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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  89,297 Ratings  ·  7,178 Reviews
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, c ...more
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Published January 7th 2009 by Penguin Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2007)
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Kimball Because Scott Brick was the narrator for the audio book and I hate that guy. Worst narrator ever.
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Virginia Messina
Feb 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Actually, there is enough good material in this book that it probably warrants another star or two. But I was so alarmed at the amount of misinformation here that one star is the best I can do.

Michael Pollan is right about some of the big stuff. Nutrition research is badly flawed. It has sometimes led us down the wrong road (although it has also provided life-saving findings). The government is far too slow to change its recommendations and has strong ties (to put it mildly) to the food industr
E.A. Quinn
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Buddhist tradition there is a level of hell whereby the dead, known as hungry ghosts, are trapped with enormous stomachs and tiny throats unable to swallow anything but the smallest bites of food. Their particular brand of torture is that they are always eating and yet their hunger is never satisfied. These hungry ghosts sound an awful lot like the modern American eater trapped in the unhealthy western diet demonized in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

You may be
I am conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I agree with Pollan's thesis: food science has not served us well over the past 100 years, and we really should "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I believe that partially because of Pollan's arguments, and the revelatory reporting he did for The Omnivore's Dilemma, but mostly because I've studied biology, and have at least a limited idea of how complex human bodies and human food can be, and how evolution may not have prepared us for Twin ...more
I hated reading this book. And that's sad because I agree with his basic premise. Just eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants. And I would add, try and get off your ass once in awhile. But this book was excrutiating to read. I read the first 50 pages, gave up, and went to the last section on his very basic food rules, gave up again. His language was all black and white with blanket condemnations and blanket recommendations, ironic since that's what he condemns in scientific thinking and food ...more
Jason Koivu
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, food
Books like this make me afraid to eat. Then they make me mad at the way I've been eating. Finally, they make me a better eater.

At the start, the idea seems simple: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." When I read that I thought, okay I can stop reading. I know that already, so I've got this shit down.

But what is food today? It may not be what you think it is. Most of what you find at the grocer's is not food. That complicates things just a little bit, doesn't it?

Pollan complicates that sim
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-nutrition
One of the more pernicious aspects of nutritionism is that it encourages us to blame our health problems on lifestyle choices, implying that the individual bears ultimate responsibility for whatever illnesses befall him. It’s worth keeping in mind that a far more powerful predictor of heart disease than either diet or exercise is social class.
Pollan contends that Western society has replaced our relationship with food to a relationship with nutrition, to our great loss. Science has sought to f
Michael Pollan is absolutely on to something with his central thesis; namely, that the American diet has been taken over by "edible foodlike substances" (ie, hyper-processed foods) and the American approach to health as it relates to eating has been taken over by "nutritionism" (ie, the idea that food is nothing more than the sum of its nutrient parts). He makes an excellent case that the current epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. are the inevitable result of this perverse relat ...more
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most remarkable meals I’ve ever eaten was here - Now, Dunkeld is a long way to go for a meal, even if you do live in Melbourne – and a ten course meal served over many hours with matching wines that costs an arm and three toes possibly isn’t something everyone would think of as value for money. However, unlike the said value for money meals I will never forget the evening I spent at this restaurant. Fantastic food, remarkable wines and delight ...more
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am deeply ashamed, depressed, and embarrassed by the fact that such a book as Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food need be written, much less published, critically acclaimed, and enjoyed by someone such as myself. Pollan himself acknowledges the perverse state of affairs saying, “That one should feel the need to mount a defense of ‘the meal’ is sad, but then I never would have thought ‘food’ needed defending, either.”

We should be collectively mortified as a culture because though Pollan greets
Jan 03, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment, culture, food
Last night, I watched Pollan -- who looks just like one of my uncles -- on TV promoting this book. Something wonderful and empowering he said: the food industry pays very close attention to what consumers want.

In fact, they're terrified of us.

For instance, it only took a little over 100 concerned McDonald's customers writing to ask if it were true that the chain served genetically modified potatoes -- that was enough
to get the issue on the agenda at their shareholders' meeting.

Another example
"Eat food. Not much. Mostly Plants."

This pretty much encapsulates the book. When Pollan speaks of "food" he refers to things that can be grown, not things that are manufactured. The "mostly plants" refers to mostly fruits and leaves not seeds. He also recommends this for your meat. In other words, try to consume animals that were raised on real food (grass fed cows). Pollan throws lots of interesting facts about the food we consume and its origins. He is not a fan of "nutritionism" or the nature
Jul 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a huge fan of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, (see review here) but only a big fan of In Defense of Food. The first two sections of Defense, “The Age of Nutritionism,” and “The Western Diet and Diseases of Civilization” fit perfectly with Omnivore’s posture of investigative journalism. While Omnivore included Pollan as a character, it came across as a non-biased, or relatively low-biased, intro to the foodstuffs served across America. The first two sections of Defense adhere to this eve ...more
Jul 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food might best be described as a book which fares best when judged by its cover. Below the title, a reader finds some dietary advice which is not a bad place to start: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." There are a few good ideas inside the book, too. It would be easy not to look much deeper, as Pollan's prose is so lively that most readers won't want to stop and give things a closer look. However, the reader who does bother to check the details sees that In ...more
Patrice Hoffman
I'm not sure I need to review Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Chances are the person who bought this book is looking to find out what about food needs defending. It appears everything. I came across this book because of my Sociology class in explaining how the economy and current food structures continue to lead to systematic oppression or maintain an the imbalance of wealth, inequality in this country.

Firstly, in reference to defending food, it is actual food that ne
Feb 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
**My full review is posted on my blog at:

Michael Pollan summarizes his latest book, published January 2008, on the cover and in just seven words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He admits on the very first page that he has pretty much "given the game away" with that summary, but that he plans to complicate matters a bit in the interest of "keeping things going for a couple hundred more pages." Since I began the book at the start of a four hour bus ride
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Thanks for the reminder to update, Ethan!

This book was really eye opening. I think (or thought) of myself as having a pretty healthy diet-- I have the whole wheat blend flaxseed enhanced pasta, the total cereal with nonfat soy milk, the bran muffins and the fish oil capsules.

I AM A DUPE! I've been sucked into the cult of "nutritionism" as Pollans calls it, the belief that what's healthy about the food are the identified micronutrients it contains, and that foods are either healthful elixers or n
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Certainly good advice, but unfortunately, Michael Pollan should have stopped there.

Ugh...what a huge disappointment. This is a perfect example of why journalists should not give nutritional advice or write these kinds of books.

Pollan starts out by stating the obvious, but then quickly learns what many nutritional professionals and public health advocates do, the obvious isn't sexy and it certainly doesn't make a bestseller. As a result the chapters that fol
Fabio Bracht
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esse livro é uma absoluta revelação! Eu quero plantar couve, comer fruta depois dela já não estar mais tão bonita, ir na feira só pra olhar as comidas todas. Eu penso em Cheetos e Coca-Cola e quero distância. Comida boa é comida boa!

Empolgação à parte, recomendo esse livro a todo mundo que já se pegou parado entre as prateleiras no meio do supermercado, pensando, "eu gostaria de comer de maneira mais saudável, mas é tão difícil!"

Não é, amigo. Parece que é porque o mundo (e particularmente o su
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Those are the first sentences of Michael Pollan's delightful little book In Defense of Food. In fact, as Pollan himself admits, there's not much more to it than that. So, how to fill up a whole book when those three first sentences tell it all?

Well, as simple as that advice seems, the first sentence is more complicated than it may appear. Eat food. Sure. Of course. What else would we eat? But as we all know and often try not to think too much about -- what
Aug 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of the idea behind this whole 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge was to branch out into genres and topics that I might not normally try. While I haven't read anything about perky single British chicks trying to make it on their own and find love in the big city or perky single British vampire chicks trying to fight crime and find love in the big city, this book by Michael Pollen about nutrition and eating well does signal a bit of a departure for me.

Pollen's manifesto here isn't actually that m
A well-written book that was also perfectly narrated by Scott Brick. And, I can think of no more succinct summation than that which my sister-in-law typed to me "The Carrot> carotene." Pollan makes an excellent argument that food science is really in its infancy (and much more complex than *I* ever gave it credit for) but that what we need to focus on the whole food- a balanced, traditional meal, rather than worry about hitting our macro-nutrients each day

This book didn’t tell me anything tha
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the most healthy person I know (Kaitlyn O'Malley) recommended this book to me and told me it was the one book that really changed what she ate and how she thought about food, I knew I had to read it. And I loved it and felt much the same way. So thanks, Kaitlyn - I really appreciate it!

I believe everyone should read this book. Michael Pollan's advice, "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much" is just brilliant and is explained in great detail throughout the book. I knew of this saying before
Jackie "the Librarian"
Covering similar ground to his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan discusses ways to eat healthily despite a marketplace flooded with over-processed food and food-like products. He makes a very convincing case that food science has been oversimplified into "nutritionism", which reduces the idea of food to its component nutrients. The problem is that we still don't know everything that food does, and cannot adequately replace it by artificial means.
Even fresh food is suffering from this simplifi
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’

This seems to be my summer of food. I'm in a CSA. I ordered the large family size to push myself into preserving the food. It's more food than I can eat. I give it away to almost everyone who visits. And I love it. It's the best deal I've ever gotten with food. I only hope that I can continue to give it away before it spoils.

Also the last three books I've read have all been about food. And in someways -- they've merged together. Between reading these boo
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Michael Pollan's succinct dietary advice is so simple it's practically insulting, but thanks to a combination of bad science and government influence, Americans are more confused than ever about how and what to eat. Our ancestors wouldn't recognize most of the "food" we eat today, things like refined pasta fortified with omega-3s or diet soda spiked with vitamins. By refining and processing our food and trying to add the nutrients back in, the modern food ...more
Just finished it. Loved it. I borrowed this copy, which is a shame as I would have highlighted it, I shall have to buy my own copy and highlight it.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

This is the message of the book, brilliant in its simplicity. I plan to get a big poster made up and hung in the kitchen/dining area. I wholeheartedly agree with everything written.

The first half of the book talks about what is wrong with our western food culture. The second half of the books discusses some loose
Kevin Kelsey
Short and poignant, but very powerful. This is going to not only change what/how I eat, but my whole relationship with food. Everyone should read this.
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's possible that this book should be rated lower. I found it difficult to tell since I've read almost all of Pollan's other work at this point. Is this a rehash or an addition? In Defense of Food is maybe redundant for anyone who has already read Omnivore and maybe watched a couple online interviews with the author.

The core argument here is that many people know very little about food due to nutritional science, which coopted TK (traditional knowledge) too early and was then codified into law
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm suspicious of my motivation to read this book. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with wanting to be congratulated on my eating habits.

Well, having now finished it, I'm mostly right about that. Congratulations, self. But I also learned a lot, particularly a theory about how Americans think about food that seems utterly true for the majority of my friends and family. Which is that people don't think, "Hey, I'm eating a banana, yum!" they think, "Whoa, too much sugar, not enough protein,
Vimal Thiagarajan
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess Michael Pollan and Nassim Nicholas Taleb are sure to get along very well if they ever meet. Both are expert expert-bashers, though they ply their trade in contrasting styles. While Taleb is on the face and abrasive, Pollan is more subtle and gradual.

In this book he attacks nutritionism-the science or rather the ideology of breaking down foods into their constituent nutrients in order to assess their benefits to the eater.It is a lamentation of how food marketing, with sufficient help fro
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Our Traveling Shelf: In Defense of Food Thoughts 4 7 Mar 01, 2017 08:53AM  
  • Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
  • Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It
  • Real Food: What to Eat and Why
  • Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes
  • Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food
  • Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally
  • Stuffed And Starved: Markets, Power And The Hidden Battle For The World Food System
  • Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair
  • The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter
  • The End of Food
  • Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
  • Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet
  • Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating
  • Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
  • Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
  • Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood
  • Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
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.
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“You are what what you eat eats.” 766 likes
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 554 likes
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