For Michael Pollan, eating is about much more than getting sustenance. The food expert and author has long been touting the importance of paying attention to what's on your plate, understanding exactly where your food comes from and becoming a conscious eater, which he says can elevate your entire well-being.
In talking with Oprah about the spiritual side of food on "Super Soul Sunday," Pollan explains how his overarching philosophy about the deeper meaning of food came to him in his garden. As he writes in his book, Second Nature: A Gardener's Education, the garden is a place that can teach us many life lessons. One of those is about perfectionism.
The garden is an unhappy place for the perfectionist. Too much stands beyond our control here, and the only thing we can absolutely count on is eventual catastrophe.
In reading this passage from the book, Oprah also points out that the garden has another purpose that extends beyond soil and seeds: It can also be a metaphor for life. Pollan agrees.
"The garden is a great metaphor," he says. "One of the things it's a metaphor for is the fact [that] you can't control everything."
This lack of control is due to the simple fact that no one person (or plant) operates in a bubble. We all fit together in this world, and we each need more than just ourselves to truly grow.
"There are other living beings that you share this place with," Pollan says. "Unless you respect what they need, you're not going to get what you want. That's a really important lesson. It's not 'I, me, mine' all the time."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Second Nature: A Gardener's Education is Pollan's latest book. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation is his latest book.