"We’ve been brainwashed to think of [cooking] as drudgery," says Michael Pollan. With his new Netflix docu-series Cooked, Pollan, the acclaimed food journalist and bestselling author, is trying to rewrite that narrative. Based on his 2013 book by the same name, the four-part series delves into the history of eating habits in America and around the world, and the factors that have led so many people to move away from the home-cooked meal. "The story I'm telling is a very simple story," Pollan says. "Which is: Look how valuable [cooking] is. Look how interesting it is. Look how pleasurable it can be." We spoke with Pollan about the politics of food, the limitations of voting with your fork, and why he believes that celebrating the pleasures of home cooking can help change the world—at least a little bit.
F&W: How and why did you decide to bring Cooked to the screen?
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MP: Well, I’ve done films or TV projects based on several of my other books. I love documentary, and I also understand the limitations of books. A very successful book only reaches a couple hundred thousand people—and that’s a big bestseller—whereas with television we can reach a much bigger audience. I'm very interested in meeting my readers, or viewers, wherever they are. So that was appealing to me. I also really like watching what another head does with a subject that I’ve worked on for a couple of years. There are many things in the film that were not in the book. It was very exciting that [filmmaker] Alex Gibney was interested in doing it, and working with him was really gratifying.