Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
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Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  24,108 ratings  ·  2,404 reviews

Eating doesn't have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food. Written with the clarity, concision and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan's trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set...more
Paperback, 140 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published December 29th 2008)
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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
38th out of 646 books — 1,210 voters
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9th out of 55 books — 179 voters

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Community Reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Watch out, folks, this is a variation on the drunken book review called the "my doctor prescribed me syzzurp" review. The M.D.P.M.S. review. An appropriate acronym on so many levels!

So, I have been sick for a month. No exaggeration; a month. I thought I could tough it out like a champ and avoid the combined cost of a doctor's visit, medication, and missing work. That is, until I woke up at 8 this morning with...okay, do you remember that scene in Freddy's Dead: The (totally not final) Final Nig...more
It's a good thing I only paid five bucks for this book because I felt a bit gypped after reading it. This is basically In Defense of Food: Lite or, worse, In Defense of Food: Dr. Phil-a-fied. I read it in an afternoon - not because it was so riveting, but because it's only 140 pages long. And that's deceptive: Every other page has a picture of an onion or a pepper or something on it, so that cuts it down to 70 pages, and several of the non-onion pages only have a snippet of text on them, so that...more
Lynne King
I have had “The Protein Power Lifeplan” on one of my kitchen shelves for over ten years now and I read it regularly as it gives sound advice on how to eat healthily.

However, when I saw “Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual” and read the review, I knew that I had to have this and purchased it on a whim yesterday. I then decided to briefly look at it on my Kindle with a view to reading it at a future date. Did that happen? No, of course it didn’t. The fates had something else in store for me. I started...more
I read this super short book at lunch, upon the recommendation of a gorgeous 72 year old woman who claimed to be married to "the hottest 80 year old you've ever seen." Granted, I read it while eating ramen, but I <3 Michael Pollan and the IDEA of eating well.
This book was a super quick read with 64 "food rules" which each had a paragraph or two explaining them in more detail. It has some great reminders and a few new ideas. Some of my favorites are:

Avoid food products that make health claims (you shouldn't have to advertise how healthly something is), Eat only food that will eventually rot, Treat meat as a flavoring, Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself (fries, ice cream, pies are all harder to make and highly processed, yo...more
A tiny book—I read it in the span of the bus ride downtown to my mother’s house. I wouldn’t pay the $11.00 price for this book, but it was fun to get from the library and read.

Some of my favorite rules:
Avoid foods you see advertised on television
Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
It’s not food if it’s called the same thing in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles.)
Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
The wh...more
My rating is based on a combination of a)the book's content; and b)the book's usefulness to me. The usefulness is what brings it to a higher rating.

I've been studying health and nutrition on my own for many years now, so the content was not new to me. I bought the book to have on hand for motivation and reminders of what I already know. The way the information and "rules" are presented makes it perfect for keeping me on the healthy path. I read the entire book in a little over an hour and marke...more
This book is an "abridged" version of Pollan's book "In Defense of Food" and gives excellent advice about what to eat and not to eat as far as being natural and healthy. He's not an extremist; but, what he says makes good sense. He advises that if it comes through a car window, it's not food. If your food is made in a plant rather than coming from a plant, you shouldn't eat it. He mentions "edible food-like substances" which is very reminisent of another book I've read in the last couple of year...more
Michael Pollan presents some common sense rules about eating that will make you take stock of your own eating habits. Most of them are just common sense: "Eat Real Food" "If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're probably not hungry" "Treat Treats as Treats"

In this new edition, Pollan asked Maira Kalman to illustrate these "rules" in her funky, homey style. The book isn't very deep, but it's fun to look at, and it does remind the reader to think about the kind of food that's best to ea...more
This morning, instead of chowing down on a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Frosted Flakes like I normally do, I reached into the way back of my refrigerator and found a container of greek yogurt. I chased it down with a banana and felt very virtuous. This morning, before hauling myself out of bed, I read Michael Pollan's short, sweet Food Rules, which is basically a distillation of his two other food-related books, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food (in fact, I think pretty much...more
As an attempt to lose weight through a rather intensive workout regimen and counting calories has not gone as well as hoped, I decided it was time to start looking more at what I am eating, as opposed to monitoring how much. A couple I know recently lost a lot of weight (him 80+ lbs., her 25+) by eating clean. They cut out processed foods and meat. Because of their great success, I just had to ask questions. The number one question for me was whether they had to count their calories while eating...more
Steven Peterson
Clever little book. . . . Michael Pollan has written a book of rules about eating, with brief text elaborating the statements. On first glance, it looks like a slight volume with little substance to it. However, it turns out to be a pretty interesting book.

In his introductory comments, the author notes a few undeniable truths--Western diets (e.g., processed foods and meats, lots of fat and sugar, etc.) lead to lots of health problems; traditional diets tend to be healthier than the so-called Wes...more
Common Sense and Food...Finally

With the over proliferation of diet books and "food wisdom" suffocating our culture Michael Pollan's books are a breath of fresh air. Written as a follow up to The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual is a collection of common sense eating guidelines for people who want to remove themselves from the industrial food chain and move towards a more traditional way of eating actual food. Pollan breaks down his philosophy of eating int...more
Rebecca Schweitzer
Jun 06, 2011 Rebecca Schweitzer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who eat
Shelves: 2011
A very concise little book about what's become of our food and what we really should eat.

The book can be boiled down to seven words and three sections: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Each brief chapter is a food rule with a short explanation. Rules are mostly common sense, but they are a good reminder to pay attention to the food we eat and what's been done to it.

Some example rules:

Eat Food.
"Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
"Avoid foods you see ad...more
Moira Russell
I read this (before reading all the reviews here which outlined how short it is, how recycled the material was, &c &c) and was so dissatisfied I returned the Kindle book to Amazon for a refund. Shame on you, Pollan. Shame on you, publishing industry for publishing such a tiny (and expensive) "book." It was like a cross between calendar notes and a blog post. Recommended to no one.
What he says and what he writes make sense to me. I try to follow his advice. Actually, I have been striving to do so long before this book. My favorite rule?
Never consume anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
If you scan the stacks of your local bookstore, you'll find hundreds of diet & nutrition books, each one written by an "expert" who spouts scientific research to assure you that his book contains the secret to good nutrition.

Although there is a lot of good material out there, they all suffer from two shortcomings: 1) Tunnel vision-- where the author can't see or glosses over other research or perspectives and 2) Lack of Humility-- in not acknowledging how little we really do understand abou...more
Dana Stabenow
I remember when I got to the end of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma thinking, "Well, what the hell CAN I eat, then?" Although the mental image of that potato farmer covered in fertilizer did stick, to the point that I started growing my own potatoes, I was pretty much done with Pollan lecturing me on how everything I buy in a supermarket contributes to the destruction of Planet Earth, and will probably give me cancer besides. I can handle bad news, but not with every mouthful.

So I skippe...more
Some truly great advice here, if you didn't already know it. But there were two things I wasn't completely in love with:

1. Is this supposed to be “In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan For Dummies”? Was there a pitch meeting at Penguin books that went, “Okay, what if we just released a separate book that was really a second edition that consisted of all the wisdom of IDOF, but in, like, bullet points? I bet we could sell a ton of them!”? I mean, why go to the trouble of actually reading a book an...more
I'm a fan of Michael Pollan's. Not because I have read any of his books (well, now I've read this--and I'll be reading In Defense of Food), but I've heard him interviewed several times on NPR. He makes so much SENSE!!

I borrowed this book from a friend TODAY (Thanks, Liz), and read it TONIGHT. It's that quick and easy a read.

Basically, it's a list of 64 rules for eating food (not 'edible foodlike substaces, i.e. processed foods, foods containing high fructose corn syrup, etc.). Everything total...more
Amy Lester
Let's talk about what this book is not. It is not a scientific tome meant to definitively answer all of our food questions. For example, Pollen makes the claim that vegetarians are healthier than carnivores. Actually most of us are omnivores, and he provided no evidence to support this claim. He acknowledges that he is a journalist, not a nutritionist or scientist. It is also not a specific diet plan to follow. The author has a definite bias but the book isn't about eliminating fat, or carbs, or...more
My first experience with Michael Pollan wasn’t a food book, but a book on architecture. I was amazed at how accessible and interesting this journalist could be on a topic that otherwise might not interest me. I suppose that explains why his first book on food – Omnivore’s Dilemma – was real easy to get through: who would have thought that pages and pages of corn could be so interesting.

When his second food book – In Defense of Food – came out, I picked it up in hardback because I was sure I woul...more
As someone already interested in more conscious eating and practiced in adjusting my own diet to reflect healthier habits (flexitarian, what whatttt), this book reads as a collection of obvious proverbs, but still useful reminders, especially as I've slipped back into some bad habits. That said, FOR ME, this book isn't worth the list price. But for someone else (the gift recipient I have in mind), Pollan's rules might truly be enlightening, as they would have been to me a couple years back (Weig...more
Aug 07, 2011 Courtney rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I love Michael Pollan and I love everything he writes. I want to take control of the chaos that has become my eating and not in a calorie-cutting h8mythighs-dieting way. In a sustainable, healthful, life changing way.

Because America needs some sort of wake up call in the way it approaches food. Something is very very wrong when there are morbidly obese 8 year olds and more than 50% of our country is overweight and we eat 1 in 5 meals in our car and it costs less to buy a Big Mac than a head of...more
I'd heard Michael Pollan's "eat food, not too much, mostly plants" quote many times, and have meant to read his books. So, when I saw this 64-point, 90-something page condensed version of his work available as an e-book download from my library last night, I snagged it and read it within a couple of hours. Simple, sensible, mostly familiar stuff. Easy to put into practice? No, not for me. Following his rules is something to aspire to though, and I appreciate that he broke it down to the essentia...more
Robb Terranova (aka Robb Michael G)
Another book by Michael Pollan about food. Actually, this book is about eating. Its 83 rules that form an "eater's manual' of healthy living.

Not all that long ago I was 60 pounds overweight. I was pre-diabetic and probably only a feather away from being Type-2. Over the next four years I made up some rules for myself, lifestyle changes, diet changes; but I never "went on a diet." It took four years, but slowly - roughly a pound a month - I lost that weight.

I picked up this book after hearing an...more
I was recommended Pollan's books as I am very interested in botany, and picked this one at random. It seemed like a good first choice, as it was a short and quick-looking read that covered a lot of different areas.

What I read was a logical fallacy ridden, anti-science self-help book. It presents some good advice---don't overdo high sugar foods---but also a ton of nonsense. Don't eat anything with preservatives! Vitamin C is a preservative, and last I checked, it was good for us. Don't eat anythi...more
Mandy Kotter
I really loved this short book that gives simple, common-sense rules for how to eat. One of my favorites -- if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. I just liked that this book isn't someone with a biased viewpoint trying to get me to swear off dairy or carbs or some particularly "bad" food group but instead to think about what I eat and where it comes from. It has changed the way I want to feed my family.
Lilly G
This book is a shorthand reminder of the "best of" health wisdom with regard to eating. Why is it good and popular? Because we usually don't listen. The message is delivered with simplicity, which may be what makes it a quick and compelling read. And if you can focus more on the eat salads stuff vs. the "desserts are ok if..." parts it might actually work!
While Pollan doesn't ignore science, he chooses to disregard scientific jargon in this manual, instead looking at the cultural food rules that keep us healthy. It's easy to read and understand which is definitely a bold 180 from THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA which was much too dense for me to be able to read through with much understanding.
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Book Giveaways: Michael Pollan's "Food Rules" Book Giveaway!!! 1 5 Feb 23, 2014 02:17PM  
  • Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes
  • Real Food: What to Eat and Why
  • Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It
  • What to Eat
  • The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
  • Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food
  • Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally
  • Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
  • Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food
  • Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair
  • Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
  • Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces
  • The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health
  • Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto--The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest
  • Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide
  • Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking
  • The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
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...
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

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“What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!” 36 likes
“Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is a literal shame, but most of us can: Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, less than the citizens of any other nation. ” 18 likes
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