In defence of food


I loved this book! Nice and easy to read, but boy it made a lot of sense and full of sensible, do-able suggestions for eating better and thinking about food…well like food and not as the sum of its parts. I had so many “yes” moments while I was reading this book.


The full title of this book is ‘In defence of food: the myth of nutrition and the pleasures of eating’.  Michale Pollan argues that food is not longer described in food terms, but in terms of low fat, hi fibre, Atkins, good fat, bad fat – the food industry has ‘nutritionised’ food and for all the promise of low fat and eating the right foods- why are we so obese and suffering from poor nutrition? And food fads change  – add a vitamin or change a fat when some part is proved bad. 

Love his first page,  first words- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.

Lots of really useful points:

  • Pay more, eat less – better food usually costs more and is grown less intensively. Sugar and fats are cheap (and often subsidiesd), while fresh fruit and vegatables have increased in price.
  • Eat meals- sounds obvious- but we snack an awful lot. I was at the local zoo last school holidays and couldn’t help but notice everyone walking around eating, and when you are doing that type of snacking you are not consciously eating. According to research these snacks are not fruit and vegetables – they are “snacks…[that] consist mainly of cleverly flavored and configured arrangements of refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, corn sweetners and salt”.
  • Do all your eating at a table – and no a desk is not a table.
  • Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does. Pollan’s stats say that American petrol stations sell more food (and cigarettes) than petrol- and think about the food sold in your local petrol station?
  • Try not to eat alone  – when we eat mindlessly and alone- we generally eat more.
  • Consult your gut – we are not very good at eating until we are full- we use visual cues- large portions, large containers- instead of listening to our bodies.
  • Eat slowly – the slow food movement. Eat deliberately.
  • Cook and if you can, plant a garden
  • Avoid the middle of the supermarket where the processed foods are. Fresh food is usually around around sides of supermarket where the fridges are. 
  • Avoid food products with ingredients that are unfamiliar, that are unpronounceable, more than five in number or contain high fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid food products that make health claims.
  • Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.

So food wise- what does he suggest?:

  • Eat plants, especially leaves
  • Eat like an omnivore – a range of foods, in season. I find it really interesting that with our processed Western diet we are actually lacking in some essential vitamins and minerals/trace elements.
  • Eat like a Greek, or Italian or French or Japanese culture – or any traditonal food culture group-  just not Western. Two parts – the food a culture eats and how they eat – are both really important.

There’s more, lots more and lots of examples and research (and citations!). I love this type of book – it gets me back on track with eating good food. That simple.  Michael Pollan has also written other books, including  ‘The omnivore’s dilemma’ – which I want to get my hands on next.

Thanks to Penny and my virtual book group for introducing me to this author (and I’m a full month late on this one!).

I hope I have whetted your appetite for reading the book



2 Responses to “In defence of food”

  1. 1 Penny

    So glad you enjoyed it!

  1. 1 Twitted by GreekPrincess74

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