Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Review: In Defense of Food

After you read The Omnivore's Dilemma, you might find yourself wondering what on earth you should be eating. Fear not, Michael Pollan wrote a follow-up book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, that offers thoughtful, practical and well-researched suggestions to answer your food choice questions.  In short, Pollan recommends you eat local, eat whole food, and support sustainable farming.  We agree!

Pollan boils his research down to seven words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The book explains these maxims further, and exposes the many despicable things the "food" industry does to sell their products even at the expense of your health. Furthermore, Pollan's interviews with top food and nutrition researchers in the government and private sector reveal how bad the science is in that area and point out, as Pollan notes, "there is a lot more religion in science than you might expect."

Some of the guidelines Pollan arrived at include:
  • "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food" (Berry Bubblegum Bash Flavored Go-Gurt Portable Yogurt Tubes anyone?)
  • "Don't eat anything incapable of rotting"
  • "Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high fructose corn syrup"
  • "Avoid food products that make health claims" (when Cocoa Puffs are endorsed as being whole grain "heart healthy" food, or when margarine is labeled "trans fat free!" you should pause and reflect)
And, my personal favorite:
  • "Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does."
This book is worth reading if you are interested in natural living, whole food, the Eat Local movement, or sustainable farming. Like Pollan's first book, In Defense of Food is a well written, engaging, quick read that will serve as a helpful reference.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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