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

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
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's review
Apr 03, 2012

really liked it

We are so bombarded by mixed marketing messages from endless forms of media: TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Each year brings some sort of new trend or fad in healthy eating or dieting and the multi-billion dollar food industry follows suit. In an era when we, Americans, are utterly confused and obsessed when it comes to eating healthily, Pollan makes it quite simple for us.

Pollan spends the beginning of the book telling us why nutrition research is a bunch of crock. His basic message is that both food and the human body are incredibly complex. Research tends to try to isolate some sort of nutrient to understand its effect on the body and it just can’t be done. It is flawed and we can only take it with a grain of salt.

He also explains the effects of a Western diet when people adopt it. The effects have been heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In cultures with a traditional diet, people have had no history of these diseases until they start adopting a Western diet.

A huge portion of the Western diet is processed food which the food industry has tried to incorporate whatever nutrient is in vogue. If it’s low-fat, low-cholesterol, and high in antioxidants – whatever it is – the food industry will find a way to put it in. This shouldn’t be this way! Why should we trust these food companies in really knowing what they are doing? If there are labels and messaging to claim its health benefits, we should be assured that it is not health for us. When has an apple or banana needed a label to proclaim its health benefits to us?

He further emphasizes that the whole environment in which the plant or animal has been raised and cultivated has a huge effect on us humans, being the ones to ultimately consume it. From the type of fertilizer to what the animal has eaten, it all has an impact on us. Both the nutrition and the toxins are magnified by the time we eat the product. It is a complex food web and we need to consider where and what conditions our food has come from.

He expounds a simple way of eating: Eat Food, Not Too Much, and Mostly Plants. He defines exactly what he means and certain rules to follow. It all makes a lot of sense. I like how he doesn’t give any sort of meal plan or go into lengths about a diet. It also made me realize that I’ve been too concerned with my grocery bills. Eating well and healthy not only can be more expensive but it also takes more time. Anything worth having, namely our health, is worth it whether we have to sacrifice money or time.

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