Welcome to Clip from Spiral logo

Interactive video lesson plan for: BBQ of the Gods, with Michael Pollan

Activity overview:

Michael Pollan explains the lost cultural and spiritual importance of cooking and eating meat. Pollan is the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. His latest is Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (http://goo.gl/ct3B0V).

Don't miss new Big Think videos! Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5

Transcript: Carolina barbecue is a really kind of ancient primal way of preparing food where you essentially are taking a whole animal and you are cooking it very slowly over a wood fire. The recipe couldn't not be more simple. It is pig plus wood fire plus time and a little salt. It's as close as we get to that primal scene of our proto human ancestors two million years ago roasting the big animal over a fire which is a wonderfully communal event because it requires a lot of cooperation, somebody's got to stay up with the fire and not let it go out. Someone has to prepare the animal to be cooked. Someone has to carve it and divide up the portions. And pitmasters today stand in for the, you know, this lineage that goes back probably a couple million years and passes along the way through the priests and Greek culture who oversaw the rights, the ritual sacrifice or the Rabis in the old testament who also did ritual sacrifice.

There was for a very long time the priests, the butchers and the cooks were the same person. That was a very prestigious job. There were a lot of rules that went with it because it was so momentous. I mean meat was very special, it was sacred. And you had to deal with the Gods and we started by actually burning meat to a crisp as an offering to the Gods. And then somebody figured out, you know, they don't really eat meat probably. They really just want the smoke. And so we gave them the smoke and that was the way, you know, how else do you get it up to heaven. And then we got to eat the meat. And -- but we continued to have that religious overlay. And the word in Greek for priest and butcher and cook is the same, mageiros. And the word magic is buried in that word, the origins for the word magic because it was magic. It was transformation of this carcass, dead animal into this food fit for the Gods.

You know, one of the most striking things about modern life is that we eat meat without giving it a thought. We eat meat without realizing what is at stake. The fact that an animal has died, that an awful amount of effort is taken, there's the sacrifice of the animal, there's the effort of raising it or killing it if you're hunting it. And we eat it without ceremony. We have meat two, three times a day in this country without giving it a thought. It's just shrink wrapped protoplasm from the supermarket or the restaurant. But for most of history you realize eating meat was a profound almost sacramental occasion. People understood the sacrifice involved. They understood that an animal had died because they had probably participated in that process. And they also understood how precious this stuff was. It was delicious. It was nutritious. You didn't have it every day. You had to work really hard to get it. And so we surrounded meat eating with a great deal of ceremony and somberness and rules.

You know the proper accompaniment for meat in world history if you look at it appears to be rules whether they're the kosher rules that you eat this meat and not that or you eat this part of this animal and not that part or you don't have meat with this or that. Halal rules also govern meat -- what can and cannot be eaten. But then you have the rules of barbecue. In some parts of the South barbecue is whole hog with just vinegar and salt and, you know, a little pepper. But you move to the other side of the same state and they have a ketchup based sauce and they cook pork shoulders. And then you move to South Carolina and they're barbecuing pork shoulders and they're using a mustard based sauce. And then you go to Tennessee and they're eating ribs. And you go to Texas and they're eating brisket. They're eating beef. Every one of those traditions has deep roots and every one of those traditions looks down on every other tradition. That's fine but it's not barbecue.

So rulemaking seems to surround meat eating. And I think that that's a reflection of how much was at stake for people and how wonderful it was for people. And we have lost that. We eat meat in this incredibly thoughtless, cavalier way. We waste it. We don't give a thought to the animal. We don't give a thought to the person who raised it or hunted it. And I think in the process we've lost something. And that carelessness, it now infects the way we raise the meat. That we treat the animals really badly and we don't honor it the way we need to honor it.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton

Tagged under: Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU,Barbecue (Cuisine),History,Michael Pollan (Author),Meat,BBQ,cooking,fire,sacrifice,Gods,Tradition,waste,meat production,farming,livestock,Agriculture (Professional Field),Memorial Day,South Carolina,Jonathan Fowler,The Omnivore' Dilemma: A Natural History Of Four Meals (Book),Diet,Religion

Clip makes it super easy to turn any public video into a formative assessment activity in your classroom.

Add multiple choice quizzes, questions and browse hundreds of approved, video lesson ideas for Clip

Make YouTube one of your teaching aids - Works perfectly with lesson micro-teaching plans

Play this activity

1. Students enter a simple code

2. You play the video

3. The students comment

4. You review and reflect

* Whiteboard required for teacher-paced activities

Share on:

Share BBQ of the Gods, with Michael Pollan on Google+ Share BBQ of the Gods, with Michael Pollan on Twitter Share BBQ of the Gods, with Michael Pollan on Facebook Pin BBQ of the Gods, with Michael Pollan Email BBQ of the Gods, with Michael Pollan

Ready to see what else Spiral logo can do?

With four apps, each designed around existing classroom activities, Spiral gives you the power to do formative assessment with anything you teach.


Carry out a quickfire formative assessment to see what the whole class is thinking


Create interactive presentations to spark creativity in class

Team Up

Student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices


Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes

1000s of teachers use Spiral to deliver awesome, engaging activities that capture students' understanding during lessons.

Now it's your turn Sign up

Spiral Reviews by Teachers and Digital Learning Coaches

Review of Spiral by teacher: Kathryn Laster @kklaster

Tried out the canvas response option on @SpiralEducation & it's so awesome! Add text or drawings AND annotate an image! #R10tech

Review of Spiral by teacher: Room 220 Math Stars @3rdgradeBCE

Using @SpiralEducation in class for math review. Student approved! Thumbs up! Thanks.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Miss Ord @ordmiss

Absolutely amazing collaboration from year 10 today. 100% engagement and constant smiles from all #lovetsla #spiral

Review of Spiral by teacher: Adam J. Stryker @strykerstennis

Students show better Interpersonal Writing skills than Speaking via @SpiralEducation Great #data #langchat folks!

Review of Spiral by teacher: Dr Ayla Göl @iladylayla

A good tool for supporting active #learning.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Brett Erenberg @BrettErenberg

The Team Up app is unlike anything I have ever seen. You left NOTHING out! So impressed!

Get the Clip Chrome Extension & Create Video Lessons in Seconds

Add Clip to Chrome