Michael Pollan says he writes about where “nature and culture intersect,” places that often end up being on our dinner plates and in our bodies. His book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, won a James Beard Award and was one of The New York Times 10 best books of 2006. His follow-ups, Food Rules and In Defense of Food, among others, investigated food and agricultural systems so thoroughly that many people use Pollan’s work as a manifesto for the way they eat, shop and live. His line, “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much,” has now become the rallying cry for sustainable food advocates and those people just looking to eat a little better.
But Pollan’s latest book, How to Change Your Mind, departs from food issues and delves into psychedelic drugs and how they can be used to cure psychological disorders and connect us better to the world. Pollan, as in his other books, takes a hands-on approach and recounts his own experiences with psychedelics, using research to provide context for what he learned.
We talked with Pollan ahead of his appearance on June 1 hosted by the Boulder Book Store at First Congregational Church.
Boulder Weekly: I’m wondering if you’ve been surprised by this reaction that people seem to take your work as almost a prescription.
Michael Pollan: Yeah, I have been surprised. It didn’t occur to me when I was writing this new book that I was trying to transfer the authority I’ve earned with readers on issues having to do with food and agriculture and nutrition to this new area. When people tell me, “Oh, you’re going to do for psychedelics what you’ve done for food,” I bristle, because they’re not comparable. And, you know, I’m not being prescriptive. I am writing about very hopeful research, and I can see why people are getting excited about it.