Michael Pollan is neither a farmer nor a scientist-by-training. He is a writer and media presenter. Yet Michael Pollan has become a food and agriculture guru to the elitist Left, which is actually the centrist Right by any sane political analysis. In other words, he is preaching to the choir of Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman and all the Manhattanite-wannabes who will listen intently with bleeding hearts and greedy stomachs.
Pollan's latest push for celebrity comes in the form of a four-episode show on Netflix, Cooked. I had the distinct displeasure of watching the first, and perhaps my single, episode last evening. Where did Netflix think the appeal of this show resides exactly, I asked myself continuously.
The show tries to draw lines between impoverished aboriginal Australians, South Carolinian rural folk and Michael Pollan by way of fire and roasted pigs. Now the pig part has ample potential, especially when applied to the elitist class from which Pollan emerged: Son of wealthy New Yorkers, youthful summers on Martha's Vineyard alongside singer James Taylor, education at Columbia, etc.. However, the roasting of the pig for long hours around stifling fumes in sweltering heat seems to have little to do with Pollan, sustainability or economic equality.
The most annoying exploitation of this narcissistic pseudo-scientific exercise by posh Pollan is the footage of the native Australians. The subtext is that these aboriginal people, who do not eat pigs by the way, are happier in their rural poverty than they could be in a 21st century context of an affluent Australia. This is simply outrageous, especially when coming from a 1-percenter who shuffles around looking folksy and making flat statements about nutrition and metabolism like a cellular biologist who has proven theories himself about everything to do with the subjects.
I understand why Pollan is a hero of some in the small/local agriculture/cuisine movement. I applaud the notions of sustainability and hard work for better nutrition. Pollan may see himself as a missionary, but Cooked on Netflix is simply a half-baked ego trip for a wealthy person who cannot get enough attention.