in defense of food

In anticipation of Michael Pollan‘s visit to Kansas City on Friday this week to discuss his new book Cooked, I figured I had better knock his In Defense of Food off my TBR before the event!

I have read two of Pollan’s books before: The Omnivore’s Dilemma (published 2006, read in 2008) and Food Rules (published in 2009, read in 2010). I’m a little out-of-order and a couple years behind on them, but still they’re good, worthwhile reads.

Much of the information in In Defense of Food is also in Food Rules, just more expanded upon with citations. The middle section was pretty bleak, laying out exactly all the problems with American food and eating habits from so-called “reductionist” science (where scientists and researchers just try to identify and isolate one nutrient and its effects rather than the whole food itself), of course processed foods, and the dissolving of the traditional family meal. But it is eye-opening to read about how everything really is connected—soil, sun, natural chemicals, flavors, etc.—and how certain nutrients or components in one food effect the others. Pollan’s writing style is accessible, too, without too much scientific jargon. A problem, though (that he acknowledges) is that people of only certain high enough income levels are likely to be able to follow his advice. Sad.

I can’t speak for all the scientific evidence, exactly, as neither Pollan nor I are scientists. But I do appreciate that he gives you a lot to think about as far as being more aware of what you’re buying and putting into your body. His mantra “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” is a great starting point to healthier eating. Looking forward to reading Cooked later on and hearing Pollan speak on Friday here in Kansas City!

In Defense of Food was my fifth read of twelve books total for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader.

Read from May 1 to 5, 2013.

4 thoughts on “in defense of food

  1. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” Duh right? I know that’s what I *should* be doing! I’d love to be able to hear him speak, I think it would be inspiring! Enjoy the event and make sure to keep us updated 🙂

    • Thanks! And yeah, “duh” is totally right. “Get off your lazy butt once in a while” could be another one of the rules for me, LOL! This summer I am going to re-commit (again…) to going to the weekly farmers markets here, too.

  2. I’m really interested in all of these books – I want to read this one (and the Omnivore’s Dilemma) so bad, but I never seem to be drawn “enough” towards scientific/non-fiction books, even if I really am interested. For instance, I’ve had Hawking’s A Brief History of Time on my shelf for years – I desparately want to read it, except not really? BAH!

    • I have enjoyed every one of Michael Pollan’s books I’ve read so far! Start with Food Rules—it’s a short, quick mini-guide to eating better/smarter and can give you an idea of what Pollan is all about. Then In Defense of Food expands on those rules. The Omnivore’s Dilemma delves into where our food comes from, and the ethics surrounding all that. I have heard that his The Botany of Desire is his best, so that’s on my list to get to eventually.

      I’m with you, though—I’m interested in scientific non-fiction, but it has to be readable and accessible to my non-scientific, artistically inclined brain. I enjoy Mary Roach’s books, too!

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