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In Defense of Food

July 24, 2009


In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan



I loved this book. It was eye-opening, but yet felt like common sense. Common sense that I didn’t know.

I devoured this book, because it felt like sitting down to coffee (organic and fair trade 😉 ) with a good friend – who wanted to tell me “look. the way you’re eating isn’t healthy. It’s not just about balancing the food pyramid and calories. Where does your food come from?”




Food is not just the sum of it’s nutrients. A whole grain is more than fibre. While foods can be broken down into nutrients, manufacturing those nutrients in to a food does not a healthy food make.


The most significant example to me, that jumped off the page, was margarine. I’ve bought/eaten margarine my entire life. The fat phobia of the 80’s/90’s led to a fear of saturated fat (aka butter). Voila! Margarine is low in saturated fat. Until trans fats were discovered. oops. A not-great fat was replaced with a death-fat. Good move! Most margarine is now ‘trans fat free’… but what else does this manufacture food contain? We may have been better off staying with margarine.


In Defense of Food stressed eating foods as opposed to nutrients. Humans can survive on many diets (from vegetarian to almost entirely meat based) but are not doing so well on the Western diet. But processed food is everywhere! How can we eat less?

  • Shop the outside edges of grocery stores
  • Shop at Farmer’s Markets
  • Cook meals!

“Foods” that were imitations of real foods were required to be labelled as so until 1973. Imitation food has gone on to take over the world. Would we want to eat granola bars knowing they contained imitation chocolate? Or various ‘light’ breads if we knew they were only imitations? Or what about that imitation butter, margarine? Another aspect that In Defense of Food opened my eyes to: the governments has not been our best advocate with regards to nutrition.


I highly reccomend this book. It’s started me on a new journey to learn about the food I eat, and where it comes from…


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