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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto [Paperback]

Michael Pollan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 28 2009
#1 New York Times Bestseller

Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?

Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion--most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see to become. With In Defense of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

"Michael Pollan [is the] designated repository for the nation's food conscience."
-Frank Bruni, The New York Times

" A remarkable volume . . . engrossing . . . [Pollan] offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave."
-The Washington Post

"A tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be redced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential... [a] lively, invaluable book."
--Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"In Defense of Food is written with Pollan's customary bite, ringing clarity and brilliance at connecting the dots."
-The Seattle Times


Michael Pollan’s newest book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education--was published by The Penguin Press in April 2013.


 

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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto + The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals + Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In his hugely influential treatise The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan traced a direct line between the industrialization of our food supply and the degradation of the environment. His new book takes up where the previous work left off. Examining the question of what to eat from the perspective of health, this powerfully argued, thoroughly researched and elegant manifesto cuts straight to the chase with a maxim that is deceptively simple: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. But as Pollan explains, food in a country that is driven by a thirty-two billion-dollar marketing machine is both a loaded term and, in its purest sense, a holy grail. The first section of his three-part essay refutes the authority of the diet bullies, pointing up the confluence of interests among manufacturers of processed foods, marketers and nutritional scientists—a cabal whose nutritional advice has given rise to a notably unhealthy preoccupation with nutrition and diet and the idea of eating healthily. The second portion vivisects the Western diet, questioning, among other sacred cows, the idea that dietary fat leads to chronic illness. A writer of great subtlety, Pollan doesn't preach to the choir; in fact, rarely does he preach at all, preferring to lets the facts speak for themselves. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

" Michael Pollan [is the] designated repository for the nation's food conscience."
-Frank Bruni, The New York Times

" A remarkable volume . . . engrossing . . . [Pollan] offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave."
-The Washington Post

"A tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be redced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential... [a] lively, invaluable book." --Janet Maslin, The New York TImes


" In Defense of Food is written with Pollan's customary bite, ringing clarity and brilliance at connecting the dots."
-The Seattle Times

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
If you spent any time at all in a supermarket in the 1980s, you might have noticed something peculiar going on. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to Nature May 27 2008
Format:Hardcover
It is so good to read a book about nutrition that does not promote any new diet! The author's message is plain and simple: Go back to nature, eat wholesome foods, and don't bother with dieting. Don't overeat; instead eat slowly, and enjoy your meals - such notion has already been promoted by Mireille Guiliano in her bestseller "French Women Don't Get Fat".

Our curse is processed food. The dieting industry completely distorted our feeding process. Our desire to improve everything and to separate 'needed' ingredients from the 'unneeded' ones leads us to refining most of our food products. However, our artificially 'improved' food only seemingly has the same nutritious qualities as natural food. Artificial and natural foods have as little in common as silk roses with real ones.

Processed food is easily obtainable, doesn't require much work to prepare, and, unfortunately, it is often also addictive. At the same time it is full of calories with very small nutritional content.

Like "The Omnivore's Dilemma", Pollan's new book is indeed eye-opening. It makes us think twice about what we are going to put into our mouths the next time we eat. For more reading about the danger of refined foods I strongly recommend "Can We Live 150 Years" - another book devoted to living in agreement with nature, and revealing the secrets of healthy diet.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and informative. and inspiring. Dec 8 2008
Format:Hardcover
I've been a very healthy eater for 10 months now, and I've lost 60 pounds. so what I've been doing has obviously been working and I had decided to stick to that forever. then I read this book, and I'm considering taking my outlook on food one step further.

Pollan can be funny at times, always easy to understand and to the point. I highly recommend this for anyone living in North America who eats food.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Follow up to Omnivore's Dilemma Aug. 14 2008
By Coach C TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
From bestselling author Michael Pollan comes "In Defense of Food", the highly anticipated followup to his previous masterpiece, "Omnivore's Dilemma".

Unlike "Omnivore's Dilemma" which was more of an exploration of the food that is on the typical North American dinner table. "In Defense of Food" is more of a prescription for healthy eating, and a natural follow-up to Pollan's excellent investigative work in "Omnivore's Dillemma".

Essentially, Pollan's argument is that we should eat less and eat mostly fresh vegetables bought at the farmer's market. Nothing fascinating there, but Pollan goes into depth to prove why the current North American diet is the absolutely worst diet humankind could have ever come up with.

Overall, I think most people will enjoy reading "In Defense of Food" more than "Omnivore's Dilemma" simply because it is more concise and has a direct message as opposed to the exploratory work that Pollan goes into with "Omnivore's Dilemma".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important book I've ever read Jan. 20 2009
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Granted, it's a case of 'preaching to the converted', but the impact of the book is the same: if I were able, I'd give copies to everyone I love.

Considering the subject matter -nutritionism- Pollan has a light touch, a very non-lecturing way of dealing with the most pressing of issues. While he backs up his conjectures (because, let's face it, *everything* in this field is conjecture, not the least of which what science tells us) with references, he doesn't get bogged down. The tone is serious...yet the delivery quite...well, 'digestible'.

All the way through reading 'Defense', I found myself a) shaking my head, b) feeling angry, sad, frustrated, and c) wondering what the average person's reaction would be. Because over the past few years, I've found myself walking a particular, mostly divergent path when it comes to certain points-of-view. I am not a materialistic consume-a-lot consumer. I do not see the automobile as being an acceptable core value. I have strident views regarding fitness and health. And I see what Pollan talks about as paramount in our world; the economy, the environment...none of it will matter unless we effect a paradigm shift in the way we eat. Pollan provides enough to chew on here for the necessary dialogue to begin.

We have, in many ways, been sold a bill of goods regarding food. And at the heart of it, the equivalent of the 'military-industrial complex' that has brought about the world we live in today in a war-sense. Behind this 'Western diet' effort, the scientists, the media and the government.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic! Feb. 9 2010
Format:Paperback
Very well written. Easy to understand and very entertaining. It's a great book for somebody, who appreciates food and its connection to our health and our environment. The book gives you also some easy, yet inspiring tips, which will help you to take responsibility in our society and for your health.

I have it since three weeks and read it already twice...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed the way I eat July 17 2009
By J. Tobin Garrett TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Having not read The Omnivore's Dilemma, I can't compare the two books, but I can say that In Defense of Food has changed the way I look at food and the way I eat (for the better, I hope).

The book advocates a rejection of 'nutritionism' and reductionist science, with its over emphasis on breaking down the parts of food to chemical properties and expecting to be able to understand food piece by piece. But, like most of nature, things are not built like machines with interchangeable parts; instead they are a set of intricate and complex symbiotic relationships, irreducible to simple components that can be added or subtracted at whim by the food industry.

Pollan does fall into his own trap, when discussing the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, but acknowledges this seeming contradiction to his argument.

Pollan also advocates a return to food culture, rather than seeing food as simply an annoyance that must be dealt with a few times a day. Sit at a table, he says. Sit with other people. Enjoy your food slowly. All this is excellent advice.

Slowly but surely it seems our society is coming to recognize the importance of food and food culture, seeing food as a way to connect ourselves to nature and enjoy ourselves while doing it. Hopefully this book will speed up the process a bit.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Food is good for us after all.
I will never eat the same way again b
Published 2 months ago by DEWEY_U_2
4.0 out of 5 stars A Way Through It
A good read. Pollan's books are always a good read and this one is no different. The travel of modern man through the process of attaining the food we eat is well written.
Published 2 months ago by Doug W. Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's get back to eating real food
This is truly an eye opening book by Michael Pollan. He really breaks it down and explains why we should get back to eating real food and stop eating “food-like” products. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Horace McPherson
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing
I bought this book at a point in my life when I was very unhappy with my health. I knew I wanted to cut out processed foods, but I didn't know why, or where to start. Read more
Published 4 months ago by SMAMW
5.0 out of 5 stars best book on food ever
Pollan's interesting and informative read, and wonderful advice: eat food, not too much, mostly plants, is totally worthy of the five star rating.
Published 7 months ago by Canleanne
5.0 out of 5 stars A Healthy Read
I bought it to replace one I had been loaned and had passed on. That's how good the information is. Take the advice and turn your life around. Read more
Published 9 months ago by rar
4.0 out of 5 stars A Starter, Not so Much an Entree
In Defense of Food

This is one case where I wish Amazon allowed half-starts, because I really think it rates about 3. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Donald McKenzie
4.0 out of 5 stars In Defence of this book!
The best thing about this book is Pollan's ability to be neutral about any specific diet and yet, still clearly arguing the need for a change in the precessed foods we all eat... Read more
Published 9 months ago by marc
5.0 out of 5 stars Well received gift
I bought this item as a gift for my cousin, who has been a Michael Pollan fan since the omnivore's dilemma. He greatly enjoyed it!
Published 15 months ago by RJ
5.0 out of 5 stars must read for evvery eater and their children
An honest and brave expression and analysis of the world of food, industry, the profit motive, the food industry, and much more. read it.live longer and happier,
Published 20 months ago by JOSEPH STRAUCH
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