This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food Rules - An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

I saw Michael Pollan on The Jon Stewart Show promoting this book. What caught my attention, and lured me to this book, was Rule #36:
Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
Brilliant! I totally agree!! I had to find this book and read the rest of the rules.

And I got it fairly quickly off the library wish list. And it is very interesting in a very simple way.

First, from a user experience perspective, this book is well done: 140 pages consisting of mainly one page rules (64 of them). It is also pretty small in size. Not extremely small, as in pocket-sized, but definitely a book that is more portable to put in a bag than a novel.

Although there is an Introduction, which I am not a big fan of, it is a very well written and informative introduction. It actually explains some aspects of what came to the idea of rules. Maybe this is what most Introductions do in other novels, but I find them generally boring and yet I feel compelled to read them and feel ripped off after wards.

It works in this book, IMO, because there is no story. There are simply rules. Easy to read, mainly one sentence rules, with a brief description (again, sometimes).

And these rules are easy to understand. There is no scientific description (perhaps in the paragraphs below the actual one sentence rule) but the rule itself uses terms and analogies that are simple to understand. As I mentioned Rule #36 above -- you get it instantly, right?

He is not preachy but it is easy to see what side of the food debate he comes from (to me and I could be wrong!). But the rules are sensible. The 'real' rule comes in the Introduction:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I can strive for his (above) basic rule, but I know I probably won't follow many of them.

For instance, Rule #14:
Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.
There are many bad foods I still like to eat, funyons being one item I couldn't put in a list of "never" eat foods. And although he mentions moderation for those foods that we should avoid, there is still the air of "you shouldn't".

What I found fascinating did come from the Introduction. Pollan's description of the "Western Diet" is pretty eye-opening. He describes the Western Diet as "...generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains."

Ouch! But so true.

So I recommend reading this one. It's quick and easy. It's not written in a way that comes across as an extremist view. It definitely uses, and validates, some lore ("Old Wives Tales") that many of us probably already follow.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds really interesting. Have you read his book The Omnivore's Dilemma? I found that one fascinating! Sadly, I eat the typical American diet WAY too much, and I have the blubber around my midsection to prove it. :( I'd look a heck of a lot better if I would "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," and yet Five Guys is calling my name!