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Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,870 Ratings  ·  2,868 Reviews

Eating doesn't have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food. Written with the clarity, concision and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan's trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set
Paperback, 140 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published December 29th 2008)
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
34th out of 758 books — 1,408 voters
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanIn Defense of Food by Michael PollanThe Dirty Life by Kristin KimballFarm City by Novella Carpenter
Locavore Reading List
9th out of 59 books — 195 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Feb 01, 2012 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it it was ok
Shelves: truthiness
Watch out, folks, this is a variation on the drunken book review called the "my doctor prescribed me syzzurp" review. The M.D.P.M.S. review. An appropriate acronym on so many levels!

So, I have been sick for a month. No exaggeration; a month. I thought I could tough it out like a champ and avoid the combined cost of a doctor's visit, medication, and missing work. That is, until I woke up at 8 this morning with...okay, do you remember that scene in Freddy's Dead: The (totally not final) Final Nig
Mar 01, 2010 Patricia rated it really liked it
A tiny book—I read it in the span of the bus ride downtown to my mother’s house. I wouldn’t pay the $11.00 price for this book, but it was fun to get from the library and read.

Some of my favorite rules:
Avoid foods you see advertised on television
Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
It’s not food if it’s called the same thing in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles.)
Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
The wh
Mar 03, 2010 Molly rated it really liked it
I read this super short book at lunch, upon the recommendation of a gorgeous 72 year old woman who claimed to be married to "the hottest 80 year old you've ever seen." Granted, I read it while eating ramen, but I <3 Michael Pollan and the IDEA of eating well.
Lynne King
Jul 06, 2013 Lynne King rated it really liked it
I have had “The Protein Power Lifeplan” on one of my kitchen shelves for over ten years now and I read it regularly as it gives sound advice on how to eat healthily.

However, when I saw “Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual” and read the review, I knew that I had to have this and purchased it on a whim yesterday. I then decided to briefly look at it on my Kindle with a view to reading it at a future date. Did that happen? No, of course it didn’t. The fates had something else in store for me. I started
David Schaafsma
Mar 12, 2016 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I get the feeling everyone in the world that still reads newspapers in some form knows Michael Pollan's work in some form. He's a journalist who started to make food his thing, wrote the heady Omnivore's Dilemma (that I got for last birthday but since I had not read it and the wife had, she gave it to the used book store and that was okay then, but now I wish I had it to begin reading) and plenty of articles and versions of this book, the first of which came out in maybe 2009?

Anyway, I was a
Mar 08, 2012 Niki rated it it was amazing
This book was a super quick read with 64 "food rules" which each had a paragraph or two explaining them in more detail. It has some great reminders and a few new ideas. Some of my favorites are:

Avoid food products that make health claims (you shouldn't have to advertise how healthly something is), Eat only food that will eventually rot, Treat meat as a flavoring, Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself (fries, ice cream, pies are all harder to make and highly processed, yo
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
My rating is based on a combination of a)the book's content; and b)the book's usefulness to me. The usefulness is what brings it to a higher rating.

I've been studying health and nutrition on my own for many years now, so the content was not new to me. I bought the book to have on hand for motivation and reminders of what I already know. The way the information and "rules" are presented makes it perfect for keeping me on the healthy path. I read the entire book in a little over an hour and marke
Jun 06, 2010 Crystal rated it liked it
This book is an "abridged" version of Pollan's book "In Defense of Food" and gives excellent advice about what to eat and not to eat as far as being natural and healthy. He's not an extremist; but, what he says makes good sense. He advises that if it comes through a car window, it's not food. If your food is made in a plant rather than coming from a plant, you shouldn't eat it. He mentions "edible food-like substances" which is very reminisent of another book I've read in the last couple of year ...more
May 04, 2010 Shelah rated it it was ok
This morning, instead of chowing down on a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Frosted Flakes like I normally do, I reached into the way back of my refrigerator and found a container of greek yogurt. I chased it down with a banana and felt very virtuous. This morning, before hauling myself out of bed, I read Michael Pollan's short, sweet Food Rules, which is basically a distillation of his two other food-related books, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food (in fact, I think pretty much ...more
Alex Shelby
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Some favorite quotes:
"This is why many of the rules in this book are designed to help you avoid heavily processed foods - which I prefer to call "edible foodlike subtances."

"Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry."

"Ethoxylated diglycerides? Cellulose? Xanthan gum? Calcium propionate? Ammonium sulfate? If you wouldn't cook with them yourself, why let others use these ingredients to cook for you?"

"Eat foods m
Moira Russell
Apr 17, 2013 Moira Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, on-the-kindle
I read this (before reading all the reviews here which outlined how short it is, how recycled the material was, &c &c) and was so dissatisfied I returned the Kindle book to Amazon for a refund. Shame on you, Pollan. Shame on you, publishing industry for publishing such a tiny (and expensive) "book." It was like a cross between calendar notes and a blog post. Recommended to no one.
Apr 23, 2015 Nigeyb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The huge number of books and articles written on nutrition, diets and health would suggest achieving a healthy lifestyle is difficult and complex. It’s not. Indeed Michael Pollan has simplified it into seven words…

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

What could be simpler?

You still want more information and insight? Then get Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, a book which can be read in under an hour and expands upon the wisdom of the three simple statements above through 64 rules sorted into the
Steven Peterson
Jan 05, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
Clever little book. . . . Michael Pollan has written a book of rules about eating, with brief text elaborating the statements. On first glance, it looks like a slight volume with little substance to it. However, it turns out to be a pretty interesting book.

In his introductory comments, the author notes a few undeniable truths--Western diets (e.g., processed foods and meats, lots of fat and sugar, etc.) lead to lots of health problems; traditional diets tend to be healthier than the so-called Wes
May 15, 2014 Lori rated it liked it
As an attempt to lose weight through a rather intensive workout regimen and counting calories has not gone as well as hoped, I decided it was time to start looking more at what I am eating, as opposed to monitoring how much. A couple I know recently lost a lot of weight (him 80+ lbs., her 25+) by eating clean. They cut out processed foods and meat. Because of their great success, I just had to ask questions. The number one question for me was whether they had to count their calories while eating ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Dec 12, 2015 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as goldfinch-in-juice

Save yourself some time and go to the source ::

The Anatomy of Melancholy

or, for you fast-paced cyber=junkies, an html all your own!
Feb 05, 2011 John rated it really liked it
If you scan the stacks of your local bookstore, you'll find hundreds of diet & nutrition books, each one written by an "expert" who spouts scientific research to assure you that his book contains the secret to good nutrition.

Although there is a lot of good material out there, they all suffer from two shortcomings: 1) Tunnel vision-- where the author can't see or glosses over other research or perspectives and 2) Lack of Humility-- in not acknowledging how little we really do understand abou
Mar 21, 2010 Todd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Common Sense and Food...Finally

With the over proliferation of diet books and "food wisdom" suffocating our culture Michael Pollan's books are a breath of fresh air. Written as a follow up to The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual is a collection of common sense eating guidelines for people who want to remove themselves from the industrial food chain and move towards a more traditional way of eating actual food. Pollan breaks down his philosophy of eating int
Mar 10, 2010 Kristen rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of Michael Pollan's. Not because I have read any of his books (well, now I've read this--and I'll be reading In Defense of Food), but I've heard him interviewed several times on NPR. He makes so much SENSE!!

I borrowed this book from a friend TODAY (Thanks, Liz), and read it TONIGHT. It's that quick and easy a read.

Basically, it's a list of 64 rules for eating food (not 'edible foodlike substaces, i.e. processed foods, foods containing high fructose corn syrup, etc.). Everything total
Rebecca Schweitzer
Jun 06, 2011 Rebecca Schweitzer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who eat
Shelves: 2011
A very concise little book about what's become of our food and what we really should eat.

The book can be boiled down to seven words and three sections: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Each brief chapter is a food rule with a short explanation. Rules are mostly common sense, but they are a good reminder to pay attention to the food we eat and what's been done to it.

Some example rules:

Eat Food.
"Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
"Avoid foods you see ad
May 18, 2010 GraceAnne rated it it was amazing
What he says and what he writes make sense to me. I try to follow his advice. Actually, I have been striving to do so long before this book. My favorite rule?
Never consume anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
May 22, 2016 Shawn rated it really liked it
Nothing overly insightful, but some good reminders and validation of the smart food choices you're almost determined to start making. Brief and witty. I particularly liked the admonition that real food does not come through your car window, that you should not purchase anything that your great grandmother wouldn't recognize (I see you Go-Gurt), and not to consume anything that is pronounced the same in every language (How do you say Cheetos, Pringles, and Dorito's where you come from?). A quick ...more
Jul 31, 2016 Soplada rated it really liked it
What should we eat?: food.
What kind of food should we eat?: Mostly plants, especially leaves.
How Should we eat?: Not too much.

90% of these rules are new for me, and should be known by all of us. Journalist, Michael Pollan has gather them from cultures and folklore which are proven by science but had been here and there on earth for a long time. a few of them are:

1. Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
2. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
Jun 23, 2014 Kaitlynn rated it did not like it
I was recommended Pollan's books as I am very interested in botany, and picked this one at random. It seemed like a good first choice, as it was a short and quick-looking read that covered a lot of different areas.

What I read was a logical fallacy ridden, anti-science self-help book. It presents some good advice---don't overdo high sugar foods---but also a ton of nonsense. Don't eat anything with preservatives! Vitamin C is a preservative, and last I checked, it was good for us. Don't eat anythi
Dana Stabenow
I remember when I got to the end of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma thinking, "Well, what the hell CAN I eat, then?" Although the mental image of that potato farmer covered in fertilizer did stick, to the point that I started growing my own potatoes, I was pretty much done with Pollan lecturing me on how everything I buy in a supermarket contributes to the destruction of Planet Earth, and will probably give me cancer besides. I can handle bad news, but not with every mouthful.

So I skippe
Indah Threez Lestari
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2011 Lize rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2011
Some truly great advice here, if you didn't already know it. But there were two things I wasn't completely in love with:

1. Is this supposed to be “In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan For Dummies”? Was there a pitch meeting at Penguin books that went, “Okay, what if we just released a separate book that was really a second edition that consisted of all the wisdom of IDOF, but in, like, bullet points? I bet we could sell a ton of them!”? I mean, why go to the trouble of actually reading a book an
Amy Lester
Apr 21, 2010 Amy Lester rated it really liked it
Let's talk about what this book is not. It is not a scientific tome meant to definitively answer all of our food questions. For example, Pollen makes the claim that vegetarians are healthier than carnivores. Actually most of us are omnivores, and he provided no evidence to support this claim. He acknowledges that he is a journalist, not a nutritionist or scientist. It is also not a specific diet plan to follow. The author has a definite bias but the book isn't about eliminating fat, or carbs, or ...more
Apr 29, 2010 Joseph rated it it was amazing
My first experience with Michael Pollan wasn’t a food book, but a book on architecture. I was amazed at how accessible and interesting this journalist could be on a topic that otherwise might not interest me. I suppose that explains why his first book on food – Omnivore’s Dilemma – was real easy to get through: who would have thought that pages and pages of corn could be so interesting.

When his second food book – In Defense of Food – came out, I picked it up in hardback because I was sure I woul
Nov 29, 2011 nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: instructional, 2010
As someone already interested in more conscious eating and practiced in adjusting my own diet to reflect healthier habits (flexitarian, what whatttt), this book reads as a collection of obvious proverbs, but still useful reminders, especially as I've slipped back into some bad habits. That said, FOR ME, this book isn't worth the list price. But for someone else (the gift recipient I have in mind), Pollan's rules might truly be enlightening, as they would have been to me a couple years back (Weig ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Ammar rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
A short book that displays 64 rules on what to eat and how to eat

It's short and sweet

Plenty of common sense which is not common these days

Enjoy fruits and vegetables and cook
Go to the farmer market
Buy fresh food
Buy food with ingredients you can pronounce :)
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Free Books, .99 &...: Michael Pollan's "Food Rules" Book Giveaway!!! 1 7 Feb 23, 2014 02:17PM  
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  • Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair
  • The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
  • In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart
  • The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
  • Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew
  • Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America
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  • Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
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  • Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice
  • Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating
  • Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness
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.
More about Michael Pollan...

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“What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!” 38 likes
“Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is a literal shame, but most of us can: Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, less than the citizens of any other nation. ” 23 likes
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