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#1 New York Times Bestseller

Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?

Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion--most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see to become. With In Defense of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

"Michael Pollan [is the] designated repository for the nation's food conscience."
-Frank Bruni, The New York Times

" A remarkable volume . . . engrossing . . . [Pollan] offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave."
-The Washington Post

"A tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be redced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential... [a] lively, invaluable book."
--Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"In Defense of Food is written with Pollan's customary bite, ringing clarity and brilliance at connecting the dots."
-The Seattle Times


Michael Pollan’s newest book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education--was published by The Penguin Press in April 2013.
Published: Penguin Group on
ISBN: 9781101147382
List price: $12.99
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where [book: fast food nation] was brilliant book, but a "downer" this one's an "upper," so to speak ... or a healthy antidote to [author: eric schlosser] lightningrod. that both are also so well-written make them all the more indispensable food for thought. [pun intended, sorry]

more
The now well-known catch phrase "eat food. mostly plants. not too much" doesn't really sum up this book, which also examines the history of nutrition science and the growth of "nutritionism", the focus on constituents of diet rather than a holistic study of diets. Pollan's previous book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma", changed the way I buy food; this book is changing not only my shopping habits but also the ways I prepare and eat food.more
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." This first sentence says it all. Pollan follows the trail of the impact of science, the government, the nutritionists and even the journalists like himself that have created the Western diet and its detrimental effect on our health. It should send us all to out cupboards to purge and to the market for all that is fresh!more
Pollan's done it again. This book takes up where he left off with The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan here discourses learnedly on nutrition and how the Western diet has tried (and ostensibly failed) to separate food from nutrition. The food industry is so seductive, so stealthy that many of us never noticed when we stopped eating food and began eating food-like nutritive products. Pollan lays the blame of our current diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity epidemics squarely on this shift. I can't find any reason to disagree with him. The book ends with a list of recommendations which Pollan sums up thus: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Highly recommended, but read The Omnivore's Dilemma first.more
I absolutely loved this book mostly for it's eye-opening descriptions of how Western food has come to be. It has inspired me to change my eating ways and excites me for the coming of the farmer's market.

Lists many great resources for eating good food.

Also, very interesting because it was my introduction to food politics. A great reminder of just how much goes unseen.
more
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That's Michael Pollan's mantra, although the last third of the book expands his list of rules significantly. It makes a lot of sense to me. The first part of the book is a history of "nutritionism," which he defines, roughly, as the reduction of a food to its component parts (as in protein, fat, carbs, vitamins). He believes that nutritionism is a bad thing, given the number of unknown factors that can make a food "good" or "bad." An example would be how many people in my age group grew up believing that margarine was healthier than butter; now that we know about trans fats, butter is less demonized. I do feel that Pollan's "rules" are a lot easier to follow for me than they would be for my daughter, who lives alone, has two jobs and full-time college, and not much money. But they are worth reading about just the same.more
Manifesto on eating sustainable, local, organic, economically fair food in modern America.more
Ok, reading back through my review, it's really kind of harsh. But I'm going to leave it because it was my initial reaction upon reading the book, and I was greatly annoyed by much of the content. I do get his point, I just think he shouldn't have couched his opinions about food manufacturing in bits of so-called "food wisdom" and just left it at the expose, journalistic (and biased) level he used in Omnivore's Dilemma; to me, that would have seemed more honest and reliable than this.
_______

To start with, I cannot believe my company made the deliberate choice to not only publish this book, but to distribute a copy to each employee in North America. Why? This person is a journalist--not a nutritionist. This thing is full of opinions and, quite frankly, I would be horrified if someone actually seriously used this book as a guide. Yes, the argument can be made that at least it's not a celebrity diet book, but it really has the same weight to it. Actually, worse, because I think most celebrities write their books with the input of a nutritionist of some sort. At the very least, I would think there would have been some consultation of the nutrition textbooks that the company also publishes before this had been sent to the printer.

One of his bits of sage advice--avoid foods with low-fat in their names. Um, hello? Low-fat milk? Please leave the blanket rules and personal opinions about what to eat to people who actually know what they're talking about.

"Indispensible handbook"? I don't think so.more
We're all being taken over by packaged, processed food, and even real food is less healthy now than it was a few generations ago. Take-away message: we're all screwed.

Interesting information and great to raise awareness, but maybe a little one-note for an engaging town-wide read.more
This book is probably one of the most significant books I have read all year. I would even go so far as to say that I think it should be required reading! (Sorry for the cliche)On one hand this book scared the crap out of me but it offered enough insight on how we should be eating to bring peace of mind that I now know more about what I am eating and how to navigate the grocery store. I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil what the book is about but trust me, everyone should read this book!more
This book is no more than a lengthened magazine article. It lacks depth, and moreover, passion. The book lacks the investigative journalism of his previous Omnivore's Dilemma, and falls down in interpretation of science. He criticizes Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories), but without conviction. This pamphlet may have some merit, but Pollan lost credibility when he failed to acknowledge that lactose intolerance is a scientific invention. Unpasteurized milk has plenty of lactase which make lactose digestible. Our country's insistence on processes that ostensibly protect our food supply by destroying essential enzymes and nutrients is completely ignored.more
At times it was a bit bombastic -- and throughout it was pretty unscientific -- but I really enjoyed the no-nonsense, pragmatic arguments put forth and the bite-size (sue me) pieces of advice.more
It seems as humans, our natural tendency is to break down the complex into the simple as a way of understanding what makes it tick. While this obsession has assisted our advancement in the sciences and humanities, on the subject of food, it may have actually harmed us.In Defense of Food strives to teach us that the benefits of food may not be in the individual components but in the food as a whole. With people's health in mind (or maybe not, if they were hired by food industrialists), nutritionists have all but removed food from the table and replaced it with potentially disease-causing vitamins and minerals. Michael Pollan illustrates the downward spiral of food destruction, reconstruction, and lends the willing-to-learn rules to return to eating well.A common sense (if you've ever stopped to think about it) and quick read book.more
Food has changed over the last few decades –what we consider food, the science we have utilized to make more food-like substances, or how we as a culture view food. Michael Pollan investigates how food has changed. He is particularly interested in illuminating the American Western diet and how the changes that have taken place are impacting our health and culture. After discussing the shifting view of food and how food has been transformed into scientific creations, he offers some rules for removing oneself from the Western diet and reaping the healthier more satisfying life from it. Pollan does a great job highlighting the issues with the Western diet and how it has possibly created the health concerns that are so rampant in America. The rules he offers are simple and pretty self explanatory. In a time when our society is so obsessed with food and nutrition it is refreshing to finally have someone defend food.more
Michael Pollan takes on a serious subject and does so with considerable wit. He gets a bit bogged down in terminology, but that aside, I think everybody should read this book. I've read several books on similar subjects, and all have guided me in some way towards a diet free of supermarket products which masquerade as food. I like his concept of the food chain, which he describes very clearly, beginning with overuse of pesticides and artificial fertilisers which deplete the plants, which in turn deplete the animals they eat, which in turn damage the people who eat both plants and animals.As a vegetarian, this book reinforces my commitment to a meat-free diet. As a resident of planet earth, it makes me fear for the future of every living thing.more
When people ask the most influention books I have read, I hope that this is on my list. I think that the ideas in this book can change the way we look at food. I hope that I can actually do it. There is nothing new in this book. It is not a diet book. It doesn't say eat this, don't eat that. The whole book is summed up on the cover; "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants". The basic rules aren't nutrient driven; they are food driven. This book has given me ideas of how to (try) to get away from "food products" and actually eat food. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.more
Some good points but a deeply flawed book. While spending the first half of the book excoriating 'nutritionism' Pollan then goes onto employ much of the same logic and methodologies in his recommendations. Also a very unbalanced book, nutritionism is responsible for positive things like iodized salt but no one offering a defensive of nutritionism can be found in this book.more
I am a skeptic regarding health claims or the latest food trends. For some reason I'm willing to read and listen to Pollan's writings. I find him honest, fair, and willing to "debunk" the latest food trends - something I greatly appreciate. Over the past 5 years I've been slowly making changes to my family's eating habits. Pollan's books "close the deal" on making changes. I find myself rightfully distraught over our food system and greatly concerned we will one day no longer have "real food" available to those of us not yet gardening. I recommend very few books, but this one I would do a bit of "proselytizing" over.more
The author says, "Eat food, not too much and mostly plants" and offers a quick shortcut to healthy eating, suggesting that you shouldn't eat anything that your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.Following the Great Grandmother rule blanks out a lot of options (and removes most of the profitability of the agro-food processing industry) but he shows that it is still just viable if a shopper frequents farmers markets or avoids the packaged goods in the central aisles of supermarkets.He also interestingly shows how the food industry plays food science marketing with features such as "added fibre", "added omega3" etc. while ignoring the more beneficial natural sources.more
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." This is the takeaway message, Michael Pollan delivers to each of us in "In Defense of Food". This is such an important book and enlightens you as to where our food comes from and what impact this has on our daily lives.more
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." This is the takeaway message, Michael Pollan delivers to each of us in "In Defense of Food". This is such an important book for so many reasons. First, Pollan accutely describes how the very agencies which are designed to protect our food, are actually in the business of making food less nutritious and less beneficial for us. With agro-businesses heading up food production in the United States and foods being imported from other countries, it is essential that we understand the impact this is having upon our health. Even if you're unwilling to change how you eat or how you think about food, give this book a chance and enlighten yourselves as to where our food comes from and what impact this has on our daily lives.more
An absolutely fantastic book on the current state of food and eating in America. Pollan explains it all clearly, keeping the reader engaged in what could easily be a dry and unapproachable topic. Like Fast Food Nation and The Jungle before it, In Defense of Food will hopefully change the way Westerners approach food. A must read for anyone who eats, period.more
This book changed my perspective on my own food habits and on America's food culture. For instance, I knew that eating locally produced foods was the right choice ethically, but did not really understand why local foods often taste superior to conventionally produced and shipped foods, and seem to make me feel better physically. Pollan points out that this is because local foods are generally less processed, are often fresher, and its producers are more often primarily quality-driven families rather than purely profit-driven corporations. For a compressed version of Michael Pollan's food wisdom, check out Food Rules. It's small enough to fit in your glovebox or purse!more
I was looking forward to reading Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, since his plain-spoken eating philosophy (in the unlikely event that you haven't heard it, it's "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.") is pretty close to my own. The first half of the book, which presented background information on our cultural eating habits, lived up to my expectations. Well-written and likewise well-researched, Pollan's exploration into the Western diet should be sufficiently convincing to anyone who has thought critically about their eating habits.The second section, in which Pollan sets down his "eater's manifesto," was surprisingly thin, though. Pollan implies several times that he prefers a vegetarian diet, but he never quite argues this sufficiently. Likewise, his admonishments to "eat food . . . not too much" seem somewhat divorced from our dieter's culture and the strange, strained relationship that advertising and the media has with food. Having read the similarly themed, but meatier (hah!) The Obesity Myth several years ago, I couldn't help but wish for a deeper exploration or at least acknowledgment of sociological factors that make eating food, and not too much of it, difficult for many people. Pollan simply says that it's a "shame" that not everyone can afford or has access to pasture-fed beef and copious veggies; the reality is much worse than that, though it may be difficult for Pollan, unarguably a member of the upper-class intellectual elite, to see past his own cultural blinders to acknowledge it. I think the biggest problem here is that Pollan can only be preaching to the choir: those who are similarly privileged (and I can't deny that I am) will nod knowingly at his references to his CSA box; but those who could actually reap the most benefits from the changes he suggests will likely never encounter this book, and if they do, implementing the advice inside is likely to be, at best, impractical, and at worst impossible.more
heard him on NPR being interviewed about his Open Letter to the Next President. Replacing the White House Lawn with a garden, making food purchased with federal dollars have to come from locally, sustainably grown farming, determing the true value of food, lots of ideas here to learn more about some amazing, some humorous, some serious.more
This book changed the way I look at food, eating, and nutrition. Excellent and highly recommended!more
This is the follow-up to Pollan's excellent The Omnivore's Dilemma. In Defense of Food is about identifying real food, and adjusting your diet accordingly. By identifying food, Pollan isn't talking about the packaged goods lining your supermarket shelves and freezer cases. He's talking about more fundamental basics: fruits, vegetables, grass-fed beef: in other words, the kind of items our ancestors would have immediately recognized as food. And this, Pollan believes, is important because the more processed our diet is becoming, the less healthy we are as result. Incidents of Type-2 diabetes and heart disease in particular have been on a dramatic rise in recent decades and show no sign of abating. Paradoxically, over the same period, we have generally become even more obsessed with our health. The verdict? The things that food companies are pushing upon us as food (and, thanks to a strong lobby, with government encouragement and approval) are killing us.Pollan tells us why. The mystical world of vitamins and nutrition is still pretty much a mystery. Most vitamin supplements among the vast array found at the supermarket are worthless. The unique combination of chemicals and fiber that aid absorption when eating real food is lost when vitamins are isolated and introduced in other forms. While you might be ingesting a recommended quantity of, say, vitamin B-6, your body isn't using it, so in the end, you are still deficient even if though you've religiously taken your supplements. Additives in various kinds of processed food even go as far as to counteract the nutrition that might be contained in uncompromised ingredients. Pollan also brings up how some of the demonized foods: fats in particular, seem to have no detrimental effect in some cultures that have a culinary legacy, such as France, Italy and Greece. Among the things he preaches throughout is the need to eat less, and eat slower. Add to that, don't eat alone. And a glass or two of wine with meals isn't so bad either. Other advice is buy foods your ancestors would recognize as food. Don't buy anything with more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients you can't identify. I would have liked to see him include some sample meal plans like he did in The Omnivore's Dilemma -- not that it needed it for substance, but it would have nicely illustrated his points and give readers an exact point of reference to begin their journey into "real food."more
Read all 104 reviews

Reviews

where [book: fast food nation] was brilliant book, but a "downer" this one's an "upper," so to speak ... or a healthy antidote to [author: eric schlosser] lightningrod. that both are also so well-written make them all the more indispensable food for thought. [pun intended, sorry]

more
The now well-known catch phrase "eat food. mostly plants. not too much" doesn't really sum up this book, which also examines the history of nutrition science and the growth of "nutritionism", the focus on constituents of diet rather than a holistic study of diets. Pollan's previous book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma", changed the way I buy food; this book is changing not only my shopping habits but also the ways I prepare and eat food.more
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." This first sentence says it all. Pollan follows the trail of the impact of science, the government, the nutritionists and even the journalists like himself that have created the Western diet and its detrimental effect on our health. It should send us all to out cupboards to purge and to the market for all that is fresh!more
Pollan's done it again. This book takes up where he left off with The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan here discourses learnedly on nutrition and how the Western diet has tried (and ostensibly failed) to separate food from nutrition. The food industry is so seductive, so stealthy that many of us never noticed when we stopped eating food and began eating food-like nutritive products. Pollan lays the blame of our current diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity epidemics squarely on this shift. I can't find any reason to disagree with him. The book ends with a list of recommendations which Pollan sums up thus: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Highly recommended, but read The Omnivore's Dilemma first.more
I absolutely loved this book mostly for it's eye-opening descriptions of how Western food has come to be. It has inspired me to change my eating ways and excites me for the coming of the farmer's market.

Lists many great resources for eating good food.

Also, very interesting because it was my introduction to food politics. A great reminder of just how much goes unseen.
more
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That's Michael Pollan's mantra, although the last third of the book expands his list of rules significantly. It makes a lot of sense to me. The first part of the book is a history of "nutritionism," which he defines, roughly, as the reduction of a food to its component parts (as in protein, fat, carbs, vitamins). He believes that nutritionism is a bad thing, given the number of unknown factors that can make a food "good" or "bad." An example would be how many people in my age group grew up believing that margarine was healthier than butter; now that we know about trans fats, butter is less demonized. I do feel that Pollan's "rules" are a lot easier to follow for me than they would be for my daughter, who lives alone, has two jobs and full-time college, and not much money. But they are worth reading about just the same.more
Manifesto on eating sustainable, local, organic, economically fair food in modern America.more
Ok, reading back through my review, it's really kind of harsh. But I'm going to leave it because it was my initial reaction upon reading the book, and I was greatly annoyed by much of the content. I do get his point, I just think he shouldn't have couched his opinions about food manufacturing in bits of so-called "food wisdom" and just left it at the expose, journalistic (and biased) level he used in Omnivore's Dilemma; to me, that would have seemed more honest and reliable than this.
_______

To start with, I cannot believe my company made the deliberate choice to not only publish this book, but to distribute a copy to each employee in North America. Why? This person is a journalist--not a nutritionist. This thing is full of opinions and, quite frankly, I would be horrified if someone actually seriously used this book as a guide. Yes, the argument can be made that at least it's not a celebrity diet book, but it really has the same weight to it. Actually, worse, because I think most celebrities write their books with the input of a nutritionist of some sort. At the very least, I would think there would have been some consultation of the nutrition textbooks that the company also publishes before this had been sent to the printer.

One of his bits of sage advice--avoid foods with low-fat in their names. Um, hello? Low-fat milk? Please leave the blanket rules and personal opinions about what to eat to people who actually know what they're talking about.

"Indispensible handbook"? I don't think so.more
We're all being taken over by packaged, processed food, and even real food is less healthy now than it was a few generations ago. Take-away message: we're all screwed.

Interesting information and great to raise awareness, but maybe a little one-note for an engaging town-wide read.more
This book is probably one of the most significant books I have read all year. I would even go so far as to say that I think it should be required reading! (Sorry for the cliche)On one hand this book scared the crap out of me but it offered enough insight on how we should be eating to bring peace of mind that I now know more about what I am eating and how to navigate the grocery store. I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil what the book is about but trust me, everyone should read this book!more
This book is no more than a lengthened magazine article. It lacks depth, and moreover, passion. The book lacks the investigative journalism of his previous Omnivore's Dilemma, and falls down in interpretation of science. He criticizes Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories), but without conviction. This pamphlet may have some merit, but Pollan lost credibility when he failed to acknowledge that lactose intolerance is a scientific invention. Unpasteurized milk has plenty of lactase which make lactose digestible. Our country's insistence on processes that ostensibly protect our food supply by destroying essential enzymes and nutrients is completely ignored.more
At times it was a bit bombastic -- and throughout it was pretty unscientific -- but I really enjoyed the no-nonsense, pragmatic arguments put forth and the bite-size (sue me) pieces of advice.more
It seems as humans, our natural tendency is to break down the complex into the simple as a way of understanding what makes it tick. While this obsession has assisted our advancement in the sciences and humanities, on the subject of food, it may have actually harmed us.In Defense of Food strives to teach us that the benefits of food may not be in the individual components but in the food as a whole. With people's health in mind (or maybe not, if they were hired by food industrialists), nutritionists have all but removed food from the table and replaced it with potentially disease-causing vitamins and minerals. Michael Pollan illustrates the downward spiral of food destruction, reconstruction, and lends the willing-to-learn rules to return to eating well.A common sense (if you've ever stopped to think about it) and quick read book.more
Food has changed over the last few decades –what we consider food, the science we have utilized to make more food-like substances, or how we as a culture view food. Michael Pollan investigates how food has changed. He is particularly interested in illuminating the American Western diet and how the changes that have taken place are impacting our health and culture. After discussing the shifting view of food and how food has been transformed into scientific creations, he offers some rules for removing oneself from the Western diet and reaping the healthier more satisfying life from it. Pollan does a great job highlighting the issues with the Western diet and how it has possibly created the health concerns that are so rampant in America. The rules he offers are simple and pretty self explanatory. In a time when our society is so obsessed with food and nutrition it is refreshing to finally have someone defend food.more
Michael Pollan takes on a serious subject and does so with considerable wit. He gets a bit bogged down in terminology, but that aside, I think everybody should read this book. I've read several books on similar subjects, and all have guided me in some way towards a diet free of supermarket products which masquerade as food. I like his concept of the food chain, which he describes very clearly, beginning with overuse of pesticides and artificial fertilisers which deplete the plants, which in turn deplete the animals they eat, which in turn damage the people who eat both plants and animals.As a vegetarian, this book reinforces my commitment to a meat-free diet. As a resident of planet earth, it makes me fear for the future of every living thing.more
When people ask the most influention books I have read, I hope that this is on my list. I think that the ideas in this book can change the way we look at food. I hope that I can actually do it. There is nothing new in this book. It is not a diet book. It doesn't say eat this, don't eat that. The whole book is summed up on the cover; "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants". The basic rules aren't nutrient driven; they are food driven. This book has given me ideas of how to (try) to get away from "food products" and actually eat food. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.more
Some good points but a deeply flawed book. While spending the first half of the book excoriating 'nutritionism' Pollan then goes onto employ much of the same logic and methodologies in his recommendations. Also a very unbalanced book, nutritionism is responsible for positive things like iodized salt but no one offering a defensive of nutritionism can be found in this book.more
I am a skeptic regarding health claims or the latest food trends. For some reason I'm willing to read and listen to Pollan's writings. I find him honest, fair, and willing to "debunk" the latest food trends - something I greatly appreciate. Over the past 5 years I've been slowly making changes to my family's eating habits. Pollan's books "close the deal" on making changes. I find myself rightfully distraught over our food system and greatly concerned we will one day no longer have "real food" available to those of us not yet gardening. I recommend very few books, but this one I would do a bit of "proselytizing" over.more
The author says, "Eat food, not too much and mostly plants" and offers a quick shortcut to healthy eating, suggesting that you shouldn't eat anything that your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.Following the Great Grandmother rule blanks out a lot of options (and removes most of the profitability of the agro-food processing industry) but he shows that it is still just viable if a shopper frequents farmers markets or avoids the packaged goods in the central aisles of supermarkets.He also interestingly shows how the food industry plays food science marketing with features such as "added fibre", "added omega3" etc. while ignoring the more beneficial natural sources.more
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." This is the takeaway message, Michael Pollan delivers to each of us in "In Defense of Food". This is such an important book and enlightens you as to where our food comes from and what impact this has on our daily lives.more
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." This is the takeaway message, Michael Pollan delivers to each of us in "In Defense of Food". This is such an important book for so many reasons. First, Pollan accutely describes how the very agencies which are designed to protect our food, are actually in the business of making food less nutritious and less beneficial for us. With agro-businesses heading up food production in the United States and foods being imported from other countries, it is essential that we understand the impact this is having upon our health. Even if you're unwilling to change how you eat or how you think about food, give this book a chance and enlighten yourselves as to where our food comes from and what impact this has on our daily lives.more
An absolutely fantastic book on the current state of food and eating in America. Pollan explains it all clearly, keeping the reader engaged in what could easily be a dry and unapproachable topic. Like Fast Food Nation and The Jungle before it, In Defense of Food will hopefully change the way Westerners approach food. A must read for anyone who eats, period.more
This book changed my perspective on my own food habits and on America's food culture. For instance, I knew that eating locally produced foods was the right choice ethically, but did not really understand why local foods often taste superior to conventionally produced and shipped foods, and seem to make me feel better physically. Pollan points out that this is because local foods are generally less processed, are often fresher, and its producers are more often primarily quality-driven families rather than purely profit-driven corporations. For a compressed version of Michael Pollan's food wisdom, check out Food Rules. It's small enough to fit in your glovebox or purse!more
I was looking forward to reading Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, since his plain-spoken eating philosophy (in the unlikely event that you haven't heard it, it's "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.") is pretty close to my own. The first half of the book, which presented background information on our cultural eating habits, lived up to my expectations. Well-written and likewise well-researched, Pollan's exploration into the Western diet should be sufficiently convincing to anyone who has thought critically about their eating habits.The second section, in which Pollan sets down his "eater's manifesto," was surprisingly thin, though. Pollan implies several times that he prefers a vegetarian diet, but he never quite argues this sufficiently. Likewise, his admonishments to "eat food . . . not too much" seem somewhat divorced from our dieter's culture and the strange, strained relationship that advertising and the media has with food. Having read the similarly themed, but meatier (hah!) The Obesity Myth several years ago, I couldn't help but wish for a deeper exploration or at least acknowledgment of sociological factors that make eating food, and not too much of it, difficult for many people. Pollan simply says that it's a "shame" that not everyone can afford or has access to pasture-fed beef and copious veggies; the reality is much worse than that, though it may be difficult for Pollan, unarguably a member of the upper-class intellectual elite, to see past his own cultural blinders to acknowledge it. I think the biggest problem here is that Pollan can only be preaching to the choir: those who are similarly privileged (and I can't deny that I am) will nod knowingly at his references to his CSA box; but those who could actually reap the most benefits from the changes he suggests will likely never encounter this book, and if they do, implementing the advice inside is likely to be, at best, impractical, and at worst impossible.more
heard him on NPR being interviewed about his Open Letter to the Next President. Replacing the White House Lawn with a garden, making food purchased with federal dollars have to come from locally, sustainably grown farming, determing the true value of food, lots of ideas here to learn more about some amazing, some humorous, some serious.more
This book changed the way I look at food, eating, and nutrition. Excellent and highly recommended!more
This is the follow-up to Pollan's excellent The Omnivore's Dilemma. In Defense of Food is about identifying real food, and adjusting your diet accordingly. By identifying food, Pollan isn't talking about the packaged goods lining your supermarket shelves and freezer cases. He's talking about more fundamental basics: fruits, vegetables, grass-fed beef: in other words, the kind of items our ancestors would have immediately recognized as food. And this, Pollan believes, is important because the more processed our diet is becoming, the less healthy we are as result. Incidents of Type-2 diabetes and heart disease in particular have been on a dramatic rise in recent decades and show no sign of abating. Paradoxically, over the same period, we have generally become even more obsessed with our health. The verdict? The things that food companies are pushing upon us as food (and, thanks to a strong lobby, with government encouragement and approval) are killing us.Pollan tells us why. The mystical world of vitamins and nutrition is still pretty much a mystery. Most vitamin supplements among the vast array found at the supermarket are worthless. The unique combination of chemicals and fiber that aid absorption when eating real food is lost when vitamins are isolated and introduced in other forms. While you might be ingesting a recommended quantity of, say, vitamin B-6, your body isn't using it, so in the end, you are still deficient even if though you've religiously taken your supplements. Additives in various kinds of processed food even go as far as to counteract the nutrition that might be contained in uncompromised ingredients. Pollan also brings up how some of the demonized foods: fats in particular, seem to have no detrimental effect in some cultures that have a culinary legacy, such as France, Italy and Greece. Among the things he preaches throughout is the need to eat less, and eat slower. Add to that, don't eat alone. And a glass or two of wine with meals isn't so bad either. Other advice is buy foods your ancestors would recognize as food. Don't buy anything with more than 5 ingredients, or ingredients you can't identify. I would have liked to see him include some sample meal plans like he did in The Omnivore's Dilemma -- not that it needed it for substance, but it would have nicely illustrated his points and give readers an exact point of reference to begin their journey into "real food."more
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