• Troy Kinney

Michael Pollan's COOKED: Air (on Netflix)



I felt like this episode was kneading my mind, expanding my understanding of the importance of another aspect of cooking. It really hit into my heart and my faith. Michael Pollan explains early in the episode when he was talking to the food scientist Bruce German, “He told me something I didn’t realize. That if I gave you a bag of flour, and water, and you had nothing else to live on, you could live on that for a while, but eventually you would die. But, if you take that same bag of flour, and water, and bake it into bread, you could live indefinitely.” Here we begin to understand what Pollan is getting at and it is that something happens to those simple ingredients (water, flour, and some salt) from something that won’t keep us alive into something that will.

How is that? And how is it that man has always known this? Bread is that important and apparently it always has been.

For me, the Bible came to mind. Within the Christian church we read phrases like, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” This is found in Deuteronomy chapter 8, spoken to the people starving in exile who were given manna (a bread provided by God) to eat each day in order to understand their dependence upon God for life. Even Jesus in the New Testament quotes that verse to fend off Satan’s temptations during His time of fasting (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). There is more to this idea of bread in the Bible, though. A biblical connection to bread and to life is made, literally. In the 6th chapter of John’s gospel Jesus explains that He is bread; not just bread, but the bread of life. In fact, he explains that He is the bread from heaven (like that manna), supplied by God the Father, and that whoever believes this will not go hungry or thirsty. Then there is the Eucharist itself: Communion, the Lord’s Supper, where it is explained once again that bread signifies Christ’s body. There is a reason the Bible uses bread as the main metaphor for life everlasting. Because bread is life.

Then there was another personal revelation as I watched. Pollan explained that,

“We are all connected by the price of bread… governments work very hard to keep the price of bread down because …every political leader knows you can lose your head if the price of bread goes up too fast…whenever the price of bread spikes there will be political unrest and the reason is that bread is the bedrock food. If you can’t afford meat, and you can’t afford vegetables, you can usually still afford bread.”

At this point in the video there are archived news clips of masses of people rioting and crowds screaming about bread. He mentions the French Revolution and The Arab Spring. Then an experience from my past blew up in my head.

In my freshman year of college my English 102 professor handed us a series of poems. One of the poems was a John Nist poem, "Revolution: The Vicious Circle". The poem is quite simple and I present what I remember below:

bread!

b r e a d !

B r e a d !

B r e a d !

B R E A D !

dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead - dead.

bread!

b r e a d !

B r e a d !

B r e a d !

B R E A D !

Basically the word “bread!” in the poem represents people as they demand, gather and protest. The “dead” in the poem represents the war/death that occurs if the bread is unobtainable by the people. My professor read the “dead” like a machine gun.

Pollan also addresses the gluten problem that seems to be occurring today, either through popularity or reality. The response to it is intriguing. The fact that we make “bread” today with such a lack of nutrition that we must fortify it with “good things” like vitamins and minerals means our breads are not crafted correctly and lack proper fermentation among other things. It takes ten-plus ingredients to create our store-shelf breads. It is a wonder that anyone in such a soft white flour society can eat any gluten at all.

Finally, I must say once again, that the show is filmed most beautifully, artistically by Robert Barocci. The visual is so vibrant and alive in the scenery and in the characters we encounter. Pollan at last says that to take a small amount of food that can be transformed into a large amount, out of thin air, an element that is readily available to everyone…air. It is a miracle.

Check out my book Watching Movies, Watching Stories on Amazon: http://a.co/d/eI4FztE

-TK

#MichaelPollan #cooked #netflix #Air #TroyKinney

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Phoenix, AZ, USA

©2018 by TroyKinney