It seems kinda silly to read a couple of hundred pages about something as simple as food. But I did! And Michael Pollan made it worthwhile.
In Defense of Food is an engaging look at food and the food industry. Pollan is a good writer and I was captivated within minutes. For the record, I never intended to do anything more than skim, but I ended up engrossed and read every single word. It was a journey that alternatively amused and enraged me.
Pollan takes on the modern idea of diet with a full scale attack on what we call food and put in our mouths. He exposes Agri-business, pseudo-science and "Big Food." He doesn't spare anyone starting with the USDA and General Mills and ending with the consumer who would rather grab an attractive package of prepared "healthy" food than cook.
Pollan effectively argues that
- Over the last 25 years food as been gradually replaced by nutrients
- This emphasis on nutrients has actually promoted disease and obesity
- To be healthy we must return to common sense eating both in the quality of our food and in the quantity we consume
Believe it or not adding "nutrients" to sugary, processed (starchy) cereal will not magically make it healthy. Additives are not food. Who knew?
Seriously, before you decide to go on a diet, read this book. It is not only informative but interesting.
Like many good ideas, it is pretty simple. Your body is only going to be as healthy as the fuel you provide it. Cut the sugar and white flour. Pick fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain. Eat small meals. Eat often. Don't gorge yourself; stop when you feel 80% full. Take time to enjoy what you eat.
The writing is lively although the book could use some graphics. Even if you don't learn anything new (which is doubtful), this is an entertaining reminder that food choices are more art than science.
The Publisher says:
What to eat, what not to eat, and how to think about health: a manifesto for our times ""Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."" These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not ""real."" These ""edible foodlike substances"" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by ""nutrients,"" and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Michael Pollan's sensible and decidedly counterintuitive advice is: ""Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food.""