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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008)
de Michael Pollan
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This could be called The Omnivore's Dilemma Part 2. In this volume, Pollan elaborates on his conclusions on the best diet: eat real food, not a lot, mainly plants. I can live with that. His critique of nutritionism makes a number of valid points, but I was a bit perturbed at his using of nutritional studies to argue against nutrition. Still, food for thought.
Finished In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. In Defense of Food discusses the interactions between individuals and the food around them. The core message of the book appears right on the cover. "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The rest of the book discusses these claims and the justification behind them.
Americans eat a whole lot of fake food. These foodlike substances are things that look like food and more or less taste like food but which are made of weird ingredients and generally are not really good for you.
"Nutritionism" has contributed to the success of food-like substances. Nutritionism is the tendency see food as made of little blocks of good and bad things. Fat is bad. Carbs are bad. Omega-3s are good. Anti-oxidants are good. Nutritionism makes claims that have truth but lack nuance. Most food science studies do not make the simple claims that the media and food companies claim as truths. The substances in food interact in complex ways, and the "good bits" do not always have the same effectiveness when injected into other substances, and the definition of "good" changes constantly.
Foodlike substances get injected with what we currently declare good and stripped of what we currently declare bad. But time and time again, we find that underestimating the complexity of food does not make for healthy eating. As an alternative, Pollan suggests that we "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Eat food. Avoid foodlike substances. Pollan gives some rules of thumb for finding real food. Would people from 2 or 3 generations ago recognize it as food? Do all of the ingredients sound like food? Does it avoid excessive health claims? Is it located around the edges of the supermarket (or even better, out of the supermarket completely)? These are rules of thumb and can be overly strict if taken literally, but they are much easier to remember than the confusing, misleading, and ever shifting lists of what nutritionism thinks is the current good and bad.
Mostly plants. Plants, especially the leafy bits, have all sorts of things necessary for our survival combined in ways we are only beginning to understand. In addition to eating plants, you should try to eat a larger variety of plants. These plants should be grown in healthy soil. You should also try to mix some wild plants into your diet. Meat is not bad. In fact, some people are beginning to believe that the biggest danger from eating meat isn't anything about the meat in particular; it is the fact that eating more meat pushes plants out of your diet.
Not too much. The stereotypical American consumes food instead of eating it. This leads to overeating. Pollan gives several tips to avoid overeating. Pay more for less food; value quality over quantity. Eat meals instead of snacks. Eat meals at the table, and try to eat with other people. People who are talking and listening tend to eat less. Plus, people eating together tend to gravitate toward eating similar amounts. Light eaters may end up eating more, but heavy eaters will end up eating less. Finally, eat slowly and use your stomach (not your vision) to tell you when you're done.
In Defense of Food is not the last word on the "right" way to eat, however, it provides a lot of good guidelines and the points Pollan makes are well supported. A recommended read.
The author has a few good points to consider when examining your own nutrition choices, and I can see how this book hits for a certain target market, but I was too distracted by the author employing the same sensationalist marketing strategies full of overconfidence and reductionism that he criticizes nutrition science for.
I'm not sure why he couldn't distinguish between nutrition science, reporting and journalism on that science, and people's everyday nutrition choices/knowledge. Those are three distinct areas where the ideas of nutrition are formed and communicated, all with their own influences and pitfalls, and the author just generalized them all and lumped them all into one concept that he labeled "wrong, usually." But because he wants to villainize "nutrition science," as he calls it, to sell his book, we don't get that thoughtful nuance and discussion from this book.
As someone who does have to watch my nutrition closely for my health, where the "common sense" he touts lacks the knowledge I need to make the best choices for my body, it was rather offensive for him to claim with zero scientific proof, or even thoughtful consideration, that he thought the more a person thinks about healthy food, the less happy they are. It's a lot like the people who say anyone who counts calories or thinks about health food suffers from disordered eating, and I'm so not here for that. Ignorance is bliss, I guess?
This book serves out the best eating advice I've ever read. Mostly common sense advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
The book lacks bravado and the humor to make it a five star book for me. But it's arrival is quite timely.
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Wikipedia en anglès (6)
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of food journalist Pollan's thesis. Humans used to know how to eat well, he argues, but the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." Indeed, plain old eating is being replaced by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Pollan's advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food." Looking at what science does and does not know about diet and health, he proposes a new way to think about what to eat, informed by ecology and tradition rather than by the nutrient-by-nutrient approach.--From publisher description.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)613.2Technology and Application of Knowledge Medicine and health Personal health and safety Dietetics
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Una edició d'aquest llibre ha estat publicada per Penguin Australia.
By contrast, In Defense of Food focuses on why we don't know much about nutrition and the weakness of science in unearthing what we should eat. The writing is engaging, and I enjoyed reading about Pollen's insights, but the whole thing isn't very enlightening. In the end, the author draws conclusions about what we should and should not eat, and gives simple eating guidelines that really are the same ones you'd find in any woman's magazine article on eating right. Yes, the build up of his argument is more thorough and slightly more interesting, but the whole book just reads like an overblown magazine article - - and I could really give you the whole book in 5-10 sentences right here. But I won't. In case you still want to read it . . . ( )