In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
The message in this book is simple… eat whole foods, don't overeat, and enjoy what you eat. It's seemingly straightforward advice, but far more complex when we look at how our diets have evolved and why.
When I was growing up my mother bought margarine because it was considered healthier than butter. I remember biting into sandwiches made of white bread lined with margarine. She was doing what she thought was best for her family, but we now know that the process used to turn vegetable oil into margarine produces trans-fats.
The food industry has transformed whole foods into something seemingly familiar, yet so different. As a result, our health is now at stake. And...we’ve become so intrigued with individual nutrients that we’ve lost sight of the food itself. Instead of eating the whole food, we’ve been sucked into believing that the transformed is somehow healthier.
In his book, Pollan reminds us that “…even the simplest food is a hopelessly complex thing,” and that by looking at individual nutrients, we lose sight of what truly makes food good. He recommends that we grow our own food or get it from a local source (like a farmers market), and when we can we should purchase organic. Pollan reminds us that even though processed foods may be cheap, convenient and require little effort to prepare, they come at a great cost to our health.
If you’re interested in developing a more complete understanding of what we we find in the aisles at the grocery store, you should read this book. I would also recommend reading “The Omnivore's Dilemma.” In fact, I would read that first. Either way you’ll finish this book with a better understanding of our food industry and our health as a nation... and the next time you enter the grocery store you'll make informed, healthy choices.