In Defense of Food

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In Defense of Food
Defense of food cover.jpg
Author Michael Pollan
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Penguin Press
Publication date
January 1, 2008
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 256
ISBN 0-14-314274-7
OCLC 173243755
617.4/810440922 B 22
LC Class RC1045.P78 M57 2008
Preceded by The Omnivore's Dilemma
Followed by Food Rules

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (released internationally as In Defence of Food)[1][2] is a 2008 book by journalist and activist Michael Pollan. It was number one on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller List for six weeks. The book grew out of Pollan's 2007 essay Unhappy Meals published in the New York Times Magazine.[3] Pollan has also said that he wrote In Defense of Food as a response to people asking him what they should eat after having read his previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.[4]

In the book, Pollan explores the relationship between nutritionism and the Western diet, postulating that the answer to healthy eating is simply to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."[5] Pollan argues that nutritionism as an ideology has overcomplicated and harmed American eating habits.[4] He says that rather than focusing on eating nutrients, people should focus on eating the sort of food that their ancestors would recognize, implying that much of what Americans eat today isn't real food, but "imitations of food."[5] In the book, he distinguishes between food and "edible foodlike substances."[5] Pollan recommends that Americans spend more money and time on food, and buy locally.[6]

Pollan argues that the science of nutrition should not influence people's eating habits because a full range of nutrients has yet to be identified by scientists, and claims that the more focused Americans become on nutrition, the less healthy they seem to become.[7]

In 2009, the University of Wisconsin–Madison selected In Defense of Food as the inaugural book of its Common Read program Go Big Read.[8] A professor from the university's department of dairy science wrote to oppose this decision, saying that Pollan's writing expressed "an individual's biased and disputed view of today's food and agricultural systems."[9]


Preceded by
I Am America (And So Can You!)
by Stephen Colbert
#1 New York Times Best Seller Non-Fiction (first run)
January 20, 2008 - January 27, 2008
Succeeded by
Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography
by Andrew Morton
Preceded by
Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography
by Andrew Morton
#1 New York Times Best Seller Non-Fiction (second run)
February 10, 2008 - March 2, 2008
Succeeded by
Liberal Fascism
by Jonah Goldberg