An Evening with Michael Pollan

The Center for the Arts and BriarPatch Co-op present
Friday, November 8, 8:00PM
A conversation moderated by Beth Ruyak
of Capital Public Radio, followed by
audience Q & A and a book signing 

Johnny Woolman and the Wombats performing from 7:00 to 8:00PM
General Admission
$45 Center & BriarPatch members
$50 non-member

$60 Premium: includes reserved seating and parking

What would Michael Pollan eat?That dilemma has perplexed many of his speaking-engagement hosts who feel compelled to feed him, Pollan said. The New York Times best-selling author and world-famous omnivore swears he’s not a picky eater. He’s just careful about his food choices and very thoughtful about where that meal may have come from.

“People stress out, but they shouldn’t,” Pollan said with a chuckle. “I’d rather eat than eat nothing.”

Click HERE to read more.

With the publication of his 2006 bestselling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan began a journey through the food chain that has changed the way Americans eat. In two subsequent books, In Defense of Food and Food Rules, Pollan examined the human end of the food chain: how we eat, what we eat, and the implications of these choices for our health. Now, Michael Pollan explores previously uncharted territory: his own kitchen. In his new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Pollan casts a keen eye on the missing middle link of the food chain: how we transform plants and animals into meals and, ultimately, why cooking matters.

For the past twenty-five years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. He is the author the forthcoming book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (available April 23, 2013) and of four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001). The Omnivore’s Dilemma was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by both the New York Times and the Washington Post. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A young readers edition called The Omnivore’s Dilemma: the Secrets Behind What You Eat was published in 2009. In 2011, Pollan published a illustrated version of Food Rules with beautiful new paintings by Maira Kalman. The Botany of Desire 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 PBS premiered a two-hour special documentary based on The Botany of Desire in fall 2009. Pollan is also the author of A Place of My Own (1997) and Second Nature (1991).


  • Pollan was named to the 2010 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
  • In 2009 he was named by Newsweek as one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders.”
  • A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine since 1987, his writing has received numerous awards:
  • he was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in 2009 for best essay;
  • he received the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003;
  • the John Burroughs prize in 1997 for best natural history essay;
  • 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;
  • the 2003 Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture;
  • the 2008 Truth in Agricultural Journalism Award from the American Corngrowers Association;
  • the 2009 President’s Citation Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and
  • the 2009 Voices of Nature Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

His essays have appeared in many anthologies, including Best American Essays (1990 and 2003), Best American Science Writing (2004), the Norton Book of Nature Writing, and The New Kings of Non-Fiction, edited by Ira Glass. In addition to publishing regularly in The New York Times Magazine, his articles have appeared in Harper’s Magazine (where he served as executive editor from 1984 to 1994), National Geographic, Mother Jones, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Gourmet, House & Garden and Gardens Illustrated, among others. In 2009, he appeared in a two-hour PBS special based on The Botany of Desire as well as in the documentary, Food Inc., which received an Academy Award nomination.

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, health and the environment.

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.

cooked-coverCooked: A Natural History of Transformation

In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth— to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture. Both realms are transformed by cooking, and so, in the process, is the cook.

beth-ruyakAs host of KXJZ’s “Insight” Beth Ruyak delights in the opportunity to communicate and converse in the region she calls home.  People ask her about the differences between television and radio broadcasting; she says she tries to fill in the visuals with language, sounds, voice and imagination.  To Beth, being part of the Capital Public Radio team is a privilege, an adventure and a great reason to go to work everyday.  Of course, so is the dance as she calls it, with the guests and audience on “Insight.”

When Beth landed her first job as a reporter more than thirty years ago, she knew she had found a career.  What she couldn’t have imagined, is the people she would meet, miles she would travel and how curious the journey would be.

Beth’s first boss called her the “neophyte newsie,” but he taught her the basics of broadcast writing and how to take the work one-interview-at-a-time.  She found her way from newsrooms in Minnesota to California, and still, the career kept her moving.  Covering news, sports, science, health, arts and entertainment, Beth worked as a reporter, anchor, producer, and writer.  She hosted daytime television, magazine shows, special events and live coverage.  Among the highlights of her career: sideline reporting from 5 Olympic Games and Super Bowl XXV, traversing Europe for 3 Tour de France bicycle races (becoming the first woman television journalist to cover the event), co-hosting “The Home Show,” and guest co-hosting “Good Morning America.” Her news, sports and health reporting have earned Emmy awards and opportunities to interview, learn from and tell stories about people all over the world.

Johnny Woolman and The Wombats, are an eclectic collection of musically talented friends from all over the country. They are high school students and staff members from The Woolman Semester School peace, social justice, and sustainability studies program. They will explore genres far and wide with vocals, strings, percussion, and woodwinds. They are thrilled to be playing in celebration of a long-time Woolman campus hero, Michael Pollan.

Sponsored by
Briar Patch LOGO2

Leave a Reply

To send your comment, please do the math below. THANKS! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.