You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

My Photo
Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, February 18, 2008

In Defense of Food

Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food is not a book I would ordinarily have picked out to read. But it turned out to be an engaging treatise on an important subject: the quality of our food.

Pollan expands on the central dictum: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The catch is that most of what we see at the grocery store is not food, but processed nutrition. Pollan makes a big distinction between raw food that comes from nature and products that have been through the industrial processing to remove the parts that don't hold up well for storage, and refine it to have more calories, in the form of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. But all this processing removes the vitamins and minerals that are required for our bodies. And whenever science discovers an imortant nutrient that's missing from the processing, the food processors add it back in, claiming new health benefits.

What's more, the very raw food that's the source of these products is less and less nutritious, due to farming methods that promote fast growth over absorption of nutrients, and the wearing out of soil. Moreover, species have been homogenized, and the single species farming has led to more disease. Instead of fruits and vegetables, our diet has become more dominated by corn syrup, refined grains, and saturated fats.

Pollan provides a lot of historical context, showing political, economical, and commercial forces that have come together to produce the "Western disease." He shows that wherever a society adopts a Western diet, what soon follows is an onslaught of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Humans have evolved with their environment to be able to survive on varied diets, but the Western diet is just too deficient to be healthy.

To his credit, Pollan admits that's it's not always easy to eat good food, with the glut of processed products on the shelves and organic foods being expensive for most people. But he does lay out the framework for choosing healthy foods. With his guidelines, I feel like I have a new outlook on eating. I'm glad my wife encouraged me to read it, so much so that I think it's an A.


Blogger Deirdre said...

I make sure I eat 1 cup of salad and 1 cup of vegetables with lunch and with dinner. It's amazing how filling they are, and how much less I overeat, even on really tasty foods.

12:36 PM, February 19, 2008  
Blogger Dylan Peters said...

I too have noticed how having a salad or some other vegetables to eat with a meal helps me eat less of the meat and carbs. It's replacing the fatty or refined calories with foods that have more nutrients. And it helps that my drink of choice is water.

10:50 PM, February 25, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home