In Defense of Food An Eater's Manifesto Author:Michael Pollan What to eat, what not to eat, and how to think about health: a manifesto for our times. — 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 — Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion - most of what we're consuming today is no longer... more » the product of nature but of food science. The results is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem 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.« less
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Pollan's got some sound advice in this book. He tries to keep it simple.
But this is not a 'diet" book, It's more a thorough investigation of where the Western world (specifically America) went wrong in our relationship with food, ceding all control of our dinner table to 'experts' and no longer seeing "food" as an idea and cultural experience... but only as fuel... and through the misguided lens of "nutrition."
The first half of the book examines and breaks down the series of cultural moves (politically and capitalistically) that since the 1970s have separated us from our close relationship with "food."
Basically, we no longer see an apple - we see vitamins, calories and nutrients.
We see fat, sugar and antioxidants.
What we eat is no longer in the hands of "Mom" and "Family Tradition" - it's in the hands of Nutrition scientists and the large food conglomerations.
Pollan makes some good points around his "eat food, mostly plants, not too much" theme. I learned a lot about the history of the business of food in America, and how most of our food is crap as a result. It gets a bit too technical at times, but if you are into the local/whole food movement you will get plenty out of this book.
I devoured this book; it is amazing. It's full of all the "common sense" stuff you already know, deep down in your mind, yet don't really think about. It's terrifying and appalling and fascinating to read at the same time. At one point, I started to get panicky about what I could do IMMEDIATELY. Predictably, I feel duped and manipulated by the food industry. I've wanted to grow my own food for a while, but reading this solidified that idea in my head.
Pollan touches on many important issues and introduces ideas I hadn't thought about, including pesticides, food ingredients, and HOW we eat. I loved the discussion of the French Paradox near the end and find myself incorporating a lot of French eating customs into my own meals.
I've always eaten "healthy," with few processed foods, but this made me question the nutrition of the whole foods I purchase. It made me see "nutritionism" in an entirely new light, too. If you love food or even if you have a shaky relationship with it, read this. At the very least, you'll be enlightened on the subject of nutrition. You will naturally change your behavior with this knowledge in your head.