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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto Paperback – April 28, 2009
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Amazon Significant Seven, January 2008: Food is the one thing that Americans hate to love and, as it turns out, love to hate. What we want to eat has been ousted by the notion of what we should eat, and it's at this nexus of hunger and hang-up that Michael Pollan poses his most salient question: where is the food in our food? What follows in In Defense of Food is a series of wonderfully clear and thoughtful answers that help us omnivores navigate the nutritional minefield that's come to typify our food culture. Many processed foods vie for a spot in our grocery baskets, claiming to lower cholesterol, weight, glucose levels, you name it. Yet Pollan shows that these convenient "healthy" alternatives to whole foods are appallingly inconvenient: our health has a nation has only deteriorated since we started exiling carbs, fats--even fruits--from our daily meals. His razor-sharp analysis of the American diet (as well as its architects and its detractors) offers an inspiring glimpse of what it would be like if we could (a la Humpty Dumpty) put our food back together again and reconsider what it means to eat well. In a season filled with rallying cries to lose weight and be healthy, Pollan's call to action"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."--is a program I actually want to follow. --Anne Bartholomew
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In his hugely influential treatise The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan traced a direct line between the industrialization of our food supply and the degradation of the environment. His new book takes up where the previous work left off. Examining the question of what to eat from the perspective of health, this powerfully argued, thoroughly researched and elegant manifesto cuts straight to the chase with a maxim that is deceptively simple: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. But as Pollan explains, food in a country that is driven by a thirty-two billion-dollar marketing machine is both a loaded term and, in its purest sense, a holy grail. The first section of his three-part essay refutes the authority of the diet bullies, pointing up the confluence of interests among manufacturers of processed foods, marketers and nutritional scientists—a cabal whose nutritional advice has given rise to a notably unhealthy preoccupation with nutrition and diet and the idea of eating healthily. The second portion vivisects the Western diet, questioning, among other sacred cows, the idea that dietary fat leads to chronic illness. A writer of great subtlety, Pollan doesn't preach to the choir; in fact, rarely does he preach at all, preferring to lets the facts speak for themselves. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Five weeks eating 3 meals a day...and by week two much of the chronic 24 hour a day pain was gone and I began walking the elliptical and the woods. Five weeks and 30 pounds lighter....with more energy than I've had in 20 years. Buy this book, learn it, live it, tell your loved ones.
There you have it. That is the book for you in seven short words. The author even admits it on the first page!
There is more detail for those interested. The author gives some more practical dieting advice like: eat more folic acid, take Omega 3 supplements, eat fish at least twice a week. However, a substantial part of the book is devoted to describing all sorts of corporate spawned nutrition crazes that have not served public health well, and have basically made the Western diet a global laughing stock. Being that my mom was an agricultural engineer turned nutritionist, none of this was really news to me.
But hey I get it, the man has a book to sell and it probably serves him and his publisher to water down the content for the sake of more pages. The reason for the three stars, is more so for the constant derailing of corporations in this book. The guy definitely has a leftish bent and his biases spill into what should be a book free of political prejudice.
Corporates don't force anyone to chow down on Oscor Meyer sausages and Big Gulp drinks. They simply sell the option and the people willfully choose to do so. Salad has been around since the dawn of time, it's cheap, anyone can afford to eat it, but people make the choice not to. Unfortunately, you cannot democratically protect people from their own ignorance. If you could, most of our social problems would go away.
The true reason for mass obesity in this country has more to do with structural changes with the way people live their life. We went from working on farms to corporate cubicles and service orientated jobs. This change happened in what, a measly 150 years? Which on an anthropological time scale is nothing. The reason why we are fat is because our bodies are unaccustomed to living in the present reality. We eat fast food, come back from some job which requires minimal physical activity, chow down on some microwavable food, and then spend the rest of the day watching television. I believe the author tries to make this point, he cites Australian aborigines as an example, however he does not make it clearly enough and as mentioned previously, he has plenty of space to do so.
The actual nutritional advice in this book is great. I decided to take up Pollan's advice along with giving up sugar as a Lent penance and can proudly say that I lost around 10 pounds (190 to 180, Male). It is great advice, just very hard to follow!
Simply put, I do not care for "man-made" substances. I cannot tolerate man-made sweetners and even prescription drugs bother me. After reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Food, Miracle," I am shocked to realize that even though I am trying to eat more plants ... there aren't that many varieties of brocoli in the grocery store ... just one that produces great yield but not nearly enough nutrients. I knew about the soil leaching all the nutrients out, which is why farmers of old used to rotate their crops, but I didn't realize that plants do the same thing as well. Interesting.
This book is not an in-depth book on food like I had hoped for, but it is a great introduction on thought-provoking theories about the history of our eating habits in the last century. Personally, I feel a sense of relief that I am not the only one struggling with how to read a label these days ... I do get confused as to which is the "bad fat, good fat" and etc. Goodness knows, in this household, we love Oreo cookies and we know that it's not good for us ... but we love it anyways. But we don't gorge on it ... we try to supplement it with other good foods. Anyhow, that's not the point of Pollan's book. His point is, we need to change our way of thinking ... not just our eating habits, but the way we approach food. For some odd reason, Americans seem to think that eating is not pleasurable. And for some reason, no matter how much people diet, they still seem to get sicker every time.
This book presents interesting concepts and theories which are rather different from other "food" books that are out on the market. For me personally, this book has got me to look at my pantry a bit differently and trying to figure out how much more I can get away from processed food ... which I am already on the path of doing, and changing our eating habits to benefit the earth as well as for ourselves. There is an increased risk to heart disease and diabetes and the links are increasingly pointing to our eating habits. This book points a light at why it might be that way even if we're trying to eat better and healthier. There is a lot more to just eating ... there's food preparation, family get-togethers and more.
Definitely a book worth reading. It is definitely a stepping stone to exploring more options of finding out what our diet needs more of and a challenge to our way of thinking as well.