In Defense of Food

#1 New York Times Bestseller from the author of How to Change Your Mind, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Food Rules 

Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?

Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion--most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see to become. With In Defense of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

"Michael Pollan [is the] designated repository for the nation's food conscience."—Frank Bruni, The New York Times

" A remarkable volume . . . engrossing . . . [Pollan] offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave."—The Washington Post

"A tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be redced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential... [a] lively, invaluable book."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"In Defense of Food is written with Pollan's customary bite, ringing clarity and brilliance at connecting the dots."—The Seattle Times

Michael Pollan’s most recent food book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education--was published by Penguin Press in April 2013, and in 2016 it served as the inspiration for a four-part docuseries on Netflix by the same name.

Pollan is also the author of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence 

In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan Summary

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (released internationally as In Defence of Food) is a 2008 book by journalist and activist Michael Pollan. It was number one on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller List for six weeks. The book grew out of Pollan's 2007 essay Unhappy Meals published in the New York Times Magazine. Pollan has also said that he wrote In Defense of Food as a response to people asking him what they should eat after having read his previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.In the book, Pollan explores the relationship between nutritionism and the Western diet, postulating that the answer to healthy eating is simply to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pollan argues that nutritionism as an ideology has overcomplicated and harmed American eating habits. He says that rather than focusing on eating nutrients, people should focus on eating the sort of food that their ancestors would recognize, implying that much of what Americans eat today isn't real food, but "imitations of food." In the book, he distinguishes between food and "edible foodlike substances." Pollan recommends that Americans spend more money and time on food, and buy locally.Pollan argues that the science of nutrition should not influence people's eating habits because a full range of nutrients has yet to be identified by scientists, and claims that the more focused Americans become on nutrition, the less healthy they seem to become.In 2009, the University of Wisconsin–Madison selected In Defense of Food as the inaugural book of its Common Read program Go Big Read. A professor from the university's department of dairy science wrote to oppose this decision, saying that Pollan's writing expressed "an individual's biased and disputed view of today's food and agricultural systems."In 2015, In Defense of Food was adapted into a television documentary for PBS...

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In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan Book Reviews (216)


Highly recommend. Changed the way I eat and see food.5 star

This book isn't meant to scare you, but to enlighten you. 55

The Pixel Pilot

Life-changing5 star

There's an extremely short list of books I've ever read that have changed my life irrevocably. 'Photoshop for Dummies' helped define a career path that I'm still on today, some 20 years after I read it. 'Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much,' has changed the way I view the endeavor of sustenance permanently. There is so much wisdom in this short book I wouldn't know where to begin. Suffice to say, that if you wish to live a longer, healthier, and an eminently more satisfying life. This book is a must-read. Bravo! 55


Excellent!5 star

I was first introduced to the idea of CSAs and Wendell Berry when I took a course at Penn State University by an amazing professor Madhu Prakash. After the course, I made a commitment to connect more with eating. I joined a CSA and now I am educating myself and my family about the history of food...and what are we really eating? This book was an excellent read that I could easily understand. I will now have to buy a hard copy just so I can have others read it! 55


Great information but not an easy read.3 star

Great information but not an easy read. 35


Excellent4 star

Excellent book. Gets repetitive at times in the first half but is reasonable. The premise itself that food is greater than the sum of it's parts is well expounded and leaves it to the reader to act and continue reading, rather than being and anti-nutritionist manifest... Most of the time. 45


Informative4 star

This book introduced me to some ideas about food that I never would have thought about on my own. It certainly helps to get the backstory on how the food industry's desire for more money has inspired misinformation on nutrition related topics to United States inhabitants over the years. I plan to put many of the author's ideas in to practice. 45


You are what you read5 star

I am consistently impressed with Pollan's work. His points are substantial and backed with simple and easy to understand facts and opinions. Once again, he has taken the complex issue of the evolution of food and the idea of modern nutrition back to the very basics, and made this accessible to all. 55


Excellent read5 star

Deals in common sense mainly, but sometimes it takes a book like this to make you stop and think a little more. Excellent read! 55

In Defense of Food Book Discussions

Other Michael Pollan Books

The Omnivore's Dilemma


The Omnivore's Dilemma

4.5     250
Food Rules


Food Rules

4     517
How to Change Your Mind


How to Change Your Mind

4     237
In Defense of Food


In Defense of Food

4     216