Reviews — By Ben on 15 October 2008
Eat food

Who would’ve thought that food needed to be defended, especially in a country like the U.S.A. where it seems to be in abundance, but Michael Pollan wrote a whole book to defend food. Why does it need to be defended? Isn’t food more abundant and better than ever before? I think we can find those answers by looking around us.

One of the things that struck me the most when I moved to the U.S.A. was the amount of people that suffered from things like allergies, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, overweight, strokes, cancer and other diseases. But when one takes a look at what the average American eats it is not surprising why thigs are this way.

Michael Pollan writes that food needs to be defended because most of what we eat now is not food and the way we consume it – in front of the TV, in the car and increasingly alone- is not really eating. Most of us realize to certain degree that the food we consume is not very good for us, but I was aghast to learn how far the food industry has gone to make food disappear from the shelves and to cover it up. And you would think that those food companies would be looking after the health of their customers.

An example of this is the infamous high fructose corn syrup that now seems to be in every single food product you buy at the grocery store. And they still have the indecency to tell you that it isn’t bad for you with a straight face.

It shocked me to learn that a lot of foods are stripped off their natural nutrients to give them a longer shelf life, but then they just throw a couple of vitamins and minerals back to make them look “healthy”. Pollan warns us that when a food claims to be healthy, that is the first sign that it isn’t.

But the food industry is not the only one at blame here. We (I am including myself here) have lost the sense of cooking and good eating because of our lifestyles. This doesn’t mean that we need to spend hours preparing our meals with expensive ingredients. This only means that we need to rethink the way we cook and eat. After all, eating is one of our most basic needs in life and it can be one of the most enjoyable activities of the day (just look at the French, Italians and, why not, Mexicans). Spending a little bit more time preparing and enjoying your food is one of the most satisfying and best things you can do for your health.

What is Pollan’s conclusion? Very simple, eat food (nothing that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food), not too much (small meals during the day and a light, satisfying dinner with family or friends), mostly plants (in reality we don’t need anything else).

In defense of food is the best non-fiction book I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it to anybody who eats (or want to eat) food, the real kind.

¡Buen provecho!

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(14) Readers Comments

  1. I love Michael Pollan’s writing and views. Nice post!

  2. I’ve read a lot about this book, though I haven’t read the book itself. It seems like a really good book, with a really good premise! I agree, we need to eat more real food instead of all these packaged weird things that are sold. I’m guilty of using lots of white flour and sugar, stuff like that. I think we can all improve in the things we cook and eat. Thanks for this post.

    I wonder if they have that book at our library? I might have to check it out.

  3. Lovely and informative post Ben. The best line is: Don’t eat anything your grandmother would not eat.

  4. Ben, excellent review. I still haven’t read the book but have every intention of doing so, especially now after your recommendatioon. Our family’s philosophy, much like yours, is all foods (natural foods that we grew up with) in moderation is good for the body. It is when we gorge and abuse ourselves that we run into health problems. Bien hecho mi amigo joven. Bien hecho.

  5. Can you believe those new pro-high fructose corn syrup commercials?! I almost fell off my chair the first time one came on tv. I do have to say since Matt & I have started our blog & joined a CSA, we cook from scratch more & feel a lot healthier.

  6. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time Ben…a really great review overall!

  7. Very interesting read Ben:D

  8. I am so with you on this one. My kids eat quite healthily (bit of a control freak about it I’m afraid!) and even with this I can see a difference in their attention span & attitude when the ‘junk’ or pre-made foods increase. They love cakes & biscuits, but at least if the majority are home made I am doing the best I can. Really interesting Ben, thanks.

  9. This book sounds great!
    There is a bit of a revolution going on in the UK right now about real food led by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingsall – but I don;t think our diet as a nation is quite as bad as that in the US just yet.

  10. Excellent post Ben! I couldn’t agree more!
    One of the things that shocked me the first time I travelled outside my country was that people were eating on the streets!!!! Here in Spain, restaurants are all full at lunch time and we not only enjoy our dinners but also our lunches :D… Mediterranean diet is my bible ;D

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