Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: In Defense of Food

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Seems like simple enough advice from Michael Pollan in his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. These words can help us consider what to eat, what not to eat, and how to think about health.

Pollan argues that humans used to know how to eat well, but the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists and journalists — all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible foodlike substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals.

Although I found this book very fascinating, I thought Pollan repeated himself a lot and I wished he would have given more specific advice about day-to-day eating, rather than vague generalizations. However, I learned quite a bit of new information about organic foods that I plan to apply to our diets in the future, and I thought his advice, "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food," was extremely relevant. I plan to try to keep that in mind the next time I go to the grocery store.


  1. I've heard a lot about this book, but haven't read it yet. Good advice about the great-great-grandmother thing! I've always heard that you should, for the most part, shop the perimeter of the grocery store. I try to follow that rule when I go, but sometimes I have to make a detour for the Doritos. Nobody's perfect! :)

  2. I was a big fan of this book too! Ever since I read that book I've found myself looking at the ingredient list of foods.

  3. Oh yeah, that was another good tip he had... if it has more than 5 ingredients, or if you don't recognize one or more of the ingredients, don't eat it.


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