P.J. Sullivan's Reviews > In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
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's review
Apr 09, 11

bookshelves: health, natural-healing
Recommended for: people with weight problems
Read in November, 2009

Eat food, says Michael Pollan. Real food, not imitation food. Not foodlike creations of food science. Not disembodied nutrients. Eat whole food, if you can find it, because it is more than the sum of its parts. This is good advice. The main cause of obesity is food processing by the "Nutritional Industrial Complex." We don't need "well-balanced meals" supervised by professional nutritionists. All we need is real food.

He discusses the economic and political angles of the food processing and marketing industries and asks, "When will the doctors kick the fast-food franchises out of the hospitals?" Powerful lobbies in Washington influence food "science," which is ideology anyway, not real science. The Western diet is a disaster because real food is disappearing from supermarket shelves and being replaced by chemical concoctions "elaborately festooned with health claims." Beware of foods that make health claims.

If the latest food science really knows better than Mother Nature, why don't babies thrive on infant formulas? Why does margarine cause more health problems than butter? Why does nutritional equivalence never seem to work? He discusses dietary fats, which might not be as bad as claimed by the lipid hypothesis. Fat is not a toxin, he says; don't be afraid of the real fats in real foods.

You don't need to read this book if you are already knowledgeable about food. There is not a lot here that is new or revolutionary. Read it if you are at all confused about what to eat. Read it if you are concerned about the degradation of the Western diet. Read it if you are obese and don't understand how you got that way.


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Quotes P.J. Liked

Michael Pollan
“Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.”
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

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