Thoughts on In Defense of Food

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This was a very interesting lesson, I have been trying to eat healthier and learn about nutrition this past year. After reading the book many of the questions I had about health became clear. For example, why are there so many differing opinions on health? Because we don’t know as much as we think we do about nutrition. I think the facts that stood out the most to me were that “western diseases” are not just caused by us living long enough to get them, as I had always assumed, but because of our diet. Also, I was left deeply troubled by the way that the government is influenced by the pressures of the agriculture business.

More personally I love eating meat but I am seriously reconsidering both the type of meat I purchase as well as the person I am buying it from, after learning the dangers having too much meat in the diet (red meat especially) increasing risk of heart disease and cancer (pg. 166). I enjoyed reading Pollan’s checklist for healthy eating and seeing how I stand up to it. I admit I checked my bread and was shocked to count 26 ingredients many of which I had no idea what they were there for. Also, interesting to me was how you shouldn’t look for a magic bullet in traditional diets, that most likely it is the way the foods react together that promotes the greatest health benefits.

In terms of questions I want answered during the quarter, I think the big one is; what are our options for solving or changing the food system to a more healthy and sustainable one? Another question I have is if reductionist science is unsuccessful in studying nutrition what are some alternatives?


Pollan, M. (2009). In defense of food : An eater’s manifesto. New York, New York: Penguin Books.

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