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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

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4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  74,790 Ratings  ·  6,557 Reviews
"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, c ...more
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Published January 7th 2009 by Penguin Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2007)
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Ginny Messina
Dec 15, 2015 Ginny Messina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Actually, there is enough good material in this book that it probably warrants another star or two. But I was so alarmed at the amount of misinformation here that one star is the best I can do.

Michael Pollan is right about some of the big stuff. Nutrition research is badly flawed. It has sometimes led us down the wrong road (although it has also provided life-saving findings). The government is far too slow to change its recommendations and has strong ties (to put it mildly) to the food industr
...more
Amy
Mar 04, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Buddhist tradition there is a level of hell whereby the dead, known as hungry ghosts, are trapped with enormous stomachs and tiny throats unable to swallow anything but the smallest bites of food. Their particular brand of torture is that they are always eating and yet their hunger is never satisfied. These hungry ghosts sound an awful lot like the modern American eater trapped in the unhealthy western diet demonized in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

You may be
...more
Ken-ichi
I am conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I agree with Pollan's thesis: food science has not served us well over the past 100 years, and we really should "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I believe that partially because of Pollan's arguments, and the revelatory reporting he did for The Omnivore's Dilemma, but mostly because I've studied biology, and have at least a limited idea of how complex human bodies and human food can be, and how evolution may not have prepared us for Twin ...more
Happyreader
I hated reading this book. And that's sad because I agree with his basic premise. Just eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants. And I would add, try and get off your ass once in awhile. But this book was excrutiating to read. I read the first 50 pages, gave up, and went to the last section on his very basic food rules, gave up again. His language was all black and white with blanket condemnations and blanket recommendations, ironic since that's what he condemns in scientific thinking and food ...more
Jason Koivu
Nov 01, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, food
Books like this make me afraid to eat. Then they make me mad at the way I've been eating. Finally, they make me a better eater.

At the start, the idea seems simple: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." When I read that I thought, okay I can stop reading. I know that already, so I've got this shit down.

But what is food today? It may not be what you think it is. Most of what you find at the grocer's is not food. That complicates things just a little bit, doesn't it?

Pollan complicates that sim
...more
Will Byrnes
Nov 02, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-nutrition
One of the more pernicious aspects of nutritionism is that it encourages us to blame our health problems on lifestyle choices, implying that the individual bears ultimate responsibility for whatever illnesses befall him. It’s worth keeping in mind that a far more powerful predictor of heart disease than either diet or exercise is social class.
Pollan contends that Western society has replaced our relationship with food to a relationship with nutrition, to our great loss. Science has sought to f
...more
Charlotte
Michael Pollan is absolutely on to something with his central thesis; namely, that the American diet has been taken over by "edible foodlike substances" (ie, hyper-processed foods) and the American approach to health as it relates to eating has been taken over by "nutritionism" (ie, the idea that food is nothing more than the sum of its nutrient parts). He makes an excellent case that the current epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. are the inevitable result of this perverse relat ...more
James
Mar 10, 2008 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am deeply ashamed, depressed, and embarrassed by the fact that such a book as Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food need be written, much less published, critically acclaimed, and enjoyed by someone such as myself. Pollan himself acknowledges the perverse state of affairs saying, “That one should feel the need to mount a defense of ‘the meal’ is sad, but then I never would have thought ‘food’ needed defending, either.”

We should be collectively mortified as a culture because though Pollan greets
...more
Ganesh
Jan 13, 2008 Ganesh marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment, culture, food
Last night, I watched Pollan -- who looks just like one of my uncles -- on TV promoting this book. Something wonderful and empowering he said: the food industry pays very close attention to what consumers want.

In fact, they're terrified of us.

For instance, it only took a little over 100 concerned McDonald's customers writing to ask if it were true that the chain served genetically modified potatoes -- that was enough
to get the issue on the agenda at their shareholders' meeting.

Another example
...more
Trevor
Oct 14, 2009 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most remarkable meals I’ve ever eaten was here - http://www.royalmail.com.au/Pages/Foo.... Now, Dunkeld is a long way to go for a meal, even if you do live in Melbourne – and a ten course meal served over many hours with matching wines that costs an arm and three toes possibly isn’t something everyone would think of as value for money. However, unlike the said value for money meals I will never forget the evening I spent at this restaurant. Fantastic food, remarkable wines and delight ...more
Patadave
Jul 19, 2008 Patadave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a huge fan of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, (see review here) but only a big fan of In Defense of Food. The first two sections of Defense, “The Age of Nutritionism,” and “The Western Diet and Diseases of Civilization” fit perfectly with Omnivore’s posture of investigative journalism. While Omnivore included Pollan as a character, it came across as a non-biased, or relatively low-biased, intro to the foodstuffs served across America. The first two sections of Defense adhere to this eve ...more
Adam
Jul 24, 2012 Adam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food might best be described as a book which fares best when judged by its cover. Below the title, a reader finds some dietary advice which is not a bad place to start: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." There are a few good ideas inside the book, too. It would be easy not to look much deeper, as Pollan's prose is so lively that most readers won't want to stop and give things a closer look. However, the reader who does bother to check the details sees that In ...more
Andy
Feb 25, 2008 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
**My full review is posted on my blog at: http://citingthetext.blogspot.com

Michael Pollan summarizes his latest book, published January 2008, on the cover and in just seven words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He admits on the very first page that he has pretty much "given the game away" with that summary, but that he plans to complicate matters a bit in the interest of "keeping things going for a couple hundred more pages." Since I began the book at the start of a four hour bus ride
...more
Spencer
Feb 07, 2008 Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Thanks for the reminder to update, Ethan!

This book was really eye opening. I think (or thought) of myself as having a pretty healthy diet-- I have the whole wheat blend flaxseed enhanced pasta, the total cereal with nonfat soy milk, the bran muffins and the fish oil capsules.

I AM A DUPE! I've been sucked into the cult of "nutritionism" as Pollans calls it, the belief that what's healthy about the food are the identified micronutrients it contains, and that foods are either healthful elixers or n
...more
Shaun
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Certainly good advice, but unfortunately, Michael Pollan should have stopped there.

Ugh...what a huge disappointment. This is a perfect example of why journalists should not give nutritional advice or write these kinds of books.

Pollan starts out by stating the obvious, but then quickly learns what many nutritional professionals and public health advocates do, the obvious isn't sexy and it certainly doesn't make a bestseller. As a result the chapters that fol
...more
Laurel
Oct 22, 2009 Laurel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, health
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Those are the first sentences of Michael Pollan's delightful little book In Defense of Food. In fact, as Pollan himself admits, there's not much more to it than that. So, how to fill up a whole book when those three first sentences tell it all?

Well, as simple as that advice seems, the first sentence is more complicated than it may appear. Eat food. Sure. Of course. What else would we eat? But as we all know and often try not to think too much about -- what
...more
Brennan
Aug 29, 2015 Brennan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When the most healthy person I know (Kaitlyn O'Malley) recommended this book to me and told me it was the one book that really changed what she ate and how she thought about food, I knew I had to read it. And I loved it and felt much the same way. So thanks, Kaitlyn - I really appreciate it!

I believe everyone should read this book. Michael Pollan's advice, "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much" is just brilliant and is explained in great detail throughout the book. I knew of this saying before
...more
Jamie
Aug 01, 2008 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of the idea behind this whole 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge was to branch out into genres and topics that I might not normally try. While I haven't read anything about perky single British chicks trying to make it on their own and find love in the big city or perky single British vampire chicks trying to fight crime and find love in the big city, this book by Michael Pollen about nutrition and eating well does signal a bit of a departure for me.

Pollen's manifesto here isn't actually that m
...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Covering similar ground to his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan discusses ways to eat healthily despite a marketplace flooded with over-processed food and food-like products. He makes a very convincing case that food science has been oversimplified into "nutritionism", which reduces the idea of food to its component nutrients. The problem is that we still don't know everything that food does, and cannot adequately replace it by artificial means.
Even fresh food is suffering from this simplifi
...more
Elizabeth
Apr 12, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Michael Pollan's succinct dietary advice is so simple it's practically insulting, but thanks to a combination of bad science and government influence, Americans are more confused than ever about how and what to eat. Our ancestors wouldn't recognize most of the "food" we eat today, things like refined pasta fortified with omega-3s or diet soda spiked with vitamins. By refining and processing our food and trying to add the nutrients back in, the modern food ...more
Cass
Just finished it. Loved it. I borrowed this copy, which is a shame as I would have highlighted it, I shall have to buy my own copy and highlight it.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

This is the message of the book, brilliant in its simplicity. I plan to get a big poster made up and hung in the kitchen/dining area. I wholeheartedly agree with everything written.

The first half of the book talks about what is wrong with our western food culture. The second half of the books discusses some loose
...more
Newengland
Feb 06, 2008 Newengland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cooks, environmentalists, organic fans, vegetarians and omnivores
Any eaters out there? I thought so. And probably you didn't think you needed to educate yourself about eating since you mastered it way back when you were a babe. Think again! Michael Pollan's call to the ramparts is must-read material for those wondering what the heck happened to food as our great-grandparents knew it. Yeah, SOME of it (real food, I mean) is still around, but an awful lot of the stuff we buy and ingest, in all innocence, is "food" that has unfortunately earned the quotation mar ...more
Laura
Jul 16, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’

This seems to be my summer of food. I'm in a CSA. I ordered the large family size to push myself into preserving the food. It's more food than I can eat. I give it away to almost everyone who visits. And I love it. It's the best deal I've ever gotten with food. I only hope that I can continue to give it away before it spoils.

Also the last three books I've read have all been about food. And in someways -- they've merged together. Between reading these boo
...more
Edan
Nov 19, 2007 Edan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who eat
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
So begins In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan's informative, frightening, and ultimately inspiring new book. Pollan explores the dangers of nutritionism and traces how we became a culture of fat people eating "Heart Healthy!" Fritos in our cars--and/or a culture of eaters obsessed with health, and yet eating food-like substances that are in fact incredibly harmful to our bodies. He urges us to to ignore the noise of diet fads and journ
...more
Rebecca
Jun 04, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm suspicious of my motivation to read this book. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with wanting to be congratulated on my eating habits.

Well, having now finished it, I'm mostly right about that. Congratulations, self. But I also learned a lot, particularly a theory about how Americans think about food that seems utterly true for the majority of my friends and family. Which is that people don't think, "Hey, I'm eating a banana, yum!" they think, "Whoa, too much sugar, not enough protein,
...more
Rebecca
Aug 13, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was not, I suppose, that much in this book that I had no clue about. Pollan's been writing op eds for long enough that I already knew most of his basic argument. That said, I agree with a number of his conclusions (although that doesn't mean I find them easy to carry out), and I still enjoy his style of writing. He doesn't go for the gross-out, or the manufactured outrage. His writing occasionally shades purple, but he usually seems ruefully self-aware about it.

And I can't help but think
...more
Lightreads
Feb 18, 2012 Lightreads rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, food
This was The It Book in food a couple years ago, and I can see why. Its prescriptions are succinct and comprehensible, if not actually easy to follow. Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. The "eat food" bit is about, y'know, food, and how much of what we eat is actually the nutritional equivalent of Styrofoam packing peanuts. It's a nice thought, and a pretty sound theory, but Pollan vastly overestimates the degree to which people below the upper middle class have access to food, as he defines ...more
Keith Akers
Dec 28, 2009 Keith Akers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book predisposed to give it 3 or 4 stars. The subtitle, "Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants" sounded like something that (as a vegan) I could get behind, even if Pollan himself isn't vegetarian. I liked "The Botany of Desire," and also am liking "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (haven't finished yet).

This book is well written and contains much that I agree with. But it's not in the same category as these others because of his attitude towards science. Michael Pollan can do better.

The r
...more
Lauren
Jun 23, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Pollan is a purist when it comes to food, at least from his ideas in this book, and that could easily be translated as "elitist."

In short, I didn't like this as much as Omnivore's Dilemma.
For one, he berates "nutritionism," which to most people would appear to say that the study of nutrition has little to no redeeming value. Acknowledging and agreeing with the limitations of such a reductionist approach to the science of nutrition, I would argue that the true field of nutrition is much
...more
Clif Hostetler
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

These cautiously conservative recommendations from this book by Michael Pollan I'm sure are good advice. Humans are descended from a long line of omnivores who found the most readily available food to be plants. Anything sweet such as ripe fruit was more rare and seasonal. With the development of hunting tools humans gained the ability to acquire meat, however the size of the human canine teeth is a good indication that humans are not true carnivores. So i
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • What to Eat
  • The End of Food
  • Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty
  • Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair
  • The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter
  • Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
  • Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally
  • Real Food: What to Eat and Why
  • Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
  • Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front
  • Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food
  • Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes
  • Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats
  • Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating
  • Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
  • Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
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Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.
More about Michael Pollan...

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