Raisu's Reviews > In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
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's review
Jul 01, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, read-in-2010, essays, cooking, contemporary
Read in July, 2010

I was under the impression that Pollan was a smug, judgmental vegan guru. In point of fact, he's really none of those things. This book is about why we no longer eat food but rather consume nutrients, and how to change that. He's very readable and down to earth. His case against big business, bad science and their marriage seems strong. However, I think I remain slightly unconvinced by his historical analysis. I'd have to reread to make sure, but there seems to be aspects to the change of eating habits which can't be explained by the influence of nutritionism. Granted, I read the book fast, so maybe I missed something. Another thing that made me only like the book as opposed to loving it, was that for all his talk against reductionism, he takes some rather nice stabs at it himself. For example, he speculates that omega-6 rich foods could explain why western way of eating is so popular all around the world, replacing the healthier traditional diets. I know he can't think that's the sole reason behind the popularity of "American" food, but it would have been nice to see it spelled out.

There could have been more notes, but the bibliography and index were good.

Also, this book made me realize the absolute insanity of the fact that I live in a place where I can literally (and I am using that word right here) see orchards and oat fields whenever I go for a ten minute walk, yet have no means of buying locally produced food.

Oh, and seeing as I tend to be deeply distrustful of "tradition" and "common sense", Pollan almost lost me during Introduction. However, his engaging style kept me reading, and I'm glad I did. His argument for trusting those two when it comes to food is pretty good, or so it seemed to me at least.

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