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In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating: An Eater's Manifesto Paperback – 7 May 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating: An Eater's Manifesto
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  • Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
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  • The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World (reissued)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141034726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141034720
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For the past twenty years, Michael Pollan has been writing about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs, and architecture. His book The Omnivore's Dilemma, about the ethics and ecology of eating, was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is also the author of In Defence of Food, The Botany of Desire, A Place of My Own and Second Nature, and the upcoming Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.

Product Description

Review

'If you're prone to pondering the nutritional advice we're spoon-fed by 'experts', this book is a very necessary antidote' Timeout 'In Defence of Food ... instantly makes redundant all diet books and 99 per cent of discussions around healthy eating' Daily Mail 'Read this witty book for a healthier life and diet' Times 'Eminently sensible' Evening Standard 'His approach is steeped in honesty and self-awareness. His cause is just, his thinking is clear, and his writing is compelling' Washington Post

From the Publisher

From the bestselling author of The Omnivore's Dilemma comes In Defence of Food and the Omnivore's Solution for a new way of eating in the New Year...:


1: Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognise as food


2: Avoid foods containing ingredients you can't pronounce


3: Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot


4: Avoid food products that carry health claims


5: Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle


6: Better yet, buy your food somewhere else: farmers' markets or the CSA


7: Pay more, eat less


8: Eat a wide diversity of species


9: Eat food from animals that eat grass


10: Cook and, if you can, grow some of your own food


11: Eat meals and eat them only at tables


12: Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I heard Mr Pollan on Radio 4, and was impressed. The book is well worth persevering with, it is crammed with well researched information.

This is not a diet book, it is an anti-diet book. It arms you with all the tools you need to make up your own mind about food.

It is easy to become almost evangelical about this book, but it is a really important piece of work. Nutritionalists should not worry, the world still needs you, but this book makes you wonder about the way that major corporations use this information to boost profits.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cannot recommend this book too highly. It's easy to read, written with good humour as well as insight, and makes lots of good points about the way our eating habits have changed for the worse in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Mr Pollan points to several of the key behavioural changes that lie at the root of our eating problems and suggests simple ways of reversing the bad trends. To paraphrase him very slightly, the key is to eat REAL food - not the over-processed garbage that we get served up far too often today as "food". The anecdote about the inhabitants of Okinawa who trained themselves to stop eating when 80% full also highlights how we need to re-educate our appetites. Well worth the outlay.
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Format: Paperback
What can I say about this book, it is simply superb. What Pollan has done in this book is to bring together all the common sense that been learned about food over the last few thousand years and asks if what we've been doing to foods in the last few decades has really been beneficial.

The book begins by looking at modern food (i.e. processed food) and investigated how this `improved' food has impacted upon the health of the last few generations. The results show just how the food we are eating really is affecting our health despite all the miraculous health claims the packaging may have been making. But Pollan goes on to look at the even bigger picture of how this same food may be affecting more than just health, but behaviour of people and just how the "ready in 20 mins" food may effect the family unit too. He goes on to expose some of the lies that the food industries are making with their health claims and just how the inclusion, or exclusion, of certain vitamins, oils etc can actually be having adverse effects upon our health.

I must admit you begin to feel a little hopeless at this point, however this is where the real brilliance begins.

In the final third of the book Pollan explains how we can reclaim the power over our diets and health. He does this, not in some complicated diet, i.e. GI, Atkins, Calorie counting or any of the other ridiculous `weight loss' diets (personal opinion), but by simple easy to follow guidelines (i.e. if a food has more than 5 ingredients, most of which you can't pronounce, then don't by it, or even simpler, buy food that your Great Gran would recognise (that's the yogurt in a tube out then)).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may be one of the best books I've read this year. I came across it mostly by chance, when browsing the biology books. Michael Pollan has written a book about the evolution of fruit-trees, and when looking at that, "In Defense of Food" came up too. Since it's very popular, I naturally wanted to see what was shaking!

I wasn't disappointed. I originally assumed that Pollan was a wacky independent thinker, but actually he's a professor of journalism at Berkeley, and a regular contributor to the New York Times. He's not a Green radical or militant vegan either. In fact, Pollan's book is eminently reasonable, almost conventional, but precisely for that reason, revolutionary!

As you no doubt have guessed, "In Defense of Food" is a critical book about the American food processing industry. But not just the industry! What makes the book so interesting, is that Pollan *also* criticizes the nutritionists and their health fads. At first glance, this may seem strange. Aren't nutritionists and the food industry adversaries? Don't the nutritionists often criticize the food processing industry for producing unhealthy food? Isn't it a good thing that government regulations force the food companies to make healthier food?

Pollan's answer is: well, no, not really. In his opinion, the nutritionists are part of the problem. Indeed, the industry and the nutritionists are two sides of the same coin! Artificial, processed food (such as margarine) has *always* been marketed with the argument that it's more "healthy", "scientific" and "nutritious" than the real thing (in this case, butter). Conversely, the nutritionists have never criticized the production of processed food as such. They only criticize it for lacking this or that nutrient, this or that vitamin or fatty acid.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Pollan's hard-hitting, witty and possibly life-saving look at food - specifically the shambolic disgrace that is the 'Western Diet', sets its premise out right at the start - we need to:

Eat food. Not too much. Eat more plants.

That first statement might raise a few eyebrows. Surely anything we eat, by definition, is food? Not so. As Pollan shockingly shows, we stopped eating food in the West several decades ago, and began to eat 'nutrients' instead. As part of an ongoing 'reductionism' which gets applied to almost everything. our foods have been picked apart to analyse specific ingredients (in isolation) which are said to harm us or to help us. Politics, big business, whether the food 'industry' - which it has become as most of our food is now manufactured rather than, well, allowed to grow, graze or roam - or the 'health industry' have all benefitted from the 'un' food revolution. The individual consumer pays the price in terms of soaring rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes and more. The planet and future generations pay the price in terms of depleted soil, the rapid fall in biodiversity and an unsustainable way of life. Our non-food is another way we are killing the planet. And ourselves.

Pollan's book shows elegantly and easily how much our food has changed. He urges us not to follow faddy diets which all look at food through single nutrient zealotry - eg 'the Atkins Diet' 'the GI' diet 'the Omega 3 diet'. Look at the labels on any 'packaged' food. A loaf of bread rarely contains the ingredients your great grandmother would have recognised.
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