For the past twenty years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs, and architecture. He is the author of the bestsellers In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award for best food writing, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A revised, young readers’ edition of Omnivore’s Dilemma was published by Penguin in August 2015. Pollan's book, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, was also a New York Times bestseller, received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best non-fiction work of 2001, and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon.com. Pollan is also the author of A Place of My Own (1997) and Second Nature (1991). His book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, was an immediate # 1 New York Times bestseller upon publication; an expanded, illustrated edition of Food Rules was published in November 2011. His book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, was a New York Times bestseller. His newest book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, was an immediate best-seller.
A two-hour PBS documentary based on In Defense of Food was broadcast nationally in December 2015, and a four-hour Netflix miniseries based on Cooked premiered in February 2016. PBS presented a two-hour special documentary based on The Botany of Desire in fall 2009.
A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine since 1987, his writing has received numerous awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003; the John Burroughs prize (for the best natural history essay in 1997); the QPB New Vision Award (for his first book, Second Nature); the 2000 Reuters-I.U.C.N. Global Award for Environmental Journalism for his reporting on genetically modified crops; and the 2003 Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture. In 2009 he was named one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders” by Newsweek magazine. His essays have appeared in many anthologies, including Best American Essays (the 1990 and 2003 editions), Best American Science Writing (2004), and the Norton Book of Nature Writing. In addition to publishing regularly in the New York Times Magazine, his articles have appeared in Harper’s (where he served for many years as executive editor), Mother Jones, Gourmet, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Gardens Illustrated, and The Nation. He also wrote the foreword to the tenth anniversary edition of Marion Nestle's Food Politics. Michael Pollan was chosen by Time Magazine for the 2010 Time 100 in the Thinkers category. The James Beard Foundation named him as a recipient of their 2014 Leadership Award. In 2014 Michael Pollan was awarded the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
In 2003, Pollan was appointed the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. In addition to teaching, he lectures widely on food, agriculture, and gardening.
Michael Pollan, who was born in 1955, grew up on Long Island, and was educated at Bennington College, Oxford University, and Columbia University, from which he received a Master’s in English. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son, Isaac.
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Photo Jeannette Montgomery Barron