“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan’s famous seven-word mantra is the opening for In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Pollan then spends the rest of the novel on an enlightening, thought-provoking dive into how food systems and underlying food culture have changed, especially in recent years.
Pollan’s claim is that, especially in America, our focus and worry about nutrition and what to eat actually parallels a decline in health. The food industry and nutritional science have confused consumers, and the Western diet has a host of associated problems. Pollan’s writing style brings the topic to life and shines light on some serious flaws in the food system and the ‘logic’ of the Western diet.
As he parses out his three suggestions (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”), the reader gains a deeper understanding of why society eats how it does. Pollan also suggests some guidelines to avoid the negative health consequences of the Western diet. These guidelines, far from telling you to eat more of one specific nutrient, are more like positive lifestyle goals: Stop reading health claims on processed foods, and go to a farmer’s market – or your own garden – to pick fresh ingredients. Then go home to cook, share this meal with loved ones…and repeat.
Note: PBS produced a documentary for In Defense of Food – also worth watching!