Author Michael Pollan to present Farwell Lecture, ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto,’ Feb. 23

Dec. 18, 2009

Michael Pollan, journalist and author of the best-selling books “In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals,” will speak at Luther College Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life main hall.

Pollan’s presentation, which takes its title from his book “In Defense of Food,” is the college’s 2010 Farwell Distinguished Lecture. The program is open to the public with no charge for admission.

Doors will open at 6 p.m., and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. A question-and-answer session with Pollan will follow the lecture.

Pollan’s appearance at Luther is in conjunction with the college’s sustainability initiative aimed at reducing the institution’s carbon footprint and making all its operations more in tune with the eco-systems of the region, state and nation. In October, Luther was recognized as one of the nation’s top 26 colleges and universities in sustainability initiatives on the College Sustainability Report Card issued by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

Luther’s sustainability initiatives address many of the issues Pollan has reported for more than 20 years in his books and articles about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs and architecture.

Among his best-known works are his recently published books “In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals,” which was named one of the 10 best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award and the James Beard Award for best food writing; it was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Pollan's previous book, “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World,” was also a New York Times best-seller, received the Border’s 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 He is also the author of “A Place of My Own” (1997) and “Second Nature” (1991).

A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine since 1987, Pollan’s writing has received numerous awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003, the John Burroughs prize for the best natural history essay in 1997, the QPB New Vision Award for “Second Nature,” the 2000 Reuters-I.U.C.N. Global Award for Environmental Journalism for his reporting on genetically modified crops and the 2003 Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award for his writing on animal agriculture.

His essays have appeared in many anthologies including “Best American Essays” (1990 and 2003 editions), “Best American Science Writing” (2004), and the “Norton Book of Nature Writing.” In addition to publishing regularly in the New York Times Magazine, his articles have appeared in Harper’s (where he served for many years as executive editor), Mother Jones, Gourmet, Vogue, Travel and Leisure, Gardens Illustrated and House & Garden.

In 2003, Pollan was appointed the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley 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 and gardening.

Pollan, 54, 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 San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son, Isaac.

Luther College’s Elwin and Helen Farwell Lecture Endowment was established in 1981 in recognition of the contributions the former president and his wife have made to the Luther community. Through the funding from the endowment, a wide variety of distinguished lecturers have come to Luther College. The lectures have covered topics from many different disciplines.

Michael Pollan (by Ken Light)