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It’s hard to argue with food writer Michael Pollan’s most famous directive: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Those first seven words of a 2007 New York Times Magazine essay helped make Pollan America’s leading culinary intellectual. The instructions were to be a simple answer to the complicated question of what to eat. But in the years since, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food has become omnipresent, helping contribute to an increasingly baroque national food conversation—one that has made the morals, politics, and aesthetics of dining even more fraught than the old question of what’s good for you. Just as today’s historians learn about the ’50s by examining ads for TV dinners, future scholars may understand our own era by looking not just at what we eat but at how we’ve come to talk so damn much about it. In the meantime, I’m ready to propose my own theory about how to consume food theories: Read words. Not too many. Mostly recipes.

Pollan speaks at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. $35-60. (301) 581-5100.