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What to Eat

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  4,480 ratings  ·  420 reviews
Since its publication in hardcover last year, Marion Nestle's What to Eat has become the definitive guide to making healthy and informed choices about food. Praised as "radiant with maxims to live by" in The New York Times Book Review and "accessible, reliable and comprehensive" in The Washington Post, What to Eat is an indispensable resource, packed with important informa ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by North Point Press (first published 2006)
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
47th out of 682 books — 1,312 voters
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Community Reviews

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Jul 26, 2007 Brad rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies, fans of Michael Pollan
Shelves: non-fiction, food
Marion Nestle is a nutritionist and professor. What to Eat is a nicely segmented book of nutrition advice. A lot of the heady political issues are ones I've read before in Fast Food Nation, The Omnivore's Dilemma and others. Nestle has simple overall advice: "eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, go easy on junk foods."
Some other neat bits I picked up from the book:
-avoid farm-raised fish.
-7 eggs a week is pretty much the max
-frozen vegetables are good
-homogenizing milk is a
Beth Ann
Jul 28, 2007 Beth Ann rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: initiates into healthy eating
I must admit I didn't read all of this book. I tried to read all of it, but I gave up.

This book would be good for people who are starting their journey into healthy eating. Nestle basically walks readers through the supermarket aisle-by-aisle detailing her research on what the average consumer can expect to find.

I did learn some ancillary facts about food topics, but I already have read so much about good eating that there wasn't a lot new to me in this book. Plus, I patronize an alternative sup
If a low-fat, high carb and low-calorie diet makes you feel good and helps you maintain a healthy weight and you just want to refine your regime a tiny bit, then this might be the book for you. It tells you about some of the benefits of eating organic and choosing healthier meats although it does also give terrible advice about taking vitamins and supplements.

If aiming for a low-fat, high carb and low-calorie diet makes you feel awful, hungry and ill - as it does for many of us - and has impeded
I tried. I really did. 150ish pages worth. Her politics were pretty clear when I opened the library edition and smelled the patchouli-tinged pages but I just held my breath and read on. I'm used to it.

Lots of numbers and studies. Most chapters ending in the same basic way. The information about this food is inconclusive at this time. Great. I mean, I'm glad she doesn't try to hide that the studies are mostly inconclusive but surely she can say it with fewer numbers and words.

The writing style
Loved this book. It's essentially a reference guide to shopping and eating that's been broken down by food category, so when I got it in the mail and saw how HUGE it is (600+ pages) I thought I'd just end up reading the chapters on food topics that interest me. I ended up reading the entire thing - even the sections on foods that I don't eat or care about (two chapters just about margarine?!?). Nestle is an academic and a nutritionist, but also (thankfully) a great writer. She writes intelligent ...more
The mixture of common sense, logic, nutritional science, and hard data make WHAT TO EAT an eye-opening one time read as well as a handy reference volume. Even the introduction (an easily digestible 15 pages) serves as a wake-up call about the state of food choices in America and should be required reading for every consumer before taking another trip to the supermarket. I had quite a bit of fun with this book and found it to be more whimsical and interactive than I had expected. A number of para ...more
Jul 10, 2011 Bridget rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Bridget by: Sarah
Shelves: 2011
What to Eat is the antidote to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Where AVM screeched and keened about how eating certain foods makes us horrible people, What to Eat is an unemotional guide to making informed food choices. I would call this a crash course in nutrition, but 'crash' is not the best word to use. It is a robust, honest-to-goodness course in all things food, with its narrative structured according to the shelves and sections you'd find in a supermarket. When I picked up this book, I was at ...more
I think that this was just the wrong kind of food book for me to read. I am more of a "live to eat" type person and this is definitely a "eat to live" kind of book. Each chapter in this book covers a different food: bottled water, seafood, baby food, etc and the author talks about the environmental and health benefits/drawbacks. I found the coverage spotty and the organization confusing - some information is repeated over and over while some stuff is never mentioned. For example - the chapter on ...more
I read selected chapters of this book. There is quite a bit of good information in here. This is not a "food fad" book. Marion Nestle seems to be fairy traditional about what is good for you and what is bad for you (in other words, stay on a low fat diet, but I know there's been recent research on that topic that states otherwise). There is so much conflicting information about food out there in books and on the web. I've been trying to navigate my way around all of this information so I can mak ...more
Marion Nestle inadvertently falls victim to the same reductionist philosophy common in the food industries she criticizes. Michael Pollan calls this "nutritionism" and it's the idea that modern food scientists can reduce what is healthy to some sort of formula. Sorry folks, nutrition science has a long way to go. If you follow the actual scientific literature of nutrition science, you'll find meandering shiftlessness as one year a food or nutrient is bad and the next they find it has no effect o ...more
Oct 24, 2008 Danika rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who cares about food
This book is awesome. What an excellent resource. Marion Nestle, a nutritionist, walks you through a supermarket, aisle by aisle. She talks about organics vs. nonorganics, farmed vs. wild seafood, hormones and antibiotics in meat, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, etc. You name it- she covers it. Lots of really interesting info and I found it absolutely fascinating. Would love to read her older book "Food Politics" as well. It's long- over 500 pages- but a great reference guide.
Chad Warner
Jul 01, 2012 Chad Warner rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chad by: Michael Pollan
Shelves: health, non-fiction
Nestle explains not only the nutritional science behind making healthy food choices, but also explores the economic, political, and environmental considerations. I was looking for nutritional advice, so I skimmed many pages that dealt with the other issues. However, I did find the information on food marketing interesting. Nestle summarizes the scientific research, presents several options, then makes recommendations. There are a few special topics at the end, including baby food, which I haven’ ...more
Feb 12, 2008 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the educated but occasionally baffled grocery shopper
Recommended to Sarah by: Lynne Baer
A down-to-earth, excellently researched look at your local supermarket, aisle by aisle, without any of the preaching you've come to expect from nutritionists. Sure, Nestle's got opinions, but they're the opinions of your grandmother who lives in New York and who wants you to eat, to enjoy what's on your plate to to give everything a taste before you turn up your nose.

And like your sensible grandmother, Nestle's concludes that real, minimally processed foods are better for you than most of what's
It took me a while to get through this-- 524 pages of debate and studies on food, marketing, government, and supermarket tactics-- but it was SO fascinating. She tackles foods one by one, progressing in the order one encounters in a regular supermarket. She talks about the studies and debates about the food (example: eggs. healthy or not? is cage free important? what should laying hens eat? is is important to get eggs from flaxseed fed hens for the higher Omega-3 content? and so forth.) A lot of ...more
Aug 03, 2008 Lesandre rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Lesandre by: friends on GoodReads
Talk about dense; I hung onto this one for over a month to get through it (and incurred some library fees)! It is on the dry side.

Very informative, though somewhat disheartening. Each chapter ended with "Not happy with this? Write to Congress."

As dense as the book is, I wish she hadn't glazed over stevia as a sugar alternative. She said she wouldn't use it, but didn't explain why; she never spoke of the politics of Big Sugar preventing stevia's share of a market (thus allowing it only to be mar
After reading this book, I had the pleasure of meeting Marion Nestle. The company I was working for at the time filmed her in a segment where she walked us through a NY grocery store and helped us figure out "What to Eat". I was disappointed at the selections she made - she was far too forgiving and didn't seem to adhere at all to the principles she outlined in her book. She had an opportunity to make an example out of this grocery store, but instead kept saying "they're doing the best they can. ...more
What this author says is worth listening to. There is a lot going on in this book. It’s quite a read, and I was relieved to come to the last pages. The detail can be daunting. The author is a nutritionist, and follows that line. People may agree or disagree. But for me that wasn’t where the value lay. Although published in 2006 and U.S. based the information is relevant and despite topic & depth the tone is friendly and mostly readable.
I was aware of much of the premise of it but to have so
JPP Smorenburg
What to Eat

A very good down to earth book by nutrition professor Nestle, that takes you on a virtual stroll through a supermarket food department, thoroughly explaining all food sections and the foods in it for strategic placement, nutritional value and non-value.

The goal is to take away the personal uncertainties, worries and bewilderment about food choice that many people have and help you make easy choices to your best advantage. This goal is attained supremely by the author, especially as yo
It should come as no surprise that an academic would write a book about food that sounds . . . well, academic. She's no nonsense, and tells the reader that eating minimally processed foods is the wisest choice one can make if one wants to eat a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet. She educates the reader about the USDA's function (as a lobbyist for big ag), and emphasizes the key role marketers play in selling consumers on a host of factory foods. No one can go wrong eating a diet of whole grai ...more
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Marion Nestle, and I think I'd like to own this book primarily because while it's jam-packed full of interesting, useful information, it's not the most engaging read. I think I'd like having this on the coffee table for casual perusing - rather than as a library book, where I was under time pressure to finish.
There are so many things messed up about the food industry, I think I need to purchase this as a reference. I say this not to frighten, but more as a realization that food choices throughout my life will be laden with compromises, and it's better to be informed.
Russell Anderson
Everything important in this book could have fit on a brochure. As a brochure, it would have been fantastic. As a book, it was like building a sandcastle too close to the water - any postitives were immediately eroded by the fluff.
A refreshing, no-nonsense, no-frills approach to nutrition. The book covers every food item – and the industry itself– that you could think of.
Lynne Granillo
This book about how to make smart food choices has fundamentally changed me for the better. Nestle goes aisle by aisle, addressing common food questions and providing researched, nuanced and well-reasoned answers. From where does all that food at the grocery store come? Is the food industry held accountable to do the right thing for consumers? What do health claims on foods really mean? Is organic better? Is soy safe? Butter or margarine? Bottled or tap water? Wild or farm fish? Are whole grains ...more
I hated to add this to my Couldn't Finish shelf because it is a well-written book, but holy cow, is it depressing (at least to me). I got to page 209 when I realized I just couldn't do it. I have to say What To Eat is almost a deceptive title. The content is incredibly well-researched and she is very clear about why you should eat some stuff. She's an engaging and intelligent writer and she doesn't get pedantic about the whole organic v non-organic or any other food topic du jour. The content do ...more
This book was very informative. It not only provided information for making good nutritional choices, it also provided insight into the societal factors that determine food policy.

I was most surprised to hear how often the government is willing to compromise public health in favor of keeping large food producers and agribusiness happy. On page 149, Nestle states the the USDA's primary function is to "promote sales of American food commodities". Page 162 details how the USDA was unwilling to pro
Nov 09, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
Some months ago I read Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, which, along with other things I've read, provides fairly compelling arguments against blithely eating the same foods I have been.

The main problem with Pollan's book is that it makes the reader want to act, but provides almost no advice. Conveniently, Marion Nestle, an NYU nutrition professor, has written a book that is actually called What to Eat , and it recently came out in paperback.

The book is divided into chapters lik
(I'm marking this book as "read" with the caveat that I will probably always be reading it and will never completely finish it.)

I LOVE THIS BOOK. Marion Nestle is rather fantastic. It is logical, accessible and informative without being preachy and long winded.

Despite what you might infer from the title, this book does not really tell you "what to eat." Instead, Nestle goes through the supermarket and explains why things are where they are, why they look the way they do, and who is responsible
I really enjoyed this book, but it did take me a while to get through it. And I feel like I need to read it again because there are so many facts to remember. I wish I had a better memory because I really enjoyed the scientific explanations about many of the topics in this book.

I do remember that milk in NYC requires a shorter expiration date than most of the rest of the U.S. I never thought about this before, but Nestle explains how difficult it is for delivery trucks to park and deliver milk
Kelly Cooke
I read a lot about food and this is the best book about food I've ever read.

I love Marion Nestle and her frequent comments in the media always catch my eye. She's so reasonable and scientifically-minded, an inspiring consumer advocate, and seems to truly love food. In this book, she takes the reader on a tour of a grocery, aisle-by-aisle, stopping to calmly explain the controversy and research in each. While she is opinionated, she also appears to be free from the agendas that seem to weigh dow
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“BASICS OF DIET AND HEALTH The basic principles of good diets are so simple that I can summarize them in just ten words: eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. For additional clarification, a five-word modifier helps: go easy on junk foods.” 1 likes
“You get a lot more calories for the price of hamburgers and french fries than you do for carrots, not least because the government subsidizes the production of corn and soybeans, the basis of cheap corn sweeteners and vegetable oil.” 0 likes
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