In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Central Library: RA784 .P643 2009

If you’re looking for a good read about food, read this book. If you’re looking for a new way to think about food, read this book. If you want to have a healthier diet, but you’re tired of counting everything from fat to fiber grams, this book is for you. If you just want to read an interesting, well-written, even entertaining book, this is for you.

Pollan argues that attempting to break everything down to the smallest bits isn’t always the best strategy for understanding the whole. Humans have evolved to gain nutrition and sustenance from food, and we will be more healthy, happy and satisfied if we stick to food. How one defines food will make all the difference in how successful this strategy is in producing greater health.

Food is what our great, great grandmothers would recognize as food. He suggests we shop around the edges of the supermarket, focusing on fresh produce, meats and bakery items and avoid the frozen, canned, and heavily packaged stuff in the middle. For meat, focus on grass-fed animals, which haven’t been fattened with corn, which is not a natural diet for it, and haven’t been injected with heavy doses of antibiotics and hormones.

The book’s main theme seems to suggest that we take a more relaxed view of our relationship with food. We don’t need worry about whether we’re getting too much of this or not enough of that if we eat a well-balanced diet of real foods, cooked slowly and eaten slowly, hopefully with loved ones there to share the meal. Start with real food and experiment with herbs and spices in order to achieve good tasting meals that make your mouth water. Good taste is key to good digestion, and good digestion is necessary for good health.

I have read exactly two books that have really influenced me to make changes not only in how I eat, by with my entire relationship to food—The Diet Cure, by Julia Ross—and In Defense of Food.

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