Michael Pollan, author of "Omnivore's Dilemma" and other popular books, has become a figurehead for the local-food movement, which advocates buying in-season produce from nearby farms.
Proponents say such food is healthier and that the way it is grown and shipped is better for the environment. But it often is more expensive. Mr. Pollan says the real problem is that subsidies keep the prices of some, largely mass-produced foods artificially low.
Still, he tries to strike a middle ground between advocate and realist. In his Berkeley living room, the 55-year-old Mr. Pollan discussed where he shops for food and why paying $8 for a dozen eggs is a good thing:
WSJ: Do Bay Area residents eat and shop for food differently from people elsewhere?
Mr. Pollan: The food movement really began on the West Coast, and you can make an argument it began in the Bay Area. There is a much higher level of consciousness here about where food comes from, about eating seasonally and locally, than there is in the rest of the country. But we have certain advantages that few other places in the country have. We can eat from the farmer's market 50 weeks of the year—the only reason they close is to get a break Christmas and New Year's.
WSJ: What do you attribute the greater enthusiasm to?
Mr. Pollan: A consumer who is willing to pay more for better food. That's a matter of consciousness and a palate that has been educated by the chefs locally. Paying $3.90 for a Frog Hollow Peach, there are a lot of people here willing to do it. I don't know if you can find a more expensive peach in America. My little rule, "Pay more, eat less," is followed by a lot of people in the Bay area.
WSJ: Where do you shop for food?
Mr. Pollan: I shop at the farmer's market on Thursdays. I shop at Monterey Market, and I shop at Berkley Bowl. Those are the big three, and then I'll get household cleaning products, cereal, things like that at Safeway.
WSJ: How do you suggest people in New York or other places with a long winter eat seasonally?
Mr. Pollan: In much of the country eating seasonally in winter is challenging, though there are options people overlook. A salad of grated root vegetables, for example, is a refreshing change from lettuce, and far more nutritious. But it all depends on how hard-core you want to be. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.
Read the rest of the Wall Street Journal's interview with Michael Pollan here.