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What to Eat

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  5,858 ratings  ·  472 reviews
Since its publication in hardcover last year, Marion Nestle's What to Eat has become the definitive guide to making healthy and informed choices about food. Praised as "radiant with maxims to live by" in The New York Times Book Review and "accessible, reliable and comprehensive" in The Washington Post, What to Eat is an indispensable resource, packed with important informa ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by North Point Press (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  5,858 ratings  ·  472 reviews

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Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: foodies, fans of Michael Pollan
Shelves: non-fiction, food
Marion Nestle is a nutritionist and professor. What to Eat is a nicely segmented book of nutrition advice. A lot of the heady political issues are ones I've read before in Fast Food Nation, The Omnivore's Dilemma and others. Nestle has simple overall advice: "eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, go easy on junk foods."
Some other neat bits I picked up from the book:
-avoid farm-raised fish.
-7 eggs a week is pretty much the max
-frozen vegetables are good
-homogenizing milk is a
Mar 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: health-books
If a low-fat, high carb and low-calorie diet makes you feel good and helps you maintain a healthy weight and you just want to refine your regime a tiny bit, then this might be the book for you. It tells you about some of the benefits of eating organic and choosing healthier meats although it does also give terrible advice about taking vitamins and supplements.

If aiming for a low-fat, high carb and low-calorie diet makes you feel awful, hungry and ill - as it does for many of us - and has impeded
Beth Ann
Jul 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: initiates into healthy eating
I must admit I didn't read all of this book. I tried to read all of it, but I gave up.

This book would be good for people who are starting their journey into healthy eating. Nestle basically walks readers through the supermarket aisle-by-aisle detailing her research on what the average consumer can expect to find.

I did learn some ancillary facts about food topics, but I already have read so much about good eating that there wasn't a lot new to me in this book. Plus, I patronize an alternative sup
Jun 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
I tried.
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bridget by: Sarah
Shelves: 2011
What to Eat is the antidote to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Where AVM screeched and keened about how eating certain foods makes us horrible people, What to Eat is an unemotional guide to making informed food choices. I would call this a crash course in nutrition, but 'crash' is not the best word to use. It is a robust, honest-to-goodness course in all things food, with its narrative structured according to the shelves and sections you'd find in a supermarket. When I picked up this book, I was at ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mixture of common sense, logic, nutritional science, and hard data make WHAT TO EAT an eye-opening one time read as well as a handy reference volume. Even the introduction (an easily digestible 15 pages) serves as a wake-up call about the state of food choices in America and should be required reading for every consumer before taking another trip to the supermarket. I had quite a bit of fun with this book and found it to be more whimsical and interactive than I had expected. A number of para ...more
Feb 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the educated but occasionally baffled grocery shopper
Recommended to Sarah by: Lynne Baer
A down-to-earth, excellently researched look at your local supermarket, aisle by aisle, without any of the preaching you've come to expect from nutritionists. Sure, Nestle's got opinions, but they're the opinions of your grandmother who lives in New York and who wants you to eat, to enjoy what's on your plate to to give everything a taste before you turn up your nose.

And like your sensible grandmother, Nestle's concludes that real, minimally processed foods are better for you than most of what's
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-health
Loved this book. It's essentially a reference guide to shopping and eating that's been broken down by food category, so when I got it in the mail and saw how HUGE it is (600+ pages) I thought I'd just end up reading the chapters on food topics that interest me. I ended up reading the entire thing - even the sections on foods that I don't eat or care about (two chapters just about margarine?!?). Nestle is an academic and a nutritionist, but also (thankfully) a great writer. She writes intelligent ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
I think that this was just the wrong kind of food book for me to read. I am more of a "live to eat" type person and this is definitely a "eat to live" kind of book. Each chapter in this book covers a different food: bottled water, seafood, baby food, etc and the author talks about the environmental and health benefits/drawbacks. I found the coverage spotty and the organization confusing - some information is repeated over and over while some stuff is never mentioned. For example - the chapter on ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C by: Michael Pollan
Shelves: non-fiction, health
Nestle explains not only the nutritional science behind making healthy food choices, but also explores the political, economic, and environmental considerations. I was looking for nutritional advice, so I skimmed many pages that dealt with the other issues. However, I did find the information on food marketing interesting. Nestle summarizes the scientific research, presents several options, then makes recommendations. There are a few special topics at the end, including baby food, which I haven’ ...more
I read selected chapters of this book. There is quite a bit of good information in here. This is not a "food fad" book. Marion Nestle seems to be fairy traditional about what is good for you and what is bad for you (in other words, stay on a low fat diet, but I know there's been recent research on that topic that states otherwise). There is so much conflicting information about food out there in books and on the web. I've been trying to navigate my way around all of this information so I can mak ...more
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who cares about food
This book is awesome. What an excellent resource. Marion Nestle, a nutritionist, walks you through a supermarket, aisle by aisle. She talks about organics vs. nonorganics, farmed vs. wild seafood, hormones and antibiotics in meat, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, etc. You name it- she covers it. Lots of really interesting info and I found it absolutely fascinating. Would love to read her older book "Food Politics" as well. It's long- over 500 pages- but a great reference guide.
Mar 04, 2021 rated it did not like it
If you’re contemplating reading this book, I’d say skip it and find one more recent with up-to-date information and research. At the time of publication this may have been revolutionary, but now it seems outdated and filled with common knowledge.

Misleading health claims are abundant down every food aisle, and I appreciate Marion Nestle’s focus on this topic. Statements that some cereals “promote heart health” and sugary yogurts “promote bowel health” mean much less when you know the research wa
Sarah Fournier
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While I've read many many books on nutrition over the years, none gave a comprehensive look at every food type (meats, dairy, prepared foods, fish, wheat, water, produce, eggs etc...) as this book. Focusing on each section of a grocery store, Marion Nestle, a nutritionist and writer, discusses issues concerning marketing, politics, our health and environment. I especially liked her opinions on the difference between farmed fish and wild fish, which I had not previous read in any book before, as ...more
Eve Schaub
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ever the bemused skeptic, Marion Nestle has a mission, her own style, and a wry sense of humor.
Perhaps only the most food obsessed will truly appreciate this tome of everything nutrition, but it is well worth wading into, because readers will be amazed at what they learn about the system, culture, and business of food in our country. An enormous undertaking- taking on the entire American supermarket row by row and breaking down every conceivable food option and what she recommends and why- Nest
Sofia Cavalleri
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Informative, powerful, makes you rethink your everyday choices.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hard to believe that such a comprehensive review of the nutritional value of modern food choices could be such a fun and interesting read!
Trudy Preston
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely not an easy read (it's more of a textbook than anything else), this was nevertheless both an interesting and disturbing book. Nestle (no relation to the Swiss company and her name is actually pronounced "nes-sel") is a nutritionist and author who pulls no punches and thoroughly researched every aspect of the food industry. The subtitle of the book, "An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating," adequately explains what the book is all about. The disturbing part howev ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author takes you on a tour of your local supermarket as she discusses many issues pertinent to the health and safety of food. This is not junk science, but rather a well-researched (50+ pages of footnotes) examination of a multitude of political, environmental, and health issues surrounding food. Prepare to be at the least surprised (and frankly I was astounded) at some of the information. For instance, one-third (!) of all vegetables eaten in the US are in 3 forms - french fries, potato chi ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who feels overwhelmed in the grocery store
Shelves: non-fiction
This book sets out with a lot of ground to cover. Marion Nestle, an accomplished professor of nutrition, takes the reader on an aisle by aisle trip through the grocery store. She touches on every major food group and attempts to answer the question: Why is it so confusing and overwhelming to go grocery shopping? She breaks the book down in sections according to food topic, such as bread, milk, seafood, coffee, etc. There are a lot of details squeezed into each section, but for topics of less int ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This examination of food labels, research and nutrition feels like a magnum opus of modern grocery shopping. 600 pages feels appropriate given the breadth of food options and topics. I am glad I bought the softcover book because it is a handy reference for activism and health and I plan to keep it.

If you want someone to create a list of brands and food to eat, this is not your book. If you want to know more about how to read labels and what to use as decision criteria when shopping, then this i
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to get through this-- 524 pages of debate and studies on food, marketing, government, and supermarket tactics-- but it was SO fascinating. She tackles foods one by one, progressing in the order one encounters in a regular supermarket. She talks about the studies and debates about the food (example: eggs. healthy or not? is cage free important? what should laying hens eat? is is important to get eggs from flaxseed fed hens for the higher Omega-3 content? and so forth.) A lot of ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
After reading this book, I had the pleasure of meeting Marion Nestle. The company I was working for at the time filmed her in a segment where she walked us through a NY grocery store and helped us figure out "What to Eat". I was disappointed at the selections she made - she was far too forgiving and didn't seem to adhere at all to the principles she outlined in her book. She had an opportunity to make an example out of this grocery store, but instead kept saying "they're doing the best they can. ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, as I do respect Marion Nestle's place in the modern food movement pushing back against some of the marketing and corporate interests -- but I couldn't. I felt that she was trying to be fair and thorough, but when faced with difficult or conflicting information, she did what most of us do -- fall back on pat answers and unconscious biases. For example, in her product comparisons, she never questions the 'saturated fat is evil' premise, and often uses it as a final deci ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
A governmental bureaucrat who exhibits his government licenses to support dubious data. A precise case of appeal to authority. And the result is just small cosmetic changes to the orthodoxy promoted by the same governments: anything is good if it helps the lobbies. Hence the need for corn in every meal. To make things worse, Nestle, by holding all those positions can't make a step outside the orthodoxy and he will do anything to support the status quo and his appointments. ...more
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Marion Nestle, and I think I'd like to own this book primarily because while it's jam-packed full of interesting, useful information, it's not the most engaging read. I think I'd like having this on the coffee table for casual perusing - rather than as a library book, where I was under time pressure to finish. ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I think that her heart is in the right place, and I agree with her political stance. However, I don't understand why Nestle continues to insist that a calorie is just a calorie when it pretty much flies in the face of modern science. I recommend why we get fat over this book. Marion needs to get with it and acknowledge the hormone factor in obesity ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Still not sure

After reading this doorstop of a book I’m still not sure “What To Eat”. The book is structured as a trip through the grocery store. Each lengthy essay details the trouble with every single thing we eat. But there’s no resolution. No guidance on how to fix our broken system.
There are so many things messed up about the food industry, I think I need to purchase this as a reference. I say this not to frighten, but more as a realization that food choices throughout my life will be laden with compromises, and it's better to be informed. ...more
Russell Anderson
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Everything important in this book could have fit on a brochure. As a brochure, it would have been fantastic. As a book, it was like building a sandcastle too close to the water - any postitives were immediately eroded by the fluff.
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Marion Nestle, Ph.D, M.P.H., is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is also a professor of Sociology at NYU and a visiting professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University.

Nestle received her BA from UC Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa, after attending school there from 1954-1959. Her degrees include a Ph.D in molecular biology an

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“BASICS OF DIET AND HEALTH The basic principles of good diets are so simple that I can summarize them in just ten words: eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. For additional clarification, a five-word modifier helps: go easy on junk foods.” 5 likes
“The foods that sell best and bring in the most profits are not necessarily the ones that are best for your health, and the conflict between health and business goals is at the root of public confusion about food choices. Where diets get confusing is in the details: so many nutrients, so many foods,” 2 likes
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