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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
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Pollan provides another shocking yet essential treatise on the industrialized Western diet and its detrimental effects on our bodies and culture. Here he lays siege to the food industry and scientists' attempts to reduce food and the cultural practices of eating into bite-size concepts known as nutrients, and contemplates the follies of doing so. As an increasing number of Americans are overfed and undernourished, Pollan makes a strong argument for serious reconsideration of our eating habits and casts a suspicious eye on the food industry and its more pernicious and misleading practices. Listeners will undoubtedly find themselves reconsidering their own eating habits. Scott Brick, who narrated Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, carries forward the same tone and consistency, thus creating a narrative continuity between the two books. Brick renders the text with an expert's skill, delivering well-timed pauses and accurate emphasis. He executes Pollan's asides and sarcasm with an uncanny ability that makes listening infinitely better than reading. So compelling is his tone, listeners may have trouble discerning whether Brick's conviction or talent drives his powerful performance.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
Whether or not the contribution of the "big end of town" to the food supply is actually "cheaper" can only be measured if people take into account alternative sources for their food, and the health costs which ARE associated with the focus of manufacturers on carbohydrates, fats, sugars and salt.
It is self-evident that the current "obesity epidemic" is not the result of some contagion, some change in the environment, and can only be attributed to the invasion of the food production and distribution process by large corporations. This "plague" has hit the western world mostly in the past 40 years. The fallout has been a massive increase in diabetes, heart conditions, cancers and other health problems, ALL of which cost the consumer and the nation a substantial amount.
For individuals, there is generally no saving once those health costs are factored in. For the nation, there is the loss of personal exertion income and productivity, the damage to GDP and national tax revenues, the added cost of medical care for the population.
The book highlights many of the risks and dangers, and offers alternatives and solutions that anyone who is not already at the end of their lives should read and apply.
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.