In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto Book Critique
McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Subway, Jimmy Johns, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s and countless other food places are visited by thousands of Americans each day. Sadly, because of the convenience and price I am one of these people who give in to the endless fast food options we have in America today. Grocery shopping for most Americans is buying food that is the “best bargain,” or something you can get your moneys worth for. Quantity over quality is the mindset that a lot of people have in today’s society and how can you blame them? With rising costs in every aspect of living, a lot of people cannot afford to purchase organic, better quality food. Reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto has surprisingly helped me in becoming a better consumer and to make healthier choices in what I eat on a regular basis. As the title suggests, throughout the book the author tries to get the reader to take common sense approaches in improving the way they eat. The main argument he points out is that having science incorporated into the way we eat (especially the additives and chemicals put into foods) has vastly decreased the quality of our food and increased diseases and health complications in America. The “Western diet” compared to other regions of the world is obviously not the best diet and it would be in the best interest of everyone to go back to a more traditional diet. Pollan also wants us to remember to “Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants.” Interestingly enough while I was writing this paper I was drinking Mango Passion Fruit Juice from Welch’s and I thought I would read the ingredients because there is a section in Pollan’s book that says to not eat or drink things with ingredients you don not know or cannot even pronounce. My juice contained high fructose corn syrup, filtered water, apple juice concentrate, mango puree concentrate, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium citrate, ascorbic acid, gum acacia, beta carotene (color), and ester gum. Most of the ingredients listed sound like they are from a science laboratory experiment and not the ingredients needed to make simple fruit juice. Pollan discusses many methods and guidelines of how to eat healthy and what foods to avoid and to eat more of. Throughout the book the main arguments that I thought were the most important and that I agree with was that having science dictate what we deem is healthy or nutritious in our diet should be changed and have us go back to traditional diets, that foods are essentially the sum of their nutrient parts, nutritionalism (the history of the isolated nutrients in our diet) is not a good approach to eating and the food manufacturing industry does not help the consumer’s health because all they really care about is marketing their products and increasing yields, and that our mindset when eating and purchasing food should be quality over quantity. The first main argument from In Defense of Food is the one that says having science dictate what we deem is healthy or nutritious in our diet should be changed and we should go back to traditional diets (versus a Western diet). An article by Livestrong.com compares a specific Asian diet versus a western one. The traditional Japanese diet includes fresh fish, rice, soy, vegetables, fruits, and green tea, while the Western diet relies heavily on red meat, poultry, fried foods, and processed foods that are high in salt or added sugar (Campbell). Looking at the two diets from a broad perspective and not from a narrow scientific view, it seems that the Japanese diet seems much more healthy to the consumer. Another few guidelines he lays out is that people should eat whole foods, purchase free range meats, buy from fair and local farmers markets or even directly from the farmer, savor your meals at the table with friends or family, avoid foods your great grandmother would not recognize, and to...
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