How can we decide what to eat when we are bombarded by all the ever-changing information from nutritionists, the food industry, and scientific studies? We all want to eat healthy food but are often confused by conflicting claims and advice. Journalist Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, puts forth a common sense approach to selecting and enjoying food that can be summed up in seven words, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Pollan begins by explaining how the current problem of nutritional confusion developed. He argues that most of the nutritional advice we have received in the last fifty years has actually made us fatter and less healthy. He points out that most of we eat today in not really food but rather food-like substances and that we “feed” rather than dine. This sad state of affairs, Pollan says, is due to the Nutritional Industrial Complex that eagerly exploits our desire to eat healthy foods.
The second part of the book explores the relationship of the Western diet and the diseases of civilization. Pollan describes the studies of Weston Price and Kerin O’Dea as a basis for developing a more ecological and cultural view of food and identifies five basic food transformations related to the Western diet that an individual can reverse in order to eat healthier food. To aid readers in escaping the Western diet, Pollam ends the book by presenting and discussing some guidelines for selecting, eating and enjoying food.
In Defense of Food is a though provoking book . It is very clearly written in non technical language so that anyone interested in food and health can understand the logic of the arguments. Even if you don’t change your eating habits after reading the book you will gain a valuable perspective on the state of the food industry.
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