Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food was somewhat revolutionary when it first came out in 2008, but thanks to the glory that is the internet, his ideas spread quickly. When I finally got around to reading it in 2015, there wasn’t much that seemed earth shattering about eating. I mean, processed foods are bad. Knowing what is in your food is good. Growing it is better.
Nonetheless, reading In Defence of Food is a good refresher for even the cleanest eating of folk. Pollan takes you through the the disservice the FDA and “advancements” that nutritionism has made to our daily diet, debunking fad diets (low fat, low carb, etc) before asserting his three simple, and oft quoted rules:
Not to much.
This brilliantly simple premise might explain why it is so easy to work through this 256 page work (just over half the length of his also popular Omnivore’s Dilemma). While referencing scientific and anthropological studies, Pollan relies on a good deal of common sense to persuade you that food should be natural. Tips like sticking to the outer fringes of grocery stores, questioning whether a your great-grandmother would recognize something as “food” and consciously eating are posited to lead to better health.
Admittedly, I started the book with a degree of skepticism. My sister swears by this book, and I’ve always found her eating habits… weird… but that seems to be catch to Pollan’s premise: it’s so simple there is a lot of room for interpretation. As I periodically go through phases where I try to refocus our meals to being cleaner and greener, it is a great book for re-motivating me to watch what I buy.
Book: In Defence of Food
Author: Michael Pollan
Features: A reference to George Eliot’s Middlemarch which is laudable in a non-fiction health book.
Who should read: Anyone looking to find a solution in the no-fat, low-carb, nutrient-added world.