Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
These three phrases encompass Michael Pollan’s manifesto about eating. Although on the surface these phrases seem rather simplistic, in reality most people wouldn’t have the first clue where to begin to follow them.
On the heels of his wildly popular The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan strives to educate consumers about the history of the typical
Western diet, and why and how we have moved so far away from real, natural eating. He begins by talking about “The Age of Nutritionism.” Nutritionism, defined by Pollan (although he freely admits that the term does not originate with him) is an ideology about food that breaks foods into their nutrient parts, rather than looking at the food as a whole. Federal policy regarding food has moved completely away from guidelines recommending reduction of eating particular foods (i.e. red meat) due to heavy lobbying from those particular industries. We now hear about reducing saturated fat, increasing fiber, or whatever is the evil nutrient and savior nutrient of the moment.
Pollan explores the typical Western diet. Even with all of the supposedly “good” changes in regards to decreasing the “bad” nutrients and increasing the “good” ones, those who consume this type of diet are more and more likely to suffer from the same diseases and disorders that these dietary changes were supposed to prevent.
Finally, he talks about his three guidelines and gives practical advice for how to achieve them. It’s more simple, yet more complex than one might imagine. In saying, “Eat Food,” his main rule is to “Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high fructose corn syrup.” These are not difficult to understand, but finding foods that fit them in our industrialized, highly processed world takes a bit of ingenuity and a lot more planning than many people are willing to do. “Mostly Plants” talks about what to eat, and “Not too much” discusses how to eat.
In Defense of Food is a wonderful book
full of fascinating information backed up by a great deal of research and
documentation. Just a warning—if you step out of your comfort zone and read this
book, it just might change everything you believe about food and eating. You may
be compelled to make some drastic changes in your diet. I know that we have made
some and are continuing to make more. Pollan communicates his ideas in a reader-friendly way;
the information is technical, but not overly so, and is fairly easy to understand. In Defense of Food is outstanding.
Everyone should read and implement the basic ideas presented.