- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143114964
- ISBN-13: 978-0143114963
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,055 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto Paperback – April 28, 2009
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"Michael Pollan [is the] designated repository for the nation's food conscience."---Frank Bruni, The New York Times
"A remarkable volume . . . engrossing . . . [Pollan] offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave."--The Washington Post
"A tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be redced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential... [a] lively, invaluable book."--Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"In Defense of Food is written with Pollan's customary bite, ringing clarity and brilliance at connecting the dots."--The Seattle Times
About the Author
Michael Pollan, recently featured on Netflix in the four-part series Cooked, is the author of seven previous books, including Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.
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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.
The book helped me explore my interest in more traditional diets made up of pure/whole foods, leave behind food-like (and gimmicky) products in the stores, and switch to cooking & baking from scratch. After reading it, I was inspired to buy a grain mill for my kitchen so I could grind my own flour and truly bake from scratch using whole grain flour (and wrote a get-started guide to help others do the same). Being able to control what goes into my food has improved my health and energy. I can't recommend this book enough.
I also like the companion book "Food Rules" Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, which I'd recommend if you want a brief "just tell me what to do" book. But for more detailed information that may help you change your food and eating mindset, "In Defense of Food" is the way to go.
Pollan covers baby formula and how it's essentially an experiment (p.32). Techno-foods: "modern cornucopia of highly processed foodlike products." (p.14) Public confusion: "thirty years of nutritional advice have left us fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished." (p.81) This first section covers monocultures, the industrialized food model, distraction of the real message, and detachment from our food. Pollan seems to be driving home the message that any food that purports to have health benefits really ought to be avoided, that it's "a strong indication it's not really food." (p.2) Later he tells us quite simply to "watch out for those health claims." (p.40) This really got my mental juices flowing and made me consider the counter arguments to that.
The most impactful take-away as I finished was the idea that we really don't need books on what to eat. At one time, he tells us that nutritionism has done us no good, "At the behest of government panels, nutrition scientists, and public health officials, we have dramatically changed the way we eat and the way we think about food [...this] has done little for our health, except possibly to make it worse." (p.40) Gee, that is so inspiring. As a parent, I think I'd rather take this message, with a nice positive spin and which reinforces the message that we're smarter than we think we are, "most of what we need to know about how to eat we already know." (p.13)
He tells us that "seventeen thousand new food products" are presented to us every year (p.133) "Although an estimated 80 percent of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by a change of diet and exercise, it looks like the smart money is instead on the creation of a vast new diabetes industry." (p.136) "Medicine is learning how to keep alive the people whom the Western diet is making sick." (p.135) "Don't eat anything incapable of rotting." (p.149) "Ordinary food is still out there, however, still being grown and occasionally sold in the supermarket, and this ordinary food is what we should be eating." (p.147) Don't eat anything my great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. (p.148)
This book boils down to a lot of rules for better eating. Some of them, for me, are doable. Some of them are not. What I can adopt is a mesh of several of his uidelines... "eat meals" and "try not to eat alone" and "do all your eating at a table." My great grandmother would think it silly, though, if those were guidelines at all.