What to Eat
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What to Eat

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  3,621 ratings  ·  387 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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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...more
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...more
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...more
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...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
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
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
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...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
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...more
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
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.
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...more
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 like...more
(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...more
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...more
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...more
So it took a while to get through this book but I am glad that I did. It is much like textbook reading. Food is not an easy subject for discussion and Nestle takes on all aspects of the food industry - from nutrition to marketing and I loved it. More and more I am incorporating an "eat well" mentality into my food choices. I can't wait for the farmer's market to open and for when I can make another attempt at growing some veggies on the deck. Toward the very end Nestle says, "Eating well is not...more
This is the one nutrition book to replace all others. Most books stick to dry facts. They drown you in numbers (calories, portions) and often promote the author's pet premise (veganism, esoteric diets). This book, formatted engagingly as a trip through a supermarket, is both factual and humorous. Nestle gives you options, and reasons for those options. She doesn't hesitate to explore issues directly or indirectly related to nutrition, such as media advertising and the careful placement of goods...more
Nov 02, 2009 Trena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Savvy Supermarket Shoppers
At the beginning of this book, Marion Nestle says that she's not going to tell you what to eat. Instead, she examines the shelves of a typical American supermarket (produce, meat, fish, dairy, frozen, prepared foods, bakery, cereal, etc etc) and thoroughly researches and discusses the goods and bads to be found therein. At the beginning, I liked the idea that she wasn't going to prescribe a rigid diet. By the end, I was pretty much afraid to put anything in my mouth other than organic fruits and...more
Interesting and possibly more of a good reference book than something you want to wade through, but still, very readable - good information, but also interesting ideas. I appreciated her approach - losing weight involves eating less, exercising more, but she acknowledged that this is not always as easy as it sounds. I most enjoyed her 'analysis' of the food industry and its control over our diet and choices about what to eat. A bit scary, actually, but shows how important education is - not just...more
Oct 09, 2008 Alice rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: food conscious adults
Recommended to Alice by: Book club friend
This was an interesting take from a nutritionist's view about the foods we as Americans find in our supermarkets. How did it get there and what's worth eating. She also wrote Food Politics, which I haven't read, but would have found it to be an appropriate name for this book had I not know that book already existed.

Nestle does not explicitly tell you what to eat, but does on rare occasion offer examples of what she herself eats. I find that her own strong political viewpoint reads loud and clear...more
This book is a great reference for anyone who cares about what they eat, although a lot of it is common sense. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, try to buy organic, exercise more, don't eat out too much. If you consider yourself already fairly informed about organics, food politics, and nutrition, this may be a bit rudimentary, but it is still a well written, to the point, non-preachy book worth having on your shelf. It's perfect if you are just beginning to look into this stuff, although since...more
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“The foods that sell best and bring in the most profits are not necessarily the ones that are best for your health, and the conflict between health and business goals is at the root of public confusion about food choices. Where diets get confusing is in the details: so many nutrients, so many foods,” 0 likes
“Unbelievable as it may seem, one-third of all vegetables consumed in the United States come from just three sources: french fries, potato chips, and iceberg lettuce.” 0 likes
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