pollan has convinced America that food is a story — and that there's pleasure, health, and good conscience in untangling farm-to-fork narratives. For many, books like The Omnivore's Dilemma have been a gateway to more mindful eating, a path to heightened curiosity about farming and the natural world, a road to the conviction that we really are what we eat." (The Atlantic)

• Book pick: "Cooked," by Michael Pollan
"Kerri's book pick this week is "Cooked," the latest from science writer Michael Pollan. It's part history, part how-to, and part a call for Americans to pick up spatulas and mandolines." (MPR)

• Michael Pollan spreads the word about eating food
"Journalist and food expert Michael Pollan was often asked for advice about the best things to eat." (MPR)

• 'The Omnivore's Dilemma'
"Author Michael Pollan speaks about the food we eat — and the way we grow and distribute it. He says Congress should pass a 'food bill,' not a 'farm bill.'" (MPR)