Monday, October 04, 2010

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

It seems that every time it is my turn to post reviews I’ve read yet another book about diet, nutrition or the environment. These are themes I can’t pull myself away from and since I can’t stay away I invite you to come along for a few more sentences and indulge my obsession.

In Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan has distilled some of his findings from The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food to offer bite-sized chunks of information to consider when making your next dietary decision. His 64 rules can be easily digested over the course of a long lunch--you will often have to put down your fork to turn the next page since some of the rules require no further explanation. Case in point, Rule #20: It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

Pollan came up with most of the rules on his own but also tapped into the greater world of food culture. His assertion is that traditional food cultures have been getting it right and our new Western diet of processed food is proving to be the culprit of many chronic diseases (i.e. obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer). These rules point out the absurdity of feeding on factory food when our bodies have been getting their nourishment from natural foods (think produce section) for millennia. Here are a few of my favorites:

Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.
Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Avoid food products that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

Pollan gives more than just these statements with a paragraph or two of explanation. And it’s not all doom and gloom, rather a redirection back to the way humans used to eat before the food scientists, marketers and factories got involved. This is a commonsense guide that easily fits into your pocket the next time you are heading out to forage for some grub.

I’ve already mentioned Pollan’s two other excellent books that expand on the findings in Food Rules. For another take on conscious eating give Food Matters by Mark Bittman a perusal.


Diane W said...

I love the rule - don't eat cereal that changes the color of your milk - I've thought that since I was little!! Thanks for the review.

Matthew R said...

Thanks Diane--and I remember how as a kid how I loved it when the Cocoa Pebbles made my milk chocolate!

Katie L said...

During a break during a YFS meeting this morning we looked through this book. It really made me sad about alot of the foods I eat. Great reminder of how little of our food is "food".