In an interview with CBC radio, Michael Pollan talks about an addiction he shares with 80 percent of the world’s population – drinking caffeine. Well-known for his books on food – including The Omnivores Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Cooked, all of which we highly recommend – Pollan describes how he quit drinking coffee and tea cold turkey for three months.

“If you have any doubt whether you’re addicted to coffee or tea, try getting off it,” Pollan remarks. The word addiction has moral connotations, implying that we’re bad if we drink caffeine; but in a non-judgmental way, Pollan eloquently describes both the negative and positive effects of the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world.

The positive effects include better learning and memory, and increased physical and mental performance in general. “It’s no accident that employers started giving people coffee breaks,” Pollan notes about the introduction of caffeine into the western world.

The cost of caffeine consumption is that it cuts into the quality of your sleep. “If you have poor sleep, that in turn is correlated with everything from early dementia to heart disease.”

Pollan quit caffeine while he was writing his newest book, Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World, in which he unravels the fascinating history of caffeine and our complicated relationship with it.

What role does caffeine play in your food story?


You can listen to Michael Pollan’s CBC interview here.

For more information on Michael Pollan, visit