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274-Word Book Review: In Defense of Food

Short review: 40 words
Michael Pollen's book is one that will help you figure out why what you're eating isn't miracle food and what you should be eating instead. It's not a guide to weight loss, but it is a guide to eating better.

How to read it:

  • Skim the first half, but read every word of the second.
  • Check it out from the library and write down all of his rules in part two.
  • Invite your friends over for dinner to talk about it.

Longer analysis: 234 words
The first half of the book is academic. Very academic. It's full of citations and quotes from papers and research that I'd never read. Thankfully, Pollen distills it down for us non-nutritionists, non-dieticians and non-doctors. The point of his 81-page diatribe? The food industry has boiled eating down to what can be called "nutritionism" which has created harmful effects for omnivores everywhere.

We've all seen food in the supermarket that promises to lower our cholesterol, make us healthier or be a cure-all for what ails us. Pollen points out that the above features aren't just myths – they're nearly based on junk science that divorces food from culture, thereby making us unhealthier than ever.

So what's the solution? Pollen offers a comprehensive one in the second half of his book. And, he keeps it simple. He offers the 'why' behind such maxims as, "Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle," "Eat mostly plants, especially leaves," and "Do all your eating at a table."

Following all of Pollen's advice will make you a healthier and happier person, I'm sure. But it will also make you realize the intricate relationship that we should be having with what we eat. Because food has been a social and cultural experience on a variety of levels, it can't be broken down into simple nutrients and calories. And this is precisely why food must be defended.

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