A couple of nights ago, I had the great pleasure of watching acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan speak about his most recent best-selling book Cooked at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Once again, my super-supportive friend, Kathy, asked me to join her for yet another “food event” which she knew I’d enjoy. FYI, some of the other events we attended together included a lecture about raw foodism and an Ayurvedic cooking class at Bhagavat Life in NYC.
Although Michael Pollan is not a vegan, I’m still one of his biggest fans since he has been a major force in exposing the harshest truths about our country’s food industry, and has successfully shown how the “Western” diet hugely impacts our social, economic, and political policies. His wildly popular books include The Omnivore’s Dilemna, In Defense of Food, and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Although he has written so many profound words relating to the topic of food, his most famous words are contained in this simple, yet brilliant, quote aimed at putting an end to everyone’s question “what should I eat?”…
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Mr. Pollan was quite animated and enthusiastic as he spoke about Cooked which explores his journey learning to master a recipe from each of the four classical elements used for cooking: fire, water, air, and earth. By apprenticing with culinary masters, he learned how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment a variety of foods. Although his cooking adventures involved vegan “no-no’s” such as visiting a North Carolina barbecue pit specializing in roasting pigs (ugh!), I was impressed and agreed with some of the messages conveyed by Pollan during his discussion.
My Favorite Messages Conveyed by Michael Pollan At His Lecture:
1. The performance of cooking is one of the most significant occurrences in the history of food. The gathering of the family and friends to eat meals together began with cooking. Cooking led people to put food together in delicious combinations resulting in healthier meals. Simply put, cooking connects people.
2. Conversely, the effects of not cooking also have significant implications in the history of food. Our country’s growing reliance upon processed foods has caused us to become an unhealthier nation, and has contributed to the weakening of our relationships with family and friends.
3. If everyone would “get cooking” as they used to, the American food system would become healthier and more sustainable. Furthermore, the art of cooking should be reclaimed by our culture as something enjoyable and necessary which would lead to a more nourishing existence for all.
4. When an audience member asked Mr. Pollan to give his opinion about the new “powdered blend” meal replacement beverage Soylent, Mr. Pollan responded that such a product discounts the pleasure component of eating real food, and contradicts his belief that we should be moving away from processed foods.
5. Another audience member asked Mr. Pollan “If you could choose one thing to change about our food system, what would it be?,” Pollan quickly replied that he would eliminate the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. In discussing this topic, he talked about the extraordinary amount of pain and suffering of the animals caused by the use of antibiotics, and how our country’s thoughtlessness with regards to our consumption of meat is one of our biggest problems.
Michael Pollan Discusses The Gluten-Free Trend:
During his lecture, Pollan touched upon the popular issue of going gluten-free which he described as “a bit of a social contagion.” He expressed his opinion that the number of people that are genuinely gluten-sensitive, such as those with celiac disease, cannot be growing as fast as the market niche is growing. Although going gluten-free may make one feel better due to the removal of carbs from the diet, he warned against going gluten-free and then adopting a diet high in processed foods. Many of the gluten-free products currently on the market contain ingredients and food additives that he wouldn’t want to eat.
Organic Avenue Provided Delicious Food Samples:
On the evening of Michael Pollan’s appearance, the amazing Organic Avenue provided some of their delicious raw vegan food samples in the lobby outside of the auditorium. The samples included a green juice blend, a kale salad, and an amazing raw chocolate mousse made with avocados. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of an Organic Avenue store, I highly recommend that you try their raw avocado chocolate mousse.
The next day, I recalled having made a super simple chocolate avocado pudding myself in the past, and how it merely required blending a few ingredients. I searched through my recipe collection, and prepared one of my favorite recipes which came out delicious! There are so many possible variations of a great vegan avocado chocolate pudding, but I decided to post this one for you to enjoy.
2 ripe avocados
4 heaping tablespoons cacao powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup to 1 cup non-dairy milk, depending upon desired consistency
Blend all ingredients until smooth, spoon into small bowls, then cover and chill in the refrigerator.
You can serve this dessert topped with chopped pistachios or your other favorite nuts, strawberries, bananas, shredded coconut, or anything else you desire.
Hope you enjoy this simple recipe! Don’t forget to listen to Michael Pollan, and get into the kitchen and start cooking!
Click here to check out Organic Avenue’s delicious Chocolate Mousse.
Click here to read my post about Organic Avenue arriving in Roslyn, New York.
Click here for a great recipe for an easy Vegan Decadent Chocolate Pie.