MEDIA: NYT Book Review –
June 4, 2018 – Michael Pollan has long been concerned with the moral dilemmas of everyday life. “Second Nature,” his first book, was ostensibly about gardening, but really about ways to overcome our alienation from the natural world. “A Place of My Own,” his second, chronicled the “radically unhandy” Pollan’s construction of his writing studio. “The Botany of Desire,” his third and possibly greatest book, put him back in the garden, though in a more global state of mind. He then went on to write four searching books that wrestled, in one way or another, with the ethics of eating, one of which contained Pollan’s now widely shared haiku: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Unlike many best-selling nonfiction writers, Pollan doesn’t write self-help books that cross-dress as narrative nonfiction. He’s entirely too skeptical for that. At the same time, though, he’s an often relentlessly sunny, affirmative writer. “In Defense of Food,” Pollan’s most polemical book, despairs of American eating habits, yet concludes with the dainty recommendation to eat local as often as possible. Pollan’s literary persona has a rare, almost Thoreauvian affect: the lovable scold.