A pocket compendium of food wisdom-from the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food
Michael Pollan, our nation's most trusted resource for food-related issues, offers this indispensible guide for anyone concerned about health and food. Simple, sensible, and easy to use, Food Rules is a set of memorable rules for eating wisely, many drawn from a variety of ethnic or cultural traditions. Whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat-buffet, this handy, pocket-size resource is the perfect guide for anyone who would like to become more mindful of the food we eat.
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313 of 322 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 starsThis book is necessary..., December 29, 2009
It is amazing how complicated we have allowed our diets, and our understanding of our diets, to become. Even Pollan's most recent book In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto - which seemed to be a pretty simple premise - ended up being a (wonderfully) complicated journey through our food system. So when I read that this book was coming out, I wondered if it was necessary given the wealth of information already covered. The answer is: yes, this book is necessary.
While there are a million other guides to a healthy diet running around out there, few manage to boil down the essentials in such a usable way. Pollan takes the essential and fascinating information that he wrote about in his previous book and simmers it down into a succinct (the book is basically 70 half pages long) "manual" of rules for eating. While this book retains some of the bones of its predecessor, it is by no means a Cliff's Notes version. This manual is essential reading all on its own.
Food Rules is broken down into 3 sections (and this will sound familiar to those that read In Defense of Food): 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 includes 20 or so rules that you can pick and choose from in order to eat a healthy diet. Some of the rules overlap (Avoid food products that contain ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce and Avoid ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry, for instance) and some seem like such common sense that it is almost laughable to include them, but that is why this manual is so important. It distills all of this complex information that we see and hear every day and turns it into something relatable. We know, somewhere in our minds, that certain grains and oils are better than others. Pollan gives us an easy rule to help know which ones are best. We know that most breakfast cereals are little more than desserts and Pollan gives us an easy rule to know which ones are safe. Some rules are humorous (it's not food if it arrived through the window of your car) and some are serious; some rules are easy and others require a bit more dedication. But what this manual has is a wide range of useful tips that can be applied to any life at any time. This is no complicated diet; this is a little pocket book of sensible, realistic rules to help you eat your best.
96 of 98 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 starsFood Rules Rules!, December 31, 2009
I picked up Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, because I have been searching for just this type of book for many of my clients as a New Year's gift. I read the slim book quickly in a bookstore and it is the perfect present for my clients who are not eating healthy diets (but who have confessed they wish to.)
I am an interior designer/organizer and see how my clients eat all the time when I redesign and organize their kitchens. Pollan's In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma are both excellent, but can be intimidating. Not Food Rules--it is short and easy to understand.
The book is divided into three parts and has 64 chapters or rules. The following will give you an good idea of what the book is about: Part I, What should I eat? Includes such chapters as "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food", "avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients", and "avoid foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup".
Part II, What kind of food should I eat? Includes "Eat mostly plants, especially leaves", "eat your colors", and "the whiter the bread, the sooner you will be dead."
Part III, How should I eat? Includes "pay more, eat less," "eat less," and "limit your snacks to unprocessed plant food."
For those of you who desire a healthier diet, Food Rules is a terrific guide that makes understanding what to put into your body simple to understand and implement.
Finally, if healthy eating is a new concept for you, you will find the clever chapter titles easy to memorize, thus making the concept of healthy eating a simple one to learn.
By the author of the award winning book, HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT BEAUTIFY, DETOXIFY & ENERGIZE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HOME & YOUR PLANET.
If you got in on the ground floor, you chewed every page of The Omnivore's Dilemma, (464 pages, $8.00 at Amazon).
If you were a second responder, the first Michael Pollan book you read was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, (256 pages, $7.50 at Amazon), which boils theory and anecdote down to a tasty, healthy feeding strategy.
If you're new to the topic or haven't paid attention --- or love Pollan's work and want to spread the gospel --- here's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (137 pages, $11 retail, $5.50 at Amazon), a skinny paperback that says pretty much everything you'd find in his longer books.
Or you can consider Pollan's reduction of his message to seven words --- "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" --- and read nothing more because you know how to crack that koan and adopt a way of eating that just might save your life.
Why, you may wonder, does a clearly written 256-page book need to be boiled down to 64 general principles?
Those of us who read about food have, in the last few years, been swamped by the language of nutrition. Antioxidants. Polyphenols. Probiotics. Omega-3 fatty acids. But you can know all about this stuff and still not be able to answer the basic question: Yeah, but what should I eat?
Then there are those who have never heard Pollan's message. They're the folks on the coach, eating pre-packaged snack food, sucking down sodas, serving vegetables as an afterthought. In short, people who are devotees of the Western diet --- which is, says Pollan, "the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!"
Pollan wants to help both groups --- and break the cycle of self-created disease.
And the quickest way to do that is through lessons so simple even the guy chowing down a Hungry Man ("It's good to feel full") meal can understand.
"Food Rules" may be short, but it's elegantly organized. Part I addresses the question: What should I eat? (Answer: food.) Part II asks: What kind of food should I eat? (Answer: mostly plants.) And Part II considers: How should I eat? (Answer: Not too much.)
These are un-American answers. Advertising trains us to shop in the center aisles of supermarkets. We've been brainwashed to believe that fast food is food. Because we're so busy, we're encouraged not to cook for ourselves. And that way of living works for us --- right up to the moment we're overweight and diabetic.
But if we break the cycle?
"People who get off the western diet," says Pollan, "see dramatic improvements in their health."
What does Pollan tell you in these pages? Here's a sample:
--- "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
--- "Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce."
---- "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food."
--- "Always leave the table a little hungry.'"
--- "Eat meals together, at regular meal times."
--- "Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car."
--- "Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk."
Pollan would have you only eat junk food you cook yourself. He'd like you to buy your snacks at a farmer's market. He'd like you to use meat as a flavor enhancer, a condiment, an afterthought. And he'd like to see you hurt the bottom line of pre-packaged food companies by paying a little more for real food that's worth eating.
I can imagine a great many of of you nodding in agreement. And feeling superior. And still buying several copies --- to send, anonymously, to loved ones who are eating themselves to death. I can think of no better gift.
Michael Pollan is an American author and a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. His books found wide acclaim and have been on the New York times bestseller list for many weeks.
Michael Pollan has written a number of bestsellers, including the brilliant The Botany of Desire, and he was No. 6 on Newsweek magazine’s list of New Thought Leaders.
Michael Pollan is the author of four previous books: Second Nature: A Gardener's Education, A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder, The Botany of Desire (which received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best nonfiction work of 2001 and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon) and The Omnivore's Dilemma. A longtime contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Pollan is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. His writing on food and agriculture has won numerous awards, including the Reuters/World Conservation Union Global Award in Environmental Journalism, the James Beard Award, and the Genesis Award from the American Humane Association. Pollan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son, Issac.