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on February 22, 2016
I have a medical and science background...so traced references cited....everything checks out. Recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis at age 63 and weight 284 pounds. Read this book the first week of January.....went shopping for real foods the second week of January. Find it satisfying to eat no more than 4 oz of red meat 2-3 times a week....salmon, mackeral, sardines 2-3 times a week....and a couple of days with no meat...just veggie omega 3 sources. Have re-read the book....highlighted...added notes on all pages...and bought 2 more copies for my 30 and 21 year olds...both who grew up in the age of "nutritionism" with all its false information. Following Pollan's common sense advice....paying the extra for organic basic veggies and olive oil. Decided to eliminate all wheat and corn until I loose the weight I've set as a goal.
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.
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on July 26, 2012
If you've read other books on food, you'll find this to be written better but not containing much new information. It's as if Pollan took the other information out there and regurgitated it in a more digestible format. Which can be a good thing, if you consider the huge tomes out there that are difficult to read.

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.
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on September 1, 2012
I'm already inclined to eat healthy, eat organic and eat mostly vegetarian, so it's probably no surprise I liked this book. I learned a few new things about the whole industrial food complex and by the time I finished the book I did feel more motivated to do an even better job of watching my diet for a variety of reasons: 1. To improve my health, 2. To not contribute to a system that denies farm animals thte basics like space to breathe, sunshine and grass, 3. To improve the freshness, nutritional value and flavor of the foods I consume, and 4. To encourage sustainable farming practices that don't degradate the earth.

I also became more aware of the overwhelming number of "manufactured" foods on supermarket shelves that are really doing you no favors with their fructose corn syrup, preservatives and other junk.

What personally bothers me is how food-makers will continue using certain ingredients or packaging methods science has shown is harmful to human health until they are absolutely forced to change by consumer demand. Eg, BPA lining in canned foods was a battle consumers only partially won. Another example: Campbell's soups and other companies are vigorously fighting having to merely identify which foods are genetically modified. If they didn't think GM foods were harmful, why resist identifying them so strongly?

It is a shame how undiversified American farms are today, and the factory-like conditions that abuse animals. It's the kind of thing that most people don't focus on simply because it goes on, year after year, sight unseen. But it makes me even more determined to buy locally grown, organic foods straight from the farmer just a few miles down the road.
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on May 19, 2017
Great book! If you are at all interested in transforming how your family eats this is a great place to start. He gives a lot of background and helps build your knowledge base about why you should transform from the western diet. Would highly recommend this book!
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on February 20, 2013
This is a well researched book that covers the topic of what foods are actually nutritious for a person to eat.

It does not get heavily into different types of diets, or whether to eat meat or not.

Rather the author argues, that the practice of industrializing food production has created a lot of 'fake' or 'imitation' food that looks and tastes just like regular food but in few ways resembles the traditional foods that humans have been eating for thousands of year. Bread is an example he points out in the book.

Pollan spends about two thirds of the book debunking former ideas about what is supposedly healthy to eat (i.e. fats vs carbohydrates vs proteins, omega 3 acids vs omega 6 acids, etc.) and he also spends quite a bit of time discussing the history of nutritionist movement which basically has little understanding of what actually causes modern food related diseases such as heart disease / cancer / etc.

While much of this is interesting, if you've seen any food related documentaries recently (i.e. Forks over Knives) you may already be familiar with a lot of these ideas.

What I found most useful about the book was the last 60 pages or so, where he discusses some general rules of thumb as to what a person should actually eat.

While he doesn't get extremely specific, I found one piece of advice pretty useful - Don't eat what your great, great grandmother would not recognize as food, or as another scientist put it, don't eat what one of your neolithic ancestors would not recognize as food.

A lot of the more recent imitation foods that have been developed remove all of the best nutrients, and replace them with all sorts of non nutritious but tasty chemicals. yum.

A surprisingly short read. recommended.
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on October 9, 2017
This book was the beginning of a journey toward losing weight and eating more healthfully. If there's only one book to read, this is it. By following Mr. Pollan's advice of: Eat food, Mostly plants, Not too much, you will be assured of a much better way of eating and you'll save tons of money by not purchasing many other books on the subject (including mine).
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on April 6, 2016
Overall, I liked this book. And I have read many nutrition books. The basic premise is to enjoy your food and as the front cover says, "Eat real food, Not too much, Mostly plants". I don't think anyone can go wrong with that kind of advice. Of course nutrition can get more complicated than that at times and each person needs an individual plan that works for them. But overall, I think it is a good place to start.
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on October 9, 2010
Michael Pollan is something of an alarmist, but he is writing on a topic about which alarmism may be the appropriate response. Pollan has made a career (in addition to his day job as a journalism professor at UC Berkeley) out of writing not only about food, but about the human relationship with nature in general, and plants in particular. In this book he takes on "nutritionism," a term he did not coin but which he finds useful in describing what he sees as the modern scientific tendency to look at the components of foods rather than the whole foods themselves. You can get a summary version of much of Pollan's thinking in the brief Food Rules (2009), but it is worth making the slightly greater investment of time to digest the longer argument. Nutritionism, he says, is not so much a science as an ideology (hence the "ism") that, like most ideologies, operates on the basis of unexamined assumptions but which also captures the imagination and compels action. In an attempt to discover the key to healthy eating, Pollan contends, nutrition scientists have disaggregated foods into mere collections of nutrients, and have focused on a few macronutrients, specifically carbohydrates, fats, and proteins--elements that can easily be chemically manipulated in processed foods but without the beneficial results that come from eating unmodified whole foods. He sees a profit-driven cabal at work that involves nutrition scientists, government, journalists, and especially processed-food producers and marketers, all of whom have some interest in touting the supposed health benefits of the latest super-processed food that can be produced inexpensively and in large quantities. Pollan, in fact, cringes at the thought of calling these products "food," referring to them instead as "foodlike." Why, he asks, is the American population increasingly obese and in other ways unhealthy if modern science has discovered the key to good eating and food processors have filled their products with it? Pollan himself may be guilty of falling into an ideological trap at times, but in the end I found his discussion of food very appealing. It certainly made me reexamine the way I eat. At the same time, it made me realize how hard it would be to completely change my eating habits, given how busy life is and the stranglehold that the processed food industry has over the food choices one has (particularly where I currently live). Pollan will have considerable appeal to readers who appreciate the work of Wendell Berry (as I do). Particularly in the second half of the book, he encourages readers to think of food less as a thing or an industrial product or a set of selections at the supermarket, and more as a creator of relationships--between producer and consumer, and ideally between individuals sharing the experience of eating. Like Berry, Pollan takes an organic view of food and eating, one that is cognizant of the complex webs that the purchase, preparation, and eating of food involves--at least ideally. In the last section of the book, he briefly discusses eating habits, bemoaning the loss of the family meal as a time of conversation, gratitude, and socialization into patterns of manners and what might be termed "family citizenship." This is a book that will undoubtedly be dismissed by many as naïve, wishful thinking, and as an oversimplified view of the modern food-producing industry. For my money, I'd like to move a lot closer to Pollan's ideal--"eat food, not too much, mostly plants"--even knowing that it would take major adjustments in tastes and habits, and even with the increased commitment of time and money that this would involve.
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on October 25, 2017
After 26 years of adult life I’ve finally read a book that presents an dietary model that makes sense and is so counter intuitive there is no way I would have pieced it together from the piles of books and experts on the subject. I’m a changed person and a better human being in the food chain for reading this book.
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on May 8, 2016
Pollan accuses food science of being reductionist, and stipulates that most of the common wisdom we take for granted, like eating less fat for example, are far from being established facts. He argues we should avoid processed foods and eat more organic fruits and vegetables. Pollan's message is easier to swallow thanks to his accessible, engaging prose and humorous take on the absurdities of food science and industry.
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