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

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
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's review
Oct 17, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: adult, non-fiction

This book was far less groundbreaking than The Omnivore's Dilemma. While the basic premise and advice offered in the book make sense and should be followed, some of the science is dubious at best. At one point Pollen states that 2/3 of American are overweight. While I would agree that there is a weight problem in the U.S.....2/3?!?! On what does he base that statistic. The skewed weight charts on which Hollywood starlets base their diets? And then there is the repeated use of of a phrase which drives me up the wall "The exception that proves the rule." Can you hear my head exploding.

Having vented, I will say that it raises important issues for discussion. Namely that nutritionism and food science should be taken with a grain of salt. That food is meant to be eaten close to it's original form, in great varieties, in moderation and with pleasure. And that "diets" don't work. Lifestyle and perception is what matters.

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Sterling Keli,

Please look at this site: (
for National overweight & obesity statistics and how they are measured. (only took a couple min. to google, "overweight, obesity, statistics, usa")

It helps that I've been interested in nutrition and am almost finished with nursing school.

Apparently excess fat on people in America is at epidemic levels.

I feel The Omnivore's Delemma is an amazing book, and very informative, or would be for those with serious knowledge deficits related to what they should eat and why. Doubtful many of those folks will be reading it anytime soon.

Keli I guess I was a little harsh on the book because I liked The Omnivore's Dilemma so much more. I think there is some good common sense there. But he doesn't at all address our obsession with thin and how harmful that can be. Not to mention the fact that recent studies hint that our weight charts might be skewed to the thin side:

I also get really irked with phrases like "the exception that proves the rule" which he used in both books. And he seemed to ignore that in these traditional societies that he touts as ideal have very heavy middle ages people. (Think Italians or Eastern Europeans.) While there were a lot of points I liked in this book, I'm not willing to accept this book as the end all be all of diet.

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