Oh my gosh I am going to be annoying everyone about this book: apologies to everyone who knows me or meets me. This book is my new most favorite thing ever.
I’m familiar with Michael Pollan by reputation more than experience as this was the first thing of his I had ever read. As one of “those people” who constantly takes pictures of food, strives for a healthy diet, and is spouting recipes to anyone who indicates vague interest, it was only a matter of time before I read everything Pollan has ever written about food, culture, and the crux of the two.
This small (140 page) tome is basically the distillation of what he has learned as a journalist and food authority about what you SHOULD be eating. Should, of course, being relative based on your goals and desires, but he strives to very simply summarize an easy-to-use guide that answers this timeless and vexing question as it relates to making informed choices and having an optimal diet.
The book is split into three clever sections. Part I – What should I eat? (Eat food.) Part II – What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants.) Part III – How should I eat? (Not too much.)
Essentially, he explains why the Western diet is terrible (processed foods, too much meat) and gives examples of diets in other countries that work better, and simple rules to adopt that ensure you will eat more real food, and less empty calories. However, as a food journalist he isn’t trying to sell you on one method or another: he just gives the information he has learned and leaves it up to you to decide what “rules” you would like to follow.
And that’s about it folks. This book speaks to me because it basically validates my life choices. I have been trying since graduate school to “eat healthy” and have been frustrated with the challenge of making good choices in a world of wrong information, and intentional misinformation by the food industry. Pollan puts this confusion into focus in the intro by explaining that nutritional science is very new, so new in fact that what we know about it now translates to what we knew in the 1600s about surgery. No wonder it’s such a confusing mess to try to eat well!
As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, I will be recommending this book to everyone and encouraging others to adopt his methods because in doing so I have found to be a happy and healthy person. I’m not saying it’s easy: changing habits and lifestyle takes hardwork and dedication, but it can be done! Coming soon: reviews of all his other books because they are now at the tippy top of my “to read” list.