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Customer Review

630 of 658 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You could buy a #3 at Mickey D's --- or start to save your life, January 7, 2010
This review is from: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (Paperback)
If you got in on the ground floor, you chewed every page of The Omnivore's Dilemma, (464 pages, $8.00 at Amazon).

If you were a second responder, the first Michael Pollan book you read was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, (256 pages, $7.50 at Amazon), which boils theory and anecdote down to a tasty, healthy feeding strategy.

If you're new to the topic or haven't paid attention --- or love Pollan's work and want to spread the gospel --- here's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (137 pages, $11 retail, $5.50 at Amazon), a skinny paperback that says pretty much everything you'd find in his longer books.

Or you can consider Pollan's reduction of his message to seven words --- "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" --- and read nothing more because you know how to crack that koan and adopt a way of eating that just might save your life.

Why, you may wonder, does a clearly written 256-page book need to be boiled down to 64 general principles?

Two reasons.

Those of us who read about food have, in the last few years, been swamped by the language of nutrition. Antioxidants. Polyphenols. Probiotics. Omega-3 fatty acids. But you can know all about this stuff and still not be able to answer the basic question: Yeah, but what should I eat?

Then there are those who have never heard Pollan's message. They're the folks on the coach, eating pre-packaged snack food, sucking down sodas, serving vegetables as an afterthought. In short, people who are devotees of the Western diet --- which is, says Pollan, "the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!"

Pollan wants to help both groups --- and break the cycle of self-created disease.

And the quickest way to do that is through lessons so simple even the guy chowing down a Hungry Man ("It's good to feel full") meal can understand.

"Food Rules" may be short, but it's elegantly organized. Part I addresses the question: What should I eat? (Answer: food.) Part II asks: What kind of food should I eat? (Answer: mostly plants.) And Part II considers: How should I eat? (Answer: Not too much.)

These are un-American answers. Advertising trains us to shop in the center aisles of supermarkets. We've been brainwashed to believe that fast food is food. Because we're so busy, we're encouraged not to cook for ourselves. And that way of living works for us --- right up to the moment we're overweight and diabetic.

But if we break the cycle?

"People who get off the western diet," says Pollan, "see dramatic improvements in their health."

What does Pollan tell you in these pages? Here's a sample:

--- "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
--- "Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce."
---- "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food."
--- "Always leave the table a little hungry.'"
--- "Eat meals together, at regular meal times."
--- "Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car."
--- "Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk."

Pollan would have you only eat junk food you cook yourself. He'd like you to buy your snacks at a farmer's market. He'd like you to use meat as a flavor enhancer, a condiment, an afterthought. And he'd like to see you hurt the bottom line of pre-packaged food companies by paying a little more for real food that's worth eating.

I can imagine a great many of of you nodding in agreement. And feeling superior. And still buying several copies --- to send, anonymously, to loved ones who are eating themselves to death. I can think of no better gift.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 12, 2010 11:37:38 PM PST
4jyelg93 says:
I'm not a fan of Pollan. His books are to my taste condescending: "Eating for Dummies" "All I Know About Eating I Learned in Kindergarten" Only a person who has devauled his or her own intellectual potential would find this stuff entertaining. And some of his ideas are reductionist to the point of absurdity. The whole Michael Pollan oeuvre (if you can even call it that) is about getting cutesy and patronizing advice instead of thinking for yourself. And that sucks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2010 10:12:46 PM PST
JSpangler says:
I can see why you might have these opinions. But I find his writing incisive and insightful. To each his own...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2010 7:55:26 AM PST
Dr. J says:
Common sense is not the same as cutesy. And frankly, in today's world, I find Pollan's approach refreshing and necessary.

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 4:11:43 PM PST
This is the part I like best: "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food"

- Raquel S. Hunter

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010 12:18:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 3, 2010 12:19:39 PM PST
rwizard says:
It is unfortunate that people have a tendency to vote opinions they disagree with into oblivion as "unhelpful". Rhodophile made a reasonably cogent comment, whether or not one agrees with it. (Although I will note that the last line of that Rhodophile's comment was gratuitous and mildly offensive). Thankfully, at least one can unhide things to see what the censored person said. Personally, I enjoyed "Omnivores Dilemma", which I read when it first came out. But I must admit, the quotes I have seen from "Food Rules" seem trite to me. Perhaps there is more substance in the book than the quotes have revealed, but when I added this book to my Amazon shopping cart, I expected hard facts and information, not nouveau homespun bon mots. Until I get to look over a copy for myself, I will suspend judgment, and my purchase. On this particular work, I am wondering if perhaps Rhodophile could have been on to something? Or have the quotes done the book an injustice ?

Posted on Feb 10, 2010 12:12:15 PM PST
A Customer says:
<<I can think of no better gift. >>
I can. Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2010 9:44:30 PM PST
Lalagirl20 says:
Interesting comment. Have you met the majority of Americans? I'm thinking not...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2010 9:46:57 PM PST
Lalagirl20 says:
I would not replace a life style changing book with a 6- week diet plan. In fact, that is nearly the antithesis of Pollan's works.

Posted on Mar 14, 2010 12:47:57 AM PST
B Lee says:
Food, Inc.

How does it compare to Food Inc. ?

Posted on Mar 16, 2010 3:07:59 PM PDT
Lee says:
Jesse, I love the enthusiasm in your review! I felt upbeat after reading it, and was actually surprised the review wasn't the #1 review chosen by other Amazon readers. You made great points, too. As for gifting others with this, I already have those intentions. At the price Amazon is charging, there's no reason not to!
The Western food-industrial-complex supports the profits of the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance-complex, all of which are tied up with obscene-big-banking-practices. Ugh! The sooner the populace can wake up to how commercial food is anti-health and anti-life, the better for all of us.
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