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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008)

by Michael Pollan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,8221891,080 (4.02)175
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of food journalist Pollan's thesis. Humans used to know how to eat well, he argues, but the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." Indeed, plain old eating is being replaced by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Pollan's advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food." Looking at what science does and does not know about diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about what to eat, informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the nutrient-by-nutrient approach.--From publisher description.… (more)
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English (186)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (189)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)


Mostly good advice, if you stick to the big picture. Some of the details are poorly supported, unrealistic, or even a bit offensive. I suspect that if I was the type of consumer Pollan refers to over and over in this book, i wouldn't be reading it. That said, it's as though he assumes that the reader lives on a diet of fast food and microwave entrees and will be able to start shopping at Farmers markets and cooking all of their meals. Lofty goals, but they ought to be grounded with a bit more practical application. ( )
  Cerestheories | Nov 8, 2021 |
Adult nonfiction; science/health. Michael Pollan helps us sort out the conflicting evidence in scientific studies regarding the healthiness/unhealthiness of foods. In a nutshell: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." More specifically, eat natural foods with as few chemical additives and as little processing as possible (avoid products that contain ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than five in number, or that include high-fructose corn syrup) which pretty much leaves dairy, meat, and produce (leafy greens are especially good for you). Also, limit your intake (meat in particular but keep an eye on your portion sizes/snacking in general). ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Nonfiction. This book restarted my desire to eat whole and organic foods when we possible. Pollan’s main thrust is that nutritionist is a science of breaking down foods into components for which research can’t really be done with perfect accuracy since we are all so different and it is difficult to report truthfully and to calculate exactly what we’re eating. He thinks there are aunergosms between components of Whole Foods that work for our bodies and that breaking them apart doesnt necessarily help us. The food mfg base the industry in adding the current favored component to their foods so they can sell them. ( )
  bereanna | Jun 13, 2021 |
Overfed and undernourished, that’s the ridiculous paradox we find ourselves in. In the western world we’ve processed our food to the point where we’ve stripped it of nutrients to create a larger quantity. He gives some obvious tips, like make sure you read ingredients and shop local farmers markets, but he backs it up with the research explaining why and how the food industry has changed over the past few years. I got a lot out of the book, and hope some of the tips stick with me. ( )
  bookworm12 | Apr 28, 2021 |
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That is the slogan of the new food movement — whether you call it organic, slow food, natural. You know these people – they shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, can be found at the farmers markets and natural food co-ops, use all-natural cleaners and soaps, talk about raising chickens and rabbits in their backyard. Michael Pollan has written several books about food, nutrition, and the American diet; this particular book focuses on the controversy about nutrition, nutrients, food additives, and diet gimmicks. Pollan argues that much of what is consumed by Americans today is not really food, but rather “edible foodlike substances,” and suggests that despite our recent food science discoveries and studies on nutrition, Americans are less healthy than in previous generations. This book is a defense of food and eating, against misleading food nutrition science and the manufactured food industry. Pollan examines the historical background — the emergence of nutrition awareness and marketing, and something called “nutritionism” — that food is essentially the sum of its nutrient parts. He also looks at studies in which people from other cultures adopt the American diet — and inherit American diseases and disorders, projects regarding the cessation of the American diet and readoption of the traditional diet.

In addition to his critique, Pollan also offers practical, applicable suggestions: avoid food products that make health claims, stop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle, get out of the supermarket whenever possible, eat like an omnivore, remember that you are what what you eat eats (think about it), don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet, regard nontraditional foods with skepticism, don’t get your food from the same place your car gets fuel.

Though I had been skeptical of Pollan’s works after hearing much fanfare and hype about them, I found this book to be full of practical common sense. It was a bit ironic as I was reading to see that Pollan quotes studies and surveys regarding food claims and nutrition, right after berating the food industry for tweaking food claims and nutrition to sell food. Still, if books like this encourage Americans to look more closely at their food choices and move towards a healthier perspective on eating, I’m all for them. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Pollanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Ann and Gerry,
With gratitude for your loyal friendship
and inspired editing
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Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
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…the "what to eat" question is somewhat more complicated for us than it is for, say, cows. Yet for most of human history, humans have navigated the question without expert advice. To guide us we had, instead, Culture, which, at least when it comes to food, is really just a fancy word for your mother.
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"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of food journalist Pollan's thesis. Humans used to know how to eat well, he argues, but the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." Indeed, plain old eating is being replaced by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Pollan's advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food." Looking at what science does and does not know about diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about what to eat, informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the nutrient-by-nutrient approach.--From publisher description.

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Book description
Challenges current approaches to healthy eating, arguing that the real food consumed by past generations is being replaced with commercialized, scientifically altered foods that offer no health benefits and may cause serious damage, and encourages people to change the way they eat and return to basic nutrition rules.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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