Yes, Michael Pollan lives nearby in Berkeley but, no, I didn’t have dinner with him. My Michael Pollan dinner was a Michael Pollan type dinner. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he describes several dinners he had, to illustrate four different food chains described in detail in the book. One of those meals he prepared for friends, primarily from food he had grown, gathered or hunted himself. That’s the kind of dinner I mean.

I’ve been in a men’s group with the same group of guys for nearly 20 years. By tradition, the host picks the discussion topic for the evening and provides dinner. When I last hosted, I was racking my brain the day before, trying to figure out what to cook, when I realized I was at my peak summer harvest and had lots of food from my garden to make dinner. I would make make a Michael Pollan type meal for my friends, primarily from food I had grown myself.


Main dish: Spaghetti, using store-bought sauce, supplemented with home-grown tomatoes, crook-neck yellow squash and red sweet peppers. For protein, I pulled the remaining fava beans from last year’s harvest out of the freezer.

Side dish: Home-grown butternut squash.

Salad: Home-grown tomato and cucumber salad.

Dessert: Vanilla ice cream, topped with home-made applesauce made from home-grown apples.

I was surprised I could put together a full meal made primarily from home-made ingredients. But, it worked and the guys enjoyed it. What I like about this is that this was my real life. I wasn’t doing this as a one-off event, to help create copy for a book. This isn’t to diminish Pollan or his book in the least. He’s a talented writer who has done as much as anyone to raise awareness of the problems associated with industrial agriculture. In fact, I heartily recommend his book. It may provide the best introduction around to our industrial food system and the alternatives. Maybe it will inspire you to have your own Michael Pollan type meal. Or maybe my experience will.