Facing the advance of food industrialisation, Michael Pollan proposes to cook
The new work of the American journalist, author of books such as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is a tour of the world, an invitation to return to the kitchen as a place that made us humans. Globalising his struggle, he chose the platform Netflix to launch a documentary series to raise awareness of the food system on a large scale.
Italians who don't cook pasta, Indians who eat instant curry, Moroccans who make bread with industrial flour. It is not a question of breaking down prejudices, but a sample of how far away we are from the act of cooking, from a world which by nature we suppose is human, at the end of the day is unknown. This is the world reality that the American writer, Michael Pollan, unveils in the documentary series "Cooked", available on the streaming platform Netflix.
Since 1991 the journalist has published articles and books that expose the food industry, explaining what we eat, how we eat and why. The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006) and The Botany of Desire (2001) are two of his nine publications that contain facts and explanations that make the reader aware of the effect of his choices when it comes to buying food and eating. Pollan has undertaken to unveil the consequences of selling food at such low prices.
Although his books focus on the USA, the scenario he recreates is global. Precisely this universality is what he manages to capture in "Cooked", first because he manages to bring his latest publication Cooked: a natural history of transformation (2013), to a new level of dissemination, but also because, thanks to the executive producer Alex Gibney, the series takes the spectator to places which Pollan does not include in his book. The scenarios vary between Australia, India, Morocco, Peru and the USA, giving examples of the role of the four basic elements under which the episodes are entitled: fire, water, air and earth.
Pollan provides basic lessons on Food Anthropology, such as the fact that fire marked a milestone in our evolution because cooking and chewing meat differentiates us from other species. In addition he has the help of experts such as Nathan Myhrvold, of the Modernist cuisine, to explain scientific and chemical processes behind cooking techniques. He even includes current stories that make the series a documentary with a human mirror, in which he recounts testimonies like an American nun, Noella Marcellino, who studied microbiology to understand and improve her production of French cheeses.
At the same time, Pollan explains the consequences that industrialisation has had on our health and, especially on our relations with nature. And even though it may, at times, seem staggering, "Cooked" has the virtue of also offering hope: the solution to the crisis is returning to the kitchen. It is a series that exhorts taking action on a day-to-day basis. A call to take advantage of good ingredients and transform them into pleasure, coexistence and quality of life.