If you were expecting a gastropolitical epiphany of the likes of The Omnivore's Dilemma, you will be sadly disappointed. Having said that, it is not to Pollan's discredit (in the least) that this latest book is not written in the same style or in the same context as his most popular book, or, even like his previous work, "In Defense of Food". There's no real narrative to follow and the theme, so simply reflected in the title, is to use common sense when deciding what to eat.
The book is organized as follows:
PART 1: What should I eat? (Eat food.)
PART 2: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants.)
PART 3: How should I eat? (Not too much.)
The first sentence of the introduction is, "Eating in our time has gotten complicated...". I bet most people would agree. And so, in an effort to simplify eating, Pollan brings us 64 tidbits of distilled common sense. Under each rule, there is a paragraph or two of explanation, insight, or context. In lieu of listening to the corporations, marketers, and vested nutrition experts, he puts forth a simple and empowering message: We have the wherewithal to decide for ourselves what we should eat.
Some of my favourite rules are:
-Avoid food products that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.
-Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
-If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
-It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
-Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.
Is the point that you should go out and try to embrace all 64 rules? I really don't think so. Should you think about what you put in your mouth? Absolutely. Because if you aren't thinking about what you put in your mouth, someone else is. This is an excellent book to have with you while grocery shopping. Or to give to that time-strapped someone as a gift. The rules are bite-sized and easily digestible, and because of that, the common sense they embody will be palatable to a wide range of people, and hopefully, get those people thinking about what they eat.
This book is easily read within an hour. For all those who may complain about the book's length (or lack thereof), keep in mind that not everything that is simple is elegant but all things elegant usually embrace simplicity.