In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In Defense of FoodReview by Sarah Newell

In Defense of Food asks us to ponder the simple question of how we humans managed to feed ourselves for thousands of years, yet now struggle more than ever to nourish ourselves with readily available foods.  As a journalist, not a nutritional scientist, nor a government agency, author Michael Pollan is able to look at the broader historical, social and political picture of food in America.  Through this lens, Pollan is able to defend “real food – the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food” against many of the “edible foodlike substances” that exist on the market.

While certainly a stark reality, Pollan is not a pessimist.  In fact, he provides his simple solution to the problem at hand within the first seven words of the book – “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  With these shockingly simple words, Michael Pollan takes us on an eye-opening and yet affirming journey, showing Americans how political the food system really is. 

In Defense of Food is a great read for anyone with an interest in history, politics, anthropology, or food.  With the emerging debate around terms like organic, genetically modified organisms and all-natural, the landscape of food continues to become more complicated.  Michael Pollan’s clear writing is able to cut away the fat and expose the Western Diet in a new way.

Check availability on In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

About the reviewer: Sarah Newell has been a member of the Reference Department at Tredyffrin Library since December 2014. She is also the Adult Programming Coordinator.  She enjoys meditating and watching politically or socially-aware documentaries.