Cooked: A Natural History of transformation — Michael Pollan

Talks at Google

Published November 18, 2013



The best predictor of a healthy diet, regardless of income, is whether or not it was cooked at home.

Paradox: cooking less but watching more cooking on TV

1965 – average cooking time — more than 1 hour/person/day

Now – 27 minutes with 4 minutes cleaning time

Cooking — marketing experts define it as combination of two ingredients

Cooking is central to our identities as humans.

Cooking—–> called food processing in large corporations

  • ingredients not high quality
  • high in fat, salt, and sugar
  • make labor-intensive, special-occasion food so accessible so we can eat cake, french fries, etc, everyday

Four Technologies of Cooking

  1. Fire — meat over fire. externalized much of the body’s work to digest food. freed up a lot of time of chewing. led to eating in a different way — cooperation, sharing
  2. Water — started around 10,000 years ago. cooking in pots. agriculture begins. Can now cook grains, tough parts of animals. Cuisines started. keep people alive longer — old people who don’t have teeth can now eat soft food
  3. Air – baking
  4. Fermentation — no heat used. purely through the action of microbes. began as a preservation method. break down the plant and release lactic acid which is a preservative

How Cooking Can Change your Life — Michael Pollan

The RSA /Published September 4, 2013


Professor of Journalism, University of Berkely

Cooking is one of the simplest and most important steps people can take to

  • improve their family’s health
  • build communitites
  • fix our broken food system
  • break our growing dependence on corporations

The middle link of the food chain (the one that transforms farm products to meals) – infuential

McDonalds French Fries

  • Russet Burbank potatoes
  • American, long, difficult to grow
  • Net necrosis eliminated by killing the aphids by  a toxic pesticide, a neurotoxin, METHAMIDOPHOS (Monitor)

Fat, salt, sugar — incredibly addicitve when layered properly

Even poor women who cook have better health than wealthier woman who do not

Home cooking – declined since 1960s

  • a drudgery
  • something we don’t have skills for

At present 27 minutes cooking. with 4 minutes clean up.

Fast food industry – flattering our busy-ness “you don’t have time to cook,. you’re a loser if you have time to cook.”

During World War 2 – started to learn how to prolong shelf life


  • women went to work in large numbers — “We need to renegotiate the division of labor in the home” — food industry , “stop arguing, we”ll do the cooking for you.”
  • they defined not cooking as the forward-looking thing to do

Marketing — You create anxiety and then you offer a solution.

Role of the state/ Social Engineering

New York Mayor Micahel Bloomberg — 16 ounces be biggest cup for soda

Eat anything you want just cook it yourself. –Harry Balzer

The Personal Brand of You

How to personally brand yourself to stand out from the crowd

By Rob Brown (Global networking expert and bestselling author of the book “How to Build Your Reputation”)

TEDx UoN (University of Nottingham, England, United Kingdom)

Published January 3, 2014

To watch the video, click here

Photo credit

Every single one of us in sales.  Above all, we are selling ourselves. If I don’t buy you I won’t buy anything that stands behind you. But if I get to know, like and trust you, then chances are, I will buy from you.

Problem: Noise: social media, www dumps billions of information on you every single day, more and more people graduating

  • looking for the same jobs
  • with the same CV or resume
  • with the same pay packet to service the same customers and patiendts
  • offering the same products and services
  • Everything looks and sounds the same

and everybody is saying choose me, pick me, go out with me, marry me, promote me, recommend me, pay me.

and the word hears: noise

Sameness sucks. — Gary Hamel, US management expert

How do we standout?

The answer is in your Reputation = What people feel, see, think, say, do when they come in contact with you or your name. That’s your name. That’s what people talk about when you’re not there.

When your reputation is good, people will find and choose you. Standout. Work on having a good reputation. The ones with good names get the perks, the interesting projects, the ones whom people go to them instead of them chasing everybody else. So what’s your reputation?

How do you get the to even think about you? If we can get people to think and talk about us then we have the chance to be the number one, compelling, obvious, go-to-choice  for what we do.

We want people to pay us three things:

  1. Attention. When people need what you do, how can you ensure that they will pick you first  above and beyond all the other choices, including the choice to do nothing.
  2. Respect. Supporting and encouraging you and paying a fair day’s work. and people defending you’re attacked. People being nice to you.
  3. Money


4 Things you can do to standout in a room of equals

  1. Work with your red box. What is it about me that is unique? What is it that they find it difficult to copy or replicate?
  • Character (values)
  • Competence (knowledge, expertise, experiences, skills, talents)
  • Personal brand – outward manifestation of what you have inside.
  • Reputation – what they think when they interact with your personal brand.

2. Build your network – who you know

  • starts when you are young
  • talking with people
  • Your richest resources will always be in your richest relationships.

Network continually. 85% of all jobs are filled through contacts and personal references. — Brian Tracy, World leading authority on productivity and personal development

More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject of networking.” – Peter Drucker, Author and world-renowned management consultant

Build your network and dig that well before you’re thirsty.

3. Raise your profile. Speak and write.

4. Be authentic. Be yourself.

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.– Oscar Wilder

If you look and sound like everyone else, you will not standout.

Look, sound and work just a little bit better than everyone else. And to do that, focus on your red box and you will become the number one go-to choice for what you do,

The Miracle Morning

The not-so-obvious secret guaranteed to transform your life before 8 AM

By Hal Elrod


  1. Silence – pray or meditate to set yourself apart for something bigger
  2. Affirmations – the more you tell yourself something will happen, the more likely it is to actually happen
  3. Visualization – We can do anything imaginable. but first we have to imagine it
  4. Exercise will boost your mood and help you focus the rest of the day
  5. Reading – something that will motivate and inspire you
  6. Scribing – write down your thoughts. What I did yesterday. To do today. Things I’m grateful for

Habits – make your mind work on autopilot

Best way to form a habit — > find an accountability partner

Also take note of:

Rear view mirror syndrome – a previous negative experience that prevents us from creating new experiences

Isolating Incidents – by isolating an event of today, you affect who you are as a whole


5 Minute Journal

A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day / Intelligent Change

  • Focuses your attention on the good in your life
  • helps you complain less, appreciate more
  • helps you finally keep a journal.


  • I am grateful for…
  • What would make today great?
  • Daily affirmations. I am…


  • 3 Amazing things that happened today
  • How could I have made this day better?

The Sleep Cure

The fountain of youth may be closer than you ever thought

By Alice Park

TIME February 27-March 6, 2017, pp. 56-60

Mark Zielinski

  • Psychiatry teacher at Harvard Medical School
  • mice sleep experiment – to understand the causes of insomnia and then how to fix it
  • the body’s signal that it’s time to sleep can be change

Sleep deprivation

can compromise nearly every major body system

higher risk for early death, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, dementia, depression, , anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

I used to suggest that sleep is the third pillar of good health, along with diet and exercise. But I don’t agree with that anymore. Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body for health. — Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

Because we’re asleep, we don’t see the benefits of it. That’s the disaster and tragedy of our current world. — Robert Stickgold, Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School

American Cancer Society 2002 study

  • 6-year study
  • more than 1 million healthy men and women
  • Conclusion: 7 hours of sleep each night is the amount needed for longevity (people who slept 7 hours were most likely to be alive at the end of the study compared to those who slept 6 hours or less, or 8 hours or more)

Finland study

  • 22-year study
  • 21,000 twins
  • Conclusion: Those who regularly slept less that 7 hours daily were 21-26% more likely to die of any cause during the period of study compared to those who slept 8 hours or  more.

Dr. Maiken Nedergaard

  • Neuroscientist, University of Rochester
  • 2014
  • sleep- the body and brain are active on the molecular level
  • brain is active cleaning out debris
  • neurons pulse with electrical signals that wash over the brain in a rhythmic flow
  • checks the balance of hormones, enzymes and protein
  • brain cells contract, opening up the spaces between them so that fluid can wash out toxic accumulations
  • without that nightly wash cycle– damage healthy cells
  • short term effect: impede memory, ability to compose our thoughts and manage emotions
  • long term effect: faster aging of brain cells

Effects of sleep in mental health

Deep quality sleep, over consistent nights:

  • revisits the events of the day in a more organized way
  • processes the emotions attached to those recollections
  • strips some memories of some powerful feelings – fear, grief, anger or joy– that might have clouded the experiences in the heat of the moment
  • allows remembering without reliving
  • removes emotional baggage
  • stores the memory in a neutral way

We sleep to remember and we sleep to forget. I call it overnight therapy. — M. Walker

  • without this, more PTSD (common even in the general population)
  • Walker’s Experiment: Show a scary video. Let one group sleep and the other not. Those who did not not sleep remembered the negative aspects of the video more


Insufficient sleep

  • may be a trigger for (not just a symptom) depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, manic episodes
  • makes the body under constant stress —> inflammation
  • chronic inflammation—-> some cancers, cognitive decline, heart disease, type 2 Diabetes, chronic pain

The biggest thing I do to improve my sleep is to pull the plug. — R. Stickgold

Make sleep a priority.