1.15.2010

Foodie Book Friday: Food Rules


Michael Pollan, the author of the food-centric titles In Defense of Food, and The Omnivore's Dilemma, has written a new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. His conversational tone, concise writing, cleverness, and reliance on traditional wisdom and common sense make this an invaluable book, one that every American should read.

After a few pages of explanation by way of introduction, the book is split into three parts: 1) What should I eat? (Eat food), 2) What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants), and 3) How should I eat? (Not too much). Each section contains the "rules," for a total of sixty-four, that Pollan defines as "personal policies" meant to guide the modern eater toward making better decisions about food. There is one rule per page, making the book easy to read as well as easy to follow as a day-to-day guide.

It took about an hour to read the book, and after I put it down, I thought to myself, "This should be mandatory reading for every person in America." While he starts the book by saying, "Eating in our time has gotten complicated," Pollan says it comes down to only seven words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It is on these words, and the food traditions of a variety of cultures throughout the ages, that Pollan says we should base our diets. By following even some of the rules, we will start to move beyond the bad-for-us Western diet of heavily processed foods (called "edible foodlike substances" in the book), and move toward a healthier, more traditional diet of foods our great-grandmothers would be able to recognize. In fact, Pollan dedicates the book to his mother, "who always knew butter was better for you than margarine."

This is not a complicated diet based on carb-to-fat ratios or glycemic indices, but rather a compendium of useful, sensible, realistic rules for better, more informed eating. And there is nothing bad about that.

1 comment:

JK said...

I think I may see a future in book reviews...