In Defense of Food

book coverIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan After Michael Pollan wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he apparently got a lot of questions from confused readers about what they should actually eat. This is his answer: no recipes, but a lot of research and thoughts. He starts with his basic philosophy, shown on the cover: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Then he goes through it all. First, a detailed critique of the American food philosophy that he calls nutritionism, which is basically the idea that we can break food down into its basic components, figure out what we need, and feed ourselves based on those ideas. We’ve been trying this for over a hundred years now, defining new things as good or bad, but it hasn’t worked. The more we try, the unhealthier we get as a nation. Humans have been proven to thrive on any number of diets, he says, but the modern Western processed food diet is not one of them. Pollan argues that it’s time to stop eating nutrients and start eating cuisines, real food proven by tradition. In this section, he also talks about the work of Weston A. Price and other nutritional theorists of the 1930s whose research – pointing as it did towards organic farming and traditional food preparation – fell into disfavor in the 1940s when chemical farming and industrial food came into fashion. As a counter to nutritionism, Pollan suggests that we eat food that doesn’t come with health claims and that our grandmothers or great-grandmothers would recognize as food, both in its finished form and in the ingredient list. All in all, I have read nearly all of his advice other places, but rarely with such engaging presentation. This is a good choice if you’re fascinated with the topic, like me, or if you haven’t been reading the newer thinking on nutrition and want a good place to start.

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
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