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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator] Scott Brick brings the necessary energy, pacing, and articulation to what promises to be one of this year's most popular and provocative titles.... Brick carries this manifesto against nutrition science and food manufacturers with the voice of indictment - unflinching, unflagging, and fired by conviction." (AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Bennett
  • south lyon, MI, United States
  • 11-10-09

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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  • Story

I am so going to die.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have to admit, even though I truly liked the book and greatly appreciated the information; emotionally it had me in knots, still feel that way. You know you are being marketed to with every food ad or show on tv, in the store and online. It comes down to who you trust to give you factual information about food and you find that everyone has an agenda and that every choice I thought I was making based on good information is probably killing me slowly. For me, reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma first as has been suggested by other reviewers didn’t help me feel any better about this book, but I do recommend it. I can look at my food choices with scrutiny but with a better understanding of why I made that choice and make a plan of how I go forth in becoming better informed about what I eat. I need to know so much more.

If I have any issue with the book, it's that I'm not a "foodie". I'm well traveled and have been exposed to many foods, but I'm not a foodie like you almost have to be in order to eat like Pollen suggest. Also I wish Pollen could given more about the politics of food. Anyone of a lower income and limited access to food choices either by income or access have not much choice than to be a victim of food companies a well as the healthcare system gaining revenue from our poor "nutrition".

Who was your favorite character and why?

Scott Brick for sure (LoL)

Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no, but I might have to seek him out. I bet he could make the process of grass growing seem like a murder mystery.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did.

Any additional comments?

The narration done by Scott Brick was well done, if not just a tad bit too dramatic which I’m sure added to my anxiety but in retrospect probably was helpful in presenting what is not a simple issue.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

More Omnivore's Dilemma

What did you like best about In Defense of Food? What did you like least?

If you read Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma you don't need to read this one. More of the same. Interesting stuff but I got the point already.

What was most disappointing about Michael Pollan’s story?

Not enough new ideas

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No way. That would be a serious stretch. I guess you could do a documentary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Awesome history of why we are so mixed up !

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Everyone should understand the histrory of what we currently are eating - which isn't food but rather food like products.

What did you like best about this story?

The given reasons of why we are so confused over what is healthy to eat and what isn't.

What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He gave the book the feeling that the Author was there in the room with me giving me a lecture worth my time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Would have liked to but needed to listen to it in installment,

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ocean
  • Portsmouth, NH, United States
  • 08-10-12

Wow

I loved this book and since listening to it a couple of months ago, have changed my eating habits and rarely eat processed food anymore - not that I used to eat much of it before, but this motivated me to decide that I pretty much can live quite happily without it. I feel the information is presented in a logical way that not only educates but motivates. Loved Scott Brick's narration. Would, and have, recommended this to many people.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Worth reading and recommending to friends & family

After visiting my doctor and discovering that I have very high levels of cholesterol, I asked him what kind of diet I should be on and he said I should probably just read this book.

This book is an excellent read (listen) that really appeals to logic and common sense. I think Pollan unpacks and often unravels the history and mythologies built into nutrition science and the modern diet in a well researched, well thought out way. I was particularly surprised at some of the massively important decisions made in America's past (like the development of the Food Pyramid) based on rather insubstantial studies and a large amount of commercial lobbying.

If anything I believe this is an important book just for really pointing out how new and underdeveloped the science of nutrition is and how we should all be very wary of headlines such as "New Study reveals XYZ". In fact, I think it's an important lesson in how science itself works and definitely points out some of it's limitations. Not that science itself is flawed, but that it takes time, research, new tools, new minds, new discoveries until it really gets at the heart of the phenomenon being studied. I think this book highlights the dangers of taking new and underdeveloped science and applying it to public policy.

The book itself does seem a little repetitive, and the reader while good, can sound a bit dry (probably more to do with the subject matter). This is generally why I rate it a 4 instead of a 5.

As for the cholesterol issue, I still am left at the end of this book wondering if it's even something I should be worried about? Is it the cause or just and indicator of possible heart disease...or is it pretty much unrelated? Is it fat or carbs or some combination of those and other nutrients that cause it? Regardless, I think this book has pushed me to embrace a new diet in which perhaps it really doesn't matter what the facts end up being because (in addition to good exercise of course) eating what we've essentially evolved to eat should basically let me live as we evolved to live. Pretty simple concept indeed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book.

Michael Pollan is great. He does his research and he writes well.

I'd recommend reading/listening to this book AFTER The Omnivore's Dilemma, if you're considering reading/listening to both.

The reader is overly dramatic, but you sort of get used to it. I do wish Pollan would pick a new reader for his next book, though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • Saskatoon, SK, Canada
  • 06-05-12

Great advice entertainingly delivered.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It's a pleasure to listen to. I laughed out loud several times. The advice is simple, and I think, right on. It is a fresh informative take on a culturely fraught subject. I recommend listening over reading because the narrator does an excellent job.

What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He's got a good voice. He's enthusiastic, his timing is good and he seems to be genuinely interested in the contents.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful