Michael Pollan’s This is Your Mind on Plants

Michael Pollan’s This is Your Mind on Plants

What a wonderful surprise to discover this renowned author Michael Pollan was scheduled to speak at Book Passage in Corte Madera, known as the busiest bookstore in the Bay Area, especially for book launches and signings. Pollan’s last book, It’s your mind on the plants, (which is available on Amazon), is a new way of thinking about drugs and humanity’s attraction to psychoactive plants.

Michael Pollan's This is Your Mind on Plants

Pollan often uses coffee as an example. People around the world, regardless of culture, turn to caffeine to sharpen their minds. As a writer who has had many deadlines over the years, I can attest to the usefulness of coffee as I try to get through a long night. How many times have I relied on coffee to shoot every night in college or in my career? No one would consider caffeine a drug; however, because we use it often and of course it is legal. He talked about an article he wrote for Harper’s earlier in his career on opium and while researching he found that making tea from the seed head of an opium poppy is a federal crime. In the video below, he shares some of his most humorous memories of that experience.

Those who follow Pollan’s work or have read his books would not necessarily consider him a writer who covers “drug history”. After all, he is best known for his writings about the places where “nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment.” His most famous books — The Botany of Desire and The omnivore’s dilemma — explore the socio-cultural impacts on food. During his interview at Book Passage with Mark Danner – a writer and educator who has covered foreign affairs, war and politics for three decades – he explained how his latest book, It’s your mind on the plantswas an attempt to go further than his original magazine article on opium which he wrote nearly twenty-five years ago.

Michael Pollan's This is Your Mind on Plants

While the interview was much larger than the unveilings of his latest book, the two writers explored the three main herbal drugs Pollan covered in the book: opium, caffeine, and mescaline. Times are changing and we all feel it. More than ever, people are interested in mood-altering states as a way to shift (if not expand) our levels of consciousness.

Michael Pollan's This is Your Mind on PlantsDespite humanity’s yearning for these deeper states of consciousness, our societies have created fear and even laws around plant medicine that can lead us there. As with everything, when used excessively or misused, drugs can lead to illness or, worse, death. That said, isn’t that also the case with alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter painkillers?

One of the things that Pollan demonstrates through his insightful research and reporting is that when we use certain drugs to alter our minds, “we we engage with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Says the book description of the value of books: “It holds a mirror to our basic human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world.”

What I liked about the discussion is the freshness observation that not only can it be useful for engaging with nature and I would say, other dimensional realities, but for psychological well-being. Pollan suggests that, “it does a reset and breaks some of the unhealthy cycles where people can I have lost hope.” This will be conduct at career opportunities as well as the need for those who can administer therapeutic psychedelic, increases. Pollan says the latest research from MAPS — an organization aimed at healing and general well-being through psychedelic drug development, therapist training programs, and sales, prioritizing public benefit over profit — suggest that we will need 100,000 trained facilitators. It should come as no surprise to learn that Pollan is the originator of a Center for Psychedelic Science and Public Education in Berkeley (launched September 2020). According to an article in Berkeley News, $1.25 million in seed funding came from an anonymous donor, the proceeds of which will be used for “investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain.

Michael Pollan's This is Your Mind on PlantsMescaline, one of the drugs he talks about in the books, apparently dates back 6,000 years when it was used by our native elders. Unlike many other drugs, mescaline requires about 14 hours. He says with a laugh, “When I’m done with mescaline, it’s not done with me. When he tried it during the pandemic, he said it didn’t send him to another planet in the outer space like other drug experiments have, but it stuck him in the present moment. Adding more humor to the memory, he remembers staring at apricots for hours. Later he added that “we need to explore its effects on neurons”.

What will capitalism do for psychedelics along the way? He claims that legislation and companies will remove the psychedelic side effects of the drug (change it at the laboratory and not at the factory level) and they will also turn longer experiences into “small bites”.

Since Pollan is the author of eight books, six of which have been New York Times bestsellers, it was also necessary to address the theme of writing in general. For writers like me who have written over ten thousand articles and are still struggling with the courage to release a book, we look to visionaries like Pollan for ideas. He says he is not a natural storyteller. Still, you need a narrative, so he often hangs it “on an experience.” For example, he says, “I like to write about ordinary things right in front of your face, like coffee.”

“I like to write about ordinary things right in front of your face, like coffee.” —Michael Pollan

Much of his writing stems from his experiences in nature, particularly gardening. Although he presents himself as a naturalist writer, he says he was never an observer or spectator of nature, but someone who likes to be in the trenches. Of course, gardening is one of them. As for the best takeaways in the book? I’ve only read a few pages so far, so stay tuned for more comments from the other side. Below is a video clip of some of the highlights of the interview.

Michael Pollan's This is Your Mind on Plants

Video recap

Renee Blodgett


Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online cultural and travel magazine with a global network of blogs and has contributors from every continent of the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also CEO and Founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and public relations. For more than 20 years, it has helped companies from 12 countries establish themselves in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and business launches, Renee practices what she offers and, as an active user of social media, helps clients navigate the digital waters around the world. . Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and writes regularly on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked the 12th social media influencer by Forbes magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman on social media by Forbes magazine in a Top 20 list.

His passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of his writing, the result of which has led to the production of six photobooks: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa South, Rome, urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings together entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers in other countries to share and learn from their peers, governments, companies and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate and promote innovative technologies.

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