Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Michael Pollan: In Defense of Food

One of my major interests is how diet affects health, and I have read a lot of books on this topic. Most recently, this book by Michael Pollan, who also wrote The Ominvore's Dilemma (which I haven't read). In Defense of Food is excellent. He doesn't try to scare people into veganism, but he shows very reasonably, how we can make better food choices, which affect not only our own health, but the whole food chain, in a positive way. His basic premise is: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

"Eat food" refers to Pollan's opinion that "the most important fact about any food is not its nutrient content but its degree of processing". Therefore we should be eating food as close to its natural state as possible, and avoiding processed food "products".

"Not too much" refers to Pollan's thoughts on good eating habits: eating regular meals instead of grazing all day long, eating less food but better quality, sitting down at the table, eating slowly, cooking at home, and even gardening.

Finally, "mostly plants" means just that: "a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of dying from all the Western diseases." Pollan does not require full fledged vegetarianism or veganism - eating very small amounts of meat is still acceptable and beneficial in his book.

I found this to be an eloquent exploration of our modern eating habits and how we do have the power to make small changes that have enormous impact. Read more about my own personal take on food at my health and fitness blog here: http://fitandfabulousatforty.blogspot.com/2008/03/transition-from-flexitarian-to.html


Jenny said...

Can you set that one aside for me to read when I come visit you? I have a feeling I am going to end up with a pretty big stack waiting for me!

Amy said...

Of course! I can see it already, you'll be curled up somewhere with a book in your nose! :)

Joy said...

Amy--How funny! I just ordered this book from Amazon (trying to replace my food addiction entirely with a book addiction). Looking forward to reading it even more now.

Amy said...

As long as you don't start chewing on your books, that sounds like a great idea to me! This book is very good, you'll enjoy it.

Lesley said...

I'm working my way through The Omnivore's Dilemma now, very interesting! I heard Michaal Pollen in an interview on NPR about In Defense of Food, and was intrigued. It's on my Amazon Wishlist now.

I tend to have several books in the works at any give time. Another one currently by my bed is Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Based on the first few pages, I think it's going to be another interesting read. I gave up fast food a while back, but it's hard to escape the signs and the advertisements, isn't it?

Another book in this same vein that looks good is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about her family's experiment to eat locally for a year. I had it on my Amazon Wishlist and got it as a Christmas gift. Looking forward to reading it.

Amy said...

Lesley, I read Fast Food Nation a few years ago and it really makes it easy to stop eating fast food! My fingers have been itching to go make an order on Amazon - The Omnivore's Dilemma may just have to be one of my next reads. Let me know what you think of it!