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Customer Review

1,278 of 1,307 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is necessary..., December 29, 2009
This review is from: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (Paperback)
It is amazing how complicated we have allowed our diets, and our understanding of our diets, to become. Even Pollan's most recent book In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto - which seemed to be a pretty simple premise - ended up being a (wonderfully) complicated journey through our food system. So when I read that this book was coming out, I wondered if it was necessary given the wealth of information already covered. The answer is: yes, this book is necessary.

While there are a million other guides to a healthy diet running around out there, few manage to boil down the essentials in such a usable way. Pollan takes the essential and fascinating information that he wrote about in his previous book and simmers it down into a succinct (the book is basically 70 half pages long) "manual" of rules for eating. While this book retains some of the bones of its predecessor, it is by no means a Cliff's Notes version. This manual is essential reading all on its own.

Food Rules is broken down into 3 sections (and this will sound familiar to those that read In Defense of Food): 1- What should I eat? (Eat food) 2 - What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants) and 3 - How should I eat? (Not too much). Each section includes 20 or so rules that you can pick and choose from in order to eat a healthy diet. Some of the rules overlap (Avoid food products that contain ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce and Avoid ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry, for instance) and some seem like such common sense that it is almost laughable to include them, but that is why this manual is so important. It distills all of this complex information that we see and hear every day and turns it into something relatable. We know, somewhere in our minds, that certain grains and oils are better than others. Pollan gives us an easy rule to help know which ones are best. We know that most breakfast cereals are little more than desserts and Pollan gives us an easy rule to know which ones are safe. Some rules are humorous (it's not food if it arrived through the window of your car) and some are serious; some rules are easy and others require a bit more dedication. But what this manual has is a wide range of useful tips that can be applied to any life at any time. This is no complicated diet; this is a little pocket book of sensible, realistic rules to help you eat your best.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 10, 2010 10:52:55 PM PST
Thanks Kristine - excellent and informative review...I'm buying it!

Posted on Jan 18, 2010 7:56:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2010 7:57:09 AM PST
Terri says:
Thanks Kristine, I, also, am buying this book! I have the Omnivore's Delimma in both versions, have seen the video, "Food Inc." read "Slaughterhouse" by Gail Eisnitz and now am afraid to eat. I don't like that we now have 'factory farming' and that we need to pay more for 'real' now called 'organic' food. I am a child of the '50s and '60s who knows what 'real' food was! I'm still here but am wondering how I can avoid eating anything containing some form of corn?

Posted on Jan 19, 2010 9:45:27 PM PST
Steph. says:
Your last sentence summed up the worth of the book, "this is a little pocket book of sensible, realistic rules to help you eat your best." I think some of the other reviewers that weren't the biggest fans of Michael Pollens work this time around, are coming from a different angle than you. I would like to say this:

1) this book isn't a novel of any sort; it is a set of rules like Kristine says
2) it *is* a watered-down version of his other books, but some people need that (either as a loose summary of some of his general points, or as an intro to M. Pollen)
3) it's an inexpensive little list to carry around with you...and its content really does mean something
4) it's a funny book! Kristine made some references...they're fun to read - the book is light and you can get through it in an hour
5) think of it as cliff's notes...sometimes after reading information-packed books, cliff's notes are a good review of some of the points...think of this as just that: a review what you should have learned from some of Pollen's work thus far

In summary, I want to agree with people that this book is not at the same caliber or in the same style as Pollen's previous literature, but it's unfair to compare it to those types of works because that's not what it was meant to be. If you don't buy this with expectations of being like his other books, then you might actually like the book. Accept that some pages only have 30 words and learn from it. Reference it occasionally when you crave some french fries or individually-packaged icing filled spongy cakes that have 6 month shelf lives. Happy reading folks.

Posted on Feb 12, 2010 1:24:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 22, 2010 12:32:54 PM PST
An excellent and informative review indeed!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2010 2:55:30 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 14, 2010 5:05:44 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2010 9:43:13 AM PST
Excellent point - this book shouldn't be compared to Pollan's other work because it isn't meant to be. This book is a light guide and taken as such it is a wonderful little read. Thank you for the comments.

Posted on Feb 26, 2010 6:53:39 PM PST
Obadiah says:
The other reviews I read were discouraging, but this one encouraged me that it is useful and streamlined, something that I appreciate in an informational book like this one.

Posted on Feb 26, 2010 6:53:42 PM PST
Obadiah says:
The other reviews I read were discouraging, but this one encouraged me that it is useful and streamlined, something that I appreciate in an informational book like this one.

Posted on Feb 28, 2010 1:52:11 PM PST
Edward F. says:
This book is necessary, yes, but at $11, it is WAY overpriced. Read it over coffee in a cafe/bookstore. Don't shell out all that cash for such a little bit of information.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2010 2:54:23 PM PDT
Lee says:
To "a reader:"
I am unsure why you make reference to an $11 price when you have posted your comment on Amazon, and the Amazon fee for this book is $5.
Consequently, it's astonishing that three readers (prior to this comment) indicated that your comment adds to the discussion.
A "handy reference" to access for wise food choices seems a bargain at five dollars--even if one IS already familiar with Pollan's perspectives.
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