Michael Pollan writes about human engagement with the natural world, in the landscape, on our plates, and in our imaginations, with a focus on the profound transformations that engagement can occasion. His most recent book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin Press, 2013), explores cooking as a defining human activity that reshapes the landscape, the course of human evolution, our health, and the health of the food system. Since then, he has written for the New Yorker about the therapeutic uses of psychedelic drugs, another way in which our engagement with other species can be transformative.
Pollan is working on a book about the human use of plants and fungi to induce altered states of consciousness: Why do we seek these states? What value do they have for individuals, culture, and the plants and fungi involved? What can these states teach us about “normal” consciousness and about disorders such as addiction, depression, and obsessive thinking?
Pollan—currently the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley—earned a bachelor’s from Bennington College and a master’s from Columbia University. He is the author of five New York Times best sellers, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Penguin Press, 2006) was among the year’s 10 best books in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Pollan has received numerous awards, including two James Beard Awards, the LennonOno Grant for Peace, and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest.