Michael Pollan With More On Coffee

When it comes to updating my knowledge about coffee I am omnivorous, and so Michael Pollan’s work is always welcome. He recently shared more about this work, and thankfully the Radcliffe Institute shared the zoom talk. If you are inclined to geek out on coffee, take an hour for that; or at least it is worthy of a few minutes if you only have time to read the summary:

How caffeine changed the world

Author Michael Pollan discusses his latest work on the world’s most-used psychoactive substance

Coffee & Caffeine, Better Understood


Some days everything comes up roses. Today was one. This morning my scanning routine, looking for what to share here, was made easy by the image above and the headline below it: Is Coffee Good for You? Yes! But it depends on the kind of coffee and the quantity. My favorite takeaway, among many, points to the benefits of filtered coffee. Read each section and take what matters most to your coffee life.

PollanCaffeineMichael Pollan, first mentioned here in 2011, has been so frequently featured over the years it is fair to say he is one of our heroes (those links cover only part of the first year of this platform; dozens more since 2012). In a recent interview Pollan discusses his own findings related to coffee, and specifically its caffeine. The interview was promoting his new book, available in audible form. What I heard in the interview was just enough to ensure I click to the right when I have the 2+ hours to listen…

2017, Year Of Wilderness Conservation, Farming & Food

CCL Board.jpg

A few days ago Arnay, the General Manager of Chan Chich Lodge, posted a snapshot of the sightings board just outside the reception area, where guests share what they have seen on any given day while trekking with guides, or trekking solo. 2016 was not exceptional for Chan Chich, but it was another year of exceptional opportunity to witness the abundance that comes with committed conservation.

The big cats made their presence known day after day after day. The entire food chain on which they depend was right there with them, well balanced in the 30,000 acres of forest that Chan Chich protects, surrounded by an additional nearly half million acres that other private conservation-minded land-owners protect in northwest Belize. Continue reading

Food For Thought


Author Michael Pollan speaks to a packed house at Radcliffe. Photograph by Tony Rinaldo

And to round out our links outward today on food-related themes, this one from Harvard Magazine seems a fitting complement to today’s two other news-feature items:

Michael Pollan’s Crooked Writing Path

WHETHER HE IS WRITING a book on big farming and the way Americans think about food, or interviewing terminal cancer patients who have had life-altering experiences through hallucinogenic drugs, author Michael Pollan’s career as a writer has been anything but traditional. Continue reading

Defining A Word We All Use Constantly, And Are Concerned About

Illustration by Javier Jaén

Illustration by Javier Jaén

Thanks to one of the great writers on food-related ethical issues for getting us to think about a core definition for our everyday vocabulary, including taken-for-granted words like this one:

Why ‘Natural’ Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore


It isn’t every day that the definition of a common English word that is ubiquitous in common parlance is challenged in federal court, but that is precisely what has happened with the word “natural.” During the past few years, some 200 class-action suits have been filed against food manufacturers, charging them with misuse of the adjective in marketing such edible oxymorons as “natural” Cheetos Puffs, “all-natural” Sun Chips, “all-natural” Naked Juice, “100 percent all-natural” Tyson chicken nuggets and so forth. The plaintiffs argue that many of these products contain ingredients — high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colorings, chemical preservatives and genetically modified organisms — that the typical consumer wouldn’t think of as “natural.” Continue reading

Forbidden Fruit

Second only to bananas, apples are one of the most popular fruits in many parts of the world. Yet when domesticated and planted in monoculture production, they run the risk of falling into the same trap as their “homecoming king” cousins, i.e. susceptibility to pests that requires a great deal of chemical hand holding.

A member of the rose family, there are believed to be 7,500 cultivars of Malus domestica, stemming from their original Western Asian ancestors.  In fact, the apple is believed to be the earliest tree to be cultivated, beginning in what is now southern Kazakhstan and eastern Turkey. The fruit has played a staring role in mythology and folk tales, from the Greeks to the Germanic and northern European cultures, and finally taking center stage in Renaissance depictions of Biblical lore in the 15th Century CE. Continue reading