Book review: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food is a wonderful book that argues a very simple case – that food is more than the sum of its nutritional components. It is not simply “fuel.” Michael Pollan exposes how the “nutritionism” of food has led the food industry into a pendulum of different diets and fads based on any given studies of the moment – many of which are later proven wrong (such as the marketing of margarine as good for heart health).

It’s a dizzying dance of corruption and capitalism that has taken something so simple – our food – and made it into something that might resemble food, but has a very long list of ingredients that really make it a “food-like substance.”

Perhaps what I most enjoyed about this book was Pollan’s simple tip to not eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize. A wonderful guide when navigating the grocery store aisles! I also appreciated his research on how Americans spend so much less on food than in other countries. I have always carried around much guilt for spending money on organic, high-quality foods. It did my heart good to read the encouragement to keep it up.

Pollan supports investing in good quality food, not only for an individual’s health – but for the health of the workers growing the food, and for the planet as a whole. I agree with his perspective, and will continue to invest in real, high quality food – without guilt! This is a book I will undoubtedly reference back to again and again.


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