Book Review: “In Defense of Food”

21 Aug

foodI just finished reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.  It makes complete sense – “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants”. 

Our culture of food has veered sharply away from home and family based traditions, to a need for speed and convenience – and therefore ignorance.  Increasingly, the food we eat is the product of a vast industrial, commercial system – even unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables are shipped long distances from giant farms, where they may have been grown using genetically modified seeds, and were surely doused with chemical pesticides and herbicides. 

Our reliance on packaged foods and agriculture on a massive scale has led to increased rates of obesity and related diseases, foodborne illness outbreaks that affect the entire country, and widespread plant diseases, like the recent tomato blight in the Northeast. 

As a society, we no longer learn about food from our family.  The traditions of planting, harvesting, cooking, and preserving, although they are experiencing a renaissance, have for too long been ignored.  Now, our food culture consists of a trip to the frozen foods aisle, and a date with the microwave.  If we learn about food, we hear about vitamins and nutrients, carbs and fats, protiens and antioxidants. 

But we can’t break broccoli down into its various vitamins and nutrients, reassemble it as a pill, and expect our bodies to think its broccoli.  Different cultures of food around the world evolved and adapted to provide their populations with a healthy, complete diet.  We need to rediscover those traditions, eat whole foods, know where they came from, and teach our children how to put together a balanced diet.

3 Responses to “Book Review: “In Defense of Food””

  1. Kate August 22, 2009 at 2:12 am #

    One of the points Pollan makes in his book is that different cultures around the globe developed different diets – some high in fat, some high in carbs, etc., but all of those diet based on preparing real foods in a home setting have adequately sustained their cultures. The point is that there is no one “perfect” diet – do you know anyone who has terrible eating habits, but is healthy simply because they take a multivitamin? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking vitamins, but I don’t think they have nearly the impact that a sensible, varied diet does.

  2. Dawn Beachley September 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    do you have this book? If so i would like to read it.

  3. Shelly September 12, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    I loved this book too and passed it on to Rachael and Robert, who are now fellow converts. 🙂

    If only I could convince my schedule that cooking from scratch is good enough for us to make the time.

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