Latest Reading: Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

I just finished reading Pollan’s latest book. I highly recommend it to everyone! The book is a follow up to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” This book gives advice to people on how to escape from the Western Diet. The Western Diet being the highly processed, unnatural foods for sale in supermarkets. The Western Diet is also the culture surrounding food, or lack of culture. Americans spend less time and money on food than all other countries. They are over fed but undernourished, filling up on sugars, corn and soya derivitives. He goes to great lengths to document the evidence behind Americans’ poor health how it relates to our poor diet.  The unprecedented rising rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancers are caused from the low nutrition, highly processed food products that make up the majority of Americans’ diets. The first part of the book he goes through the history of how we came to this point. The second half, which I will describe here, is advice for people who want to escape the Western Diet.

On a personal note, I am a product of the Western Diet. I remember eating a diet of Wonder Bread, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and Cocoa Puffs. Being outside of the US, has improved my diet, but I am making a committment to eat better and for my family to eat better. As Pollan writes, “In order to eat well, we need to invest more time, effort, and resources.”

Advice to “Escape from the Western Diet”


  • Don’t eat anything my great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.
  • Avoid food products with over 5 ingredients, unfamiliar or unpronouncable names, or containing high fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid “low fat” or foods making health claims.
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket, stay out of the middle. Walls on the outside are the dairy, produce, meat, and fish.
  • Buy food outside of the supermarket (farmer’s markets, etc.)
  • Eat foods when in season.
  • Get to know the food producers.
  • Eat whole grain rice, flour, bread, and sugar. Refined grains are less nutricious than whole grains.
  • Eat as many different foods as possible.
  • Organic fruits and veggies have a higher nutritional content due to better soils.


  • Be a “flexitarian” that is someone that is mostly vegetarian, but will eat meat, fish occasionally.
  • Look for “pastured” label on meat.
  • Buy a freezer and stock up on fruits/veggies when in season or buy 1/2 a cow/pig. Freezing does not diminish nutritional value.
  • Eat wild foods like game and greens.
  • Take a multivitamin after age 50.
  • Drink wine with dinner.
  • Eat traditional cultural foods.

Not Too Much

  • Pay more and eat less – eat better quality foods.
  • Be like the French and don’t take seconds.
  • Eat meals together, children learn manners, conversation, portion size, etc.
  • Do all of your eating at the table.
  • Don’t buy food at a gas station.
  • Don’t eat alone.
  • Smaller portions, smaller plates, more vertical glasses
  • Eat slowly and deliberately
  • Cook as often as possible
  • Plant a garden

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