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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  103,528 ratings  ·  7,865 reviews
Michael Pollan's last book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, launched a national conversation about the American way of eating; now In Defense of Food shows us how to change it, one meal at a time. Pollan proposes a new answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan's bracing and eloqu ...more
Hardcover, 205 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Penguin Press
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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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Ginny Messina
Feb 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-nutrition
Michael Pollan - image from his site

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
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: snoot, food, learning, eating
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
Shelves: food, favorites
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
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Cathrine ☯️
4 🍎 🍇 🍷 🥑
Another informative, entertaining audio on my lake walks.
Included in his final recommendations of what to consume ➖ a glass of wine with dinner. 😁
I really like this guy.
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Diane S ☔
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
Thoughts soon.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
"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
Jan 03, 2008 marked it as to-read
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 exampl
Jul 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Patrice Hoffman
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it liked it
**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
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"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
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 that I
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one in one day and I think if I had taken my time I may have gotten more out of it. I don't think there was much in it that I didn't already know or that was surprising to hear, but it was still interesting and made sense.

I know my current diet isn't my best and I can certainly feel a difference when I'm eating well versus eating whatever is available or quick. This book certainly made me think that it's time to get back to eating basics.

I think this book is worth a read. It's not
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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,
Andrej Karpathy
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book really changed the way I look at food and will certainly lead to changes in my eating habits.

I didn't want to ruin life for my older self (as I found out, almost all most serious western diseases can be attributed to mostly nutrition) so I resolved to drill down into nutrition science over the last few weeks in an attempt to identify a healthy diet. I've skimmed several books, read a number of articles, a few papers, blogs and so on, but it was all a trip down the rabbit hole of compl
Viktoria Tomcheva
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Buy this book, learn it, live it, tell your loved ones.
Pollan summarizes his advice in 7 words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. “Eat food” turns out to be more complicated than it seems. Most of the “food” eaten in the Western Diet is processed food, junk that Pollan deems unworthy of the moniker “food” and calls “edible food-like substances” instead.Real food would be recognized by your great-grandmother and can rot. Processed food is easy to spot because it is “loud” due to TV ads and s
Aug 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Camelia Rose
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, essays, food, audio
"Eat food; not too much; mostly plants." is what consisted in Michael Pollan's Eater's Manifesto. For what he truly means, one must read the entire book. In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan tells the dark side of global food industry, the flawed nutrient studies, and the inadequate scientific understanding of nutrients. He is skeptical about "nutritionism", where food is reduced to its nutrients and nutrients are arbitrarily divided into good and bad camps. He thinks food is more than the sum of ...more
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
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"
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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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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