In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

By Michael Pollan (Penguin, 2008)

In 2006, Michael Pollan wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma to address “orthorexia,” an unhealthy obsession with “healthy” eating that has become a widespread phenomenon in American culture. He attributed our chronic confusion about what we should eat to a climate of “nutritionism”: a science-based view of food that largely ignores the time-tested wisdom of tradition and pleasure. His new book helps demystify both nutritionism and the industrial food system, offering straightforward guidance about how to develop a broader food perspective — for the benefit of our bodies and the food industry as a whole. His “manifesto” is simple: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Fleshing out that advice, Pollan zeroes in on the important differences between actual “food” and “food-like products,” and explains where the former can be most readily found: along the outside aisles of the grocery store, at the farmers’ market, in your garden and so on. He also serves up plenty of sensible advice, like “only eat food that can rot” and “don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” If you’re striving to eat better (without succumbing to orthorexia), this highly readable book offers refreshingly commonsense advice.

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