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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
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Manufacturer: Penguin Press HC, The
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 613.2
EAN: 9781594201455
ISBN: 1594201455
Label: Penguin Press HC, The
Manufacturer: Penguin Press HC, The
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 2008-01-01
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The
Studio: Penguin Press HC, The

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Editorial Reviews:

What to eat, what not to eat, and how to think about health: a manifesto for our times

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible foodlike substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Michael Pollan's sensible and decidedly counterintuitive advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food."

Writing In Defense of Food, and affirming the joy of eating, Pollan suggests that if we would pay more for better, well-grown food, but buy less of it, we'll benefit ourselves, our communities, and the environment at large. Taking a clear-eyed look at what science does and does not know about the links between diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about the question of what to eat that is informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach.

In Defense of Food reminds us that, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, the solutions to the current omnivore's dilemma can be found all around us.

In looking toward traditional diets the world over, as well as the foods our families-and regions-historically enjoyed, we can recover a more balanced, reasonable, and pleasurable approach to food. Michael Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives and enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy.


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Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Against 'nutritionism'
Comment: Michael Pollan, professor of journalism at Berkeley, is a prolific writer on food and food-related issues, which have drawn much attention in the United States in recent years. After his more historical and philosophical works, "In Defense of Food" is a practical guide to and defense of food. To be precise, food as opposed to processed, additive-filled, can-conserved and/or microwavable goo that passes for food in most of our Western supermarkets.

Pollan uses a pleasant style and a usefully skeptical attitude towards the faddish nutritional science of the past decades to launch a critique on the industrial process of food production in the Western world, which has made us at the same time less healthy, fatter, and less nourished. As Pollan shows, typical 'rich' diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, coronary disease, stroke and so forth are directly and invariably correlated to following the broadly defined 'Western diet' (which despite Pollan using this name is really mostly the American diet). This, in turn, is caused partially by an excessive focus on single 'good' or 'bad' nutrients in food science, which eliminates both the interplay of various elements in given foodstuffs as they relate to our health, partially by the social and cultural contexts of food being ignored in such science, leading to useless and confusing study results, and finally in part by the food industry bribing and cajoling governments and researchers alike to make these practices suit their profit needs. He calls this 'nutritionism', following an Australian researcher on the same topic.

Although Pollan's critique is backward-looking in the sense of supporting traditional conceptions of food, where food is healthy qua food, not because of one or another 'good' nutrient du jour being part of it, its radical nature is by no means to be underestimated. Consistently, at times even repetitively, Pollan shows chapter after chapter how all the negative effects associated with the American way of eating as well as the 'food' consumed are the result of the modern agrocapitalist food industry and its unrestrained victory over any standards of healthcare or regulation other than removing explicit poison (and even that not always).

As alternative, Pollan proposes methods of food production that eliminate the artificial focus on individual nutrients as well as restoring the social context of meals in the classic sense, which implies eating natural, unaltered foods (organic or better), eating them in normal quantities, and taking your time with the meal to enjoy it. He summarizes his basic viewpoint as "eat food, not too much, mostly plants", but expands upon this in the final chapter to give some more detailed considerations on what kind of attitude to take to choosing food in our kind of society.

In a pleasant change from the normal faddish type of diet advice book, he actually looks at the structural issues around the production of food, not just choice of specific nutrients in them, and he gives tips on what kind of things to consider when choosing rather than telling the reader specifically what kind of food to eat. This is indeed a great advancement and for that reason this book is certainly to be recommended. The only downsides are a gratuitous and unnecessarily anti-socialist attitude (he repeatedly compares things he doesn't like to Marxism or the Soviet Union, even though that has no relation to the topic whatsoever), and the fact his critique gets a little repetitive over time.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: In Defense of Food a Winner
Comment: The book was a requirement for a college class. This was the easiest purchase of material yet! No searching in a bookstore or standing in lines. Just get on the computer and click...it's done. The book arrived quickly, was very reasonably priced, and in great condition. I see an A in my future.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: What & How We Should Eat
Comment: I already knew I would like this book before I read it. What food items we see advertised on television and what colorfully and cleverly packaged items we find in mass quantities on our grocery store shelves is not really food. To quote the author-Instead of food, we are consuming "edible foodlike substances"-no longer the products of nature but of food science. I have believed for years that we have over processed and over industrialized our diets. If you really want to learn some cold hard facts, check out the Nutrition Action Newsletter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
There is real food out there and that is what we should be eating...

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Shame on the reader!
Comment: Love the book, despise the reader, Scott Brick. Talk about a condescending, drippily sarcastic, over-pronounced performance - it's not listenable. Pollan's voice in my head when I read the book was reasonable in spite of its strong message. Brick makes it as nasty as right wing radio. What a waste of money and time.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Eat better, live longer
Comment: Here's a quick synopsis, but I strongly recommend you read this book and formulate your own opinions.

Don't shop supermarks..but if you must, stay outside of the middle aisles. Keep to the produce/meat/dairy sections which undoubtedly are located on the perimeters. Eat organic, if you can and your budget permits. Organic vegetables/fruits contain more micronutrients than those that are laced with pesticides and grown in chemically enriched soils. Utilize your local farmers' market, keep money in your community and out of corporations. Eat a diverse diet. Don't eat fat-free versions of food that shouldn't be fat-free (eg. fat free cheese, fat free chocolate, fat free butter). Eat less but better quality meats. Cereal isn't as good as advertised. Food should expire [with the exception of honey], if it doesn't, don't eat it. And most importantly, eat ethnic foods, the Western diet is the downfall of health care in America.


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