In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto Hardcover – Jan 1 2008
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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.)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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".
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Great book, great store! This is my second order and everything was goodPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good book, however there is a lot of fluff.
If you are very new to nutrition, this would be a good start. Read more
This is one of the best books I've ever read (had it done within a week). It reaffirmed many things I already knew, but provided the facts behind it and context for the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is an excellent discussion of the state of our food industry, and has practical suggestions on how it can be improved. Recommended.Published 5 months ago by Pat Marrion
Great response to The Omnivore's Dilemma. Michael Pollan is a great storyteller and journalist.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer