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In Defense of Food | [Michael Pollan]

In Defense of Food

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion.
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Audible Editor Reviews

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These are the first words of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Scott Brick narrates these opening sentences with slowly paced emphasis and a nicely modulated deftness, with a hint of coyness. The coyness is Pollan's. For what else can one eat but food? And why does eating need a manifesto? Pollan answers that we increasing do not eat food (whole food) but rather consume processed "food products". We are in "The Age of Nutritionism". Pollan's In Defense of Food is a richly developed polemic against the unhealthful food culture that the ideology of nurtitionism represents. The book is as well a de facto manual for growing and eating our way out of it.

Brick is a compelling spokesman for Pollan's argument. He brings to In Defense of Food a voice in the baritone-to-tenor range, with an always on-the-mark sonic focus matched with a point of expressive emphasis that constantly shifts, as Brick makes his flawless and fluent runs up and down and within his octave ranges. Brick's doing all of this can only be achieved by natural talent, disciplined training, and smart reading — joined by a mastery of a quite large array of narrative and expressive skills.

It is very likely that somewhere in some academic haven there are specific concepts and a precise language that could quantify and describe what goes on with Brick's narrative voice. In the end, though, it all comes down to art. Using, with apologies, an extended metaphor, that of jazz: Brick picks up his axe (saxophone), fingering the notes and changing the octaves with the keys; with his fine set of chops (lips) applies the pressure onto the sax's mouth piece and reed, and, modulating the breath and applying nuances of feeling and expression, blows -- that is, in jazz-speak -- plays. The well-argued and passionate polemic that is In Defense of Food is, in this audio production, a show piece showcasing Scott Brick's narrative range and dexterity. —David Chasey

Publisher's Summary

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, the well-considered answers he provides to the questions posed in the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible food-like substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Michael Pollan's sensible and decidedly counterintuitive advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food."

In looking toward traditional diets the world over, as well as the foods our families-and regions-historically enjoyed, we can recover a more balanced, reasonable, and pleasurable approach to food. Michael Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives and enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy.

©2008 Michael Pollan; (P)2008 Penguin Audiobooks

What Members Say

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4.4 (1326 )
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  •  
    Ryan dover, DE, USA 06-20-09
    Ryan dover, DE, USA 06-20-09
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    "Rethink what you know about food"

    Pollan brings to the table a wealth of information that challenges the conventional wisdom of western eating habits. After listening to this book, I know find myself questioning everything I consume. The irony is, most of the habits I picked up from this book are instincts we all have inside of us. Shop for natural foods. Don't shop for products that contain the new "fad" in them. If it does not naturally occur, stay away. We can all live healthy by eating actual food and not scientifically engineered nutritional supplements. Two thumbs up to Michael Pollan on this book, it is well worth the read.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brenty United States 07-22-13
    brenty United States 07-22-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A thoughtful holistic perspective"

    And I don't mean 'holistic' in the hipster sense; this book gives a great top-to-bottom view on why we should eat food and just what that really means for us as human beings.

    If what you put into your body matters to you, read this book and enjoy its depth; if you don't particularly care about what you put into your body today, read this book so that you might care tomorrow.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie BERKELEY, CA, United States 06-25-12
    Stephanie BERKELEY, CA, United States 06-25-12
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    "Plain Talk - Simple, Straightforward"

    In the beginning of the listen, I was unimpressed and even a little irked by the reader's tonality and emphasis on the reading. This annoyance lasted for several chapters..but eventually, either his reading got better or I was so engrossed in the content it no longer bothered me.

    It's a very good book. It pulls no punches---hails an attack on all of the food industry and the USDA alike. It's in plain English, which makes it not only easy to understand but very easy to listen to.

    Good information and food for thought. I read this immediately after listening to Gary Taubes "Why We Get Fat" --and it was in stark contrast in terms of simplicity (Gary's was much more scientifically based and technical and focused on a meat-based diet, while IDOF focuses on a plant-based diet), and the view points differed in many respects, but both are good books, and it is worth reading them both in order to get a well-rounded view of the impact of today's diet on our health and society.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon CHICAGO, IL, United States 01-29-12
    Shannon CHICAGO, IL, United States 01-29-12 Member Since 2005

    sohara28

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    "Sneering, condescending narrator"

    I don't know that I've ever written this on this site, but I think this is a book better read than heard. At least, it's better read than heard with this narrator.

    His general tone is one of sneering condescension, as he explains things that his tone seems to indicate any idiot should know. It's as if he's sprinkling vinegar, rather than honey, while attempting to convert a group of flies.

    There is a lot of good information in this book. I had many questions as to the origin of the information provided. Perhaps the printed edition includes footnotes.

    I have to say that the book gave me a lot to think about, and I will be adjusting my diet.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Los Angeles, CA, United States 02-24-11
    Kathleen Los Angeles, CA, United States 02-24-11
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    "Engrossing and Informative"

    I knew I would learn from this book, but I didn't realize how much I would enjoy it. I found myself really engrossed in this book - so much so I wanted to do the dishes so I'd have an excise to put in headphones. I have really changed my perspective on food and loved the way it debunked so many myths of "nutritionism" in favor of sense.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada 10-20-10
    Daniel Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada 10-20-10 Member Since 2010

    virtual_chillidog

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    "A manifesto for the foodie"

    If you had to choose between celery and hot dogs for the rest of your life, which would be the "healthy" choice? The answer may surprise you...
    Pollan sets out to establish a guideline for what people should eat, and he's quite successful. This isn't and anti-dieting book, but it's not a guide to "nutrition" either; instead, the book sets out cases and examples that willl make you think twice about the assumptions you have about food (and "food products"), and hopefully will help you figure out how to eat more food and less garbage.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Austin, TX, United States 09-29-10
    Debbie Austin, TX, United States 09-29-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Very Practical"

    I found this book easy and interesting to listen too. It has more practical detail as to how to eat better. And, it puts it in interesting context about the farming and food industry. He explains how to better shop for food. Like stick to the outside edges of the supermarket where the whole foods are, like produce, versus the processed foods in the rest of the store. Eat what your great grandparents ate a hundred years ago, versus processed foods. Added supplements and products with the latest health claims are more for marketing, like the Pom Pom pomegranate drink, etc. It's better just to eat a whole pomegranate. The Omnivore's Dilemma goes into more detail about the modern and traditional farming of food, which I found to be a little boring and less applicable, unless I want to grow my own food, go to a local small farmer, etc.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krista Wilbur, WA, United States 08-15-10
    Krista Wilbur, WA, United States 08-15-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Good - but not great."

    Like other reviewers, I blame Scott Brick a little for the low review. I love Scott Brick -as in Jason Bourne - but not so much in non-fiction. He reads as if everything is a conspiracy! And no help from the author as he writes it that it is a conspiracy. At the end, I am left wondering "is anything healthy to eat?" He gives some good advice at the end, and pretty much says what healthy eaters already know. However, I did find that it made me think more when I buy food - do I really want to eat THAT? A good listen for encouraging healthy eating and why so many of us don't, and why food companies put out the "foof" they do.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Arkansas 06-17-10
    Amazon Customer Arkansas 06-17-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Food for thought"

    I am sympathetic to Michael Pollan’s way of thinking about food so this was an interesting presentation of what I already believe. I would recommend this book to those of like minds, for example if you enjoyed The Omnivore’s Dilemma. However, I have the same criticism as I did of his previous work. It tends to be a little on the officious side, and as much as I like Scott Brick, he is the wrong narrator for this book. A little officious become downright pompous with Brick’s narration. If I did not agree with the content it would be difficult to finish the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bennett south lyon, MI, United States 11-10-09
    Bennett south lyon, MI, United States 11-10-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Masterpiece!"

    easy to follow, factual and exciting, Micheal Pollan delivers a must read for anyone who partakes in eating at anytime in their lives!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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