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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifestoby Michael Pollan
"Pollan's critique of the American food industry and the plague of obesity, diabetes, coronary disease, cancer, and untimely death for which it is largely responsible is comparable to the work of Rachel Carson as a contribution to the history of human self-destruction, for the food fabricators could not have done their work without our complicity any more than the environmental polluters could have done theirs." Jason Epstein, The New York Review of Books (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
Synopses & 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 food-like 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.
"In his 2006 blockbuster, 'The Omnivore's Dilemma,' Michael Pollan gave voice to Americans' deep anxiety about food: What should we eat? Where does our food come from? And, most important, why does it take an investigative journalist to answer what should be a relatively simple question? In the hundreds of interviews Pollan gave following the book's publication, the question everyone,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) including me, asked him was: What do you eat? It was both a sincere attempt to elicit a commonsense prescription and, when it came from cynical East Coast journalists, a thinly veiled attempt to trap the author. 'Oh! So he shops at farmers markets,' we snipped enviously to one another. 'Well, easy for him out there in Berkeley where they feast on peaches and cream in February! What about the rest of us?' 'In Defense of Food' is Pollan's answer: 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.' For some, that instruction will seem simple, even obvious. (It will seem especially so to those who read Pollan's lengthy essay on the same topic in the New York Times magazine last year.) But for most people, those seven little words are a declaration of war on the all-American dinner. Goodbye, 12-ounce steak. Instead, how about three ounces of wild-caught salmon served with roasted butternut squash and a heap of sauteed kale? For many, following the rules may not be so simple after all. Yet in this slim, remarkable volume, Pollan builds a convincing case not only against that steak dinner but against the entire Western diet. Over the last half-century, Pollan argues, real food has started to disappear, replaced by processed foods designed to include nutrients. Those component parts, he says, are understood only by scientists and exploited by food marketers who thrive on introducing new products that hawk fiber, omega-3 fatty acids or whatever else happens to be in vogue. Pollan calls it the age of 'nutritionism,' an era when nutrients have been elevated to ideology, resulting in epidemic rates of obesity, disease and orthorexia, a not yet official name for an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. 'What we know is that people who eat the way we do in the West today suffer substantially higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity than people eating any number of different traditional diets,' he writes. 'When people come to the West and adopt our way of eating, these diseases soon follow.' Part of Pollan's answer to improving our health is going back to traditional foods and ways of eating: Eat leaves, not seeds. Steer clear of any processed food with a health claim. And for goodness sake, don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. But equally important is changing the way we relate to food. Pollan argues that we've traded in our food culture — aka eating what Mom says to eat — for nutritionism, which puts experts in charge and makes the whole question of what to eat so confusing in the first place. Indeed, Pollan makes a strong case that the 'French paradox' — the way the French stay thin while gobbling triple crÃ¨me cheese and foie gras — isn't a paradox at all. The French have a different relationship with food. They eat small portions, don't come back for seconds and spend considerably more time enjoying their food — an eminently sensible approach. In Pollan's mind, trading quantity for quality and artificial nutrients for foods that give pleasure is the first step in redefining the way we think about food. The rules here: Pay more, eat less. Eat meals, not snacks. Cook your own meals and, if you can, plant a garden. Each of the rules is well supported — and only occasionally with the scientific mumbo-jumbo that Pollan disparages. But what makes Pollan's latest so engrossing is his tone: curious and patient as he explains the flaws in epidemiological studies that have buttressed nutritionism for 30 years, and entirely without condescension as he offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave. That's no easy feat in a book of this kind. What should we eat? The answer is here. Now we just have to see if Americans are willing to follow good advice. Jane Black is a staff writer for the Food section of The Washington Post." Reviewed by Jane Black, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
"[A] tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be reduced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential....[L]ively, invaluable." Janet Maslin, the New York Times
"Pollan's accessible, meticulously researched book will be essential reading for anyone who takes food seriously." Boston Globe
"[Pollan] uses his familiar brand of carefully researched, common-sense journalism...providing guidelines and convincing arguments." Los Angeles Times
From the author of the bestselling The Omnivores Dilemma comes this bracing and eloquent manifesto that shows readers how they might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich their lives and enlarge their sense of what it means to be healthy.
The bestselling coauthor of Your Money or Your Life chronicles her quest to eat food produced within 10 miles of her home
Taking the locavore movement to heart, bestselling author and social innovator Vicki Robin pledged for one month to eat only food sourced within a 10-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington. Her sustainable diet not only brings to light societyand#8217;s unhealthy dependency on mass-produced, prepackaged foods but also helps her reconnect with her body and her environment.
Like Barbara Kingsolverand#8217;s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the bestselling books of Michael Pollan, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us is part personal narrative and part global manifesto. By challenging herself to eat and buy local, Robin exposes the cause and effect of the food business, from the processed goods laden with sugar, fat, and preservatives to the trucks burning through fuel to bring them to a shelf near you.
Robinand#8217;s journey is also one of community as she befriends all the neighboring farmers who epitomize the sustainable lifestyle. Among them are Tricia, the prolific market gardener who issued Robinand#8217;s 10-mile challenge; Britt and Eric, two
young, enthusiastic farmers living their dream of self-sufficiency; and Vicky, a former corporate executive turned milk producer.
Featuring recipes throughout, along with practical tips on adopting your own locally sourced diet, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us is an inspirational guide and testimonial to the locavore movement and a healthy food future.
New York Timesand#160;Bestseller
Robert Lustigand#8217;s 90-minute YouTube video and#147;Sugar: The Bitter Truthand#8221;, has been viewed more than three million times. Now, in this much anticipated book, he documents the science and the politics that has led to the pandemic of chronic disease over the last 30 years.
In the late 1970s when the government mandated we get the fat out of our food, the food industry responded by pouring moreand#160;sugar in. The result has been a perfect storm, disastrously altering our biochemistry and driving our eating habits out of our control.
To help usand#160;lose weightand#160;and recover our health, Lustig presents personal strategies to readjust the key hormones that regulate hunger, reward, and stress; and societal strategies to improve the health of the next generation. Compelling, controversial, and completely based in science,and#160;Fat Chanceand#160;debunks the widely held notion to prove and#147;a calorie is NOT a calorieand#8221;, and takes that science to its logical conclusion to improve health worldwide.
About the Author
Michael Pollan is the author of three previous books, including The Botany of Desire, a New York Times bestseller. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.
Table of Contents
In Defense Of Food Introduction: An Eater's Manifesto
I. The Age Of Nutritionism
One: From Foods to Nutrients
Two: Nutritionism Defined
Three: Nutritionism Comes to Market
Four: Food Science's Golden Age
Five: The Melting of the Lipid Hypothesis
Six: Eat Right, Get Fatter
Seven: Beyond the Pleasure Principle
Eight: The Proof in the Low-Fat Pudding
Nine: Bad Science
Ten: Nutritionism's Children
II. The Western Diet And The Diseases of Civilization
One: The Aborigine in All of Us
Two: The Elephant in the Room
Three: The Industrialization of Eating: What We Do Know
1. From Whole Foods to Refined
2. From Complexity to Simplicity
3. From Quality to Quantity
4. From Leaves to Seeds
5. From Food Culture to Food Science
III. Getting Over Nutritionism
One: Escape from the Western Diet
Two: Eat Food: Food Defined
Three: Mostly Plants: What to Eat
Four: Not Too Much: How to Eat
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