things i learned from michael pollan

i’m so late to jump on this bandwagon, but i just finished reading michael pollan’s in defense of food (he also wrote food rules and the omnivore’s dilemma).  initially, it read a bit textbooky to me, but about half way through, i started getting really into it.  what i like about this book is that it’s not preachy and he’s not telling you exactly what you should be eating.  it’s more of a guide to helping you make the right choices.  pollan tells you what to look out for and what not to be fooled by.  there’s a lot of useful and important information in this book, but there are a few lessons that have stood out to me:

1.) though the french typically eat fatty foods, they have lower rates of heart disease and diabetes than americans (or western dieters) because the portions are smaller and they don’t go back for seconds.

2.) always check the ingredients.  if you can’t pronounce it or recognize it, then it’s best to steer clear.

3.) people of all cultures around the world have managed to have completely different eating habits and lifestyles and stay much healthier than westerners.  for example, mountainers in switzerland consumed a mostly meat diet and showed no signs of tooth decay.  people in the hebrides existed mostly on seafood and oats.  what they had in common was that they were eating real, fresh and nutrient-rich foods.

4.) foods that go out of their way to make health claims are not as healthy as they claim.  “low-fat” or “no fat” usually means an extra boost of sodium, sugar and/or other additives.

5.) the best foods at the supermarket can generally be found on the outskirts (fruits, veggies, yogurts, milk, eggs), while the worst are usually sandwiched between these aisles (potato chips, cookies, artificial fruit juices, sugar-packed cereals).

6.) we should be eating real food.  period.

at times, pollan’s advice can be hard to follow (i.e. buy a whole hog, chop it up into pieces and freeze them).  but the overall message is quite powerful and yet so simple.  common sense!  and sadly, not so common.

highly recommended read for anyone who is looking to better their diet.

-jillian m.

21 responses to “things i learned from michael pollan”

  1. kat @ featherfactor says:

    I loved the Omnivore's Dilemma…I need to check this out as well. Thank you for the summary….so interesting :)

  2. Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} says:

    Great post. Love these points. I've been learning and trying to obey all of them throughout the last 6 months as we have taken healthy eating to a whole other level of awesome. I think point 3 is of particular interest simply because finding real food can be so difficult here in America. Are we too far gone?

    That, my friend, is why I started my patio veggie garden. :)

  3. Valerie says:

    I've actually never heard of this book (I think I've been living under a rock) but I love all the concepts you discussed. I might have to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Cat says:

    I am obsessed with checking ingredients and do try to stay clear of over processed foods (though it is quite difficult at times!)

    xx Cat brideblu

  5. Caroline says:

    Great book!!! However, I finished up a course on Sustainability and one of the articles we read was an article about how localism isn't ideal for everyone … the concept of food privilege, access, elitism. It was something I hadn't considered before … really really interesting. XO!!!

  6. jillian m. says:

    hannah – that's a great idea. i've always wanted to grow my own herbs and spices, like chives and basil.

    cat – i know! it's terrible how we can so easily access all this processed food. i try myself, but it gets difficult.

    caroline – i think pollan lightly brushes over that topic. not everyone can afford to buy better foods, which is a shame. all these junky, processed foods come up such a low price and the foods that are good for you can be quite expensive. so to even out the scale, he suggests buying real food, but less of it (easier said than done). but of course, there's also the matter of access. stores in poorer neighborhoods tend to be fully stocked in processed foods and extremely limited in real food. what a great point you bring up!

  7. Marcie says:

    Great advice! I need to read ingredients more. :)


  8. The Many Colours of Happiness says:

    This sounds like a great book! I love the advice. When I went to Vietnam, everything we ate was so fresh, I have never tasted anything like it!

  9. la petite coquine says:

    LOVE Michael Pollan-such sensible, terrific advice! While I don't often cut up a whole hog, I will confess that my parents have two deers in the fridge that John butchered the last time we were there (they had both been injured and my parents were concerned by how much pain they were in)!

  10. LCR says:

    great post:) and so true. I need to get my hands on those books, but I really agree with eating as whole and natural as you can. I happy to be allergic to gluten and dairy, and it's forced me into a very natural lifestyle- yay:)
    thanks for sharing this advice.
    ps. thanks for coming my and commenting on my site too:) appreciate it.

  11. Aquí says:

    I'm taking your advice! This is my next read :) Thanks for sharing!

  12. Dancing Branflake says:

    I already follow his advice BUT have a really hard time with some of them. Especially the REAL food one. So many times I'm on the go that I forget. I really need to change that habit.

  13. Gloria says:

    these are fabulous tips! i'm always striving to eat as healthy as possible, but there's still much room for improvement. i definitely need to work on #4!

  14. Simone says:

    I've been wanting to read this book! I am all about eating local, fresh, sustainable food. Another great person to check out for that sort of thing is Jamie Oliver. His cookbook Jamie at Home- and show of the same name- are all about creating easy, seasonal recipes that are delicious and wholesome.

    One thing to add about the French and other European cultures is that they walk so much more than we do in the US. I've also heard that France's consumption of red wine correlates with their heart health.

    Great post!

  15. jillian m. says:

    i just saw jamie oliver on television yesterday and thought, i should get his cookbook!

    i love that i have a legit reason for drinking a glass of red everyday!

  16. My Fashion Dolly says:

    Hi Jillian, what a great post! I'm gonna make sure to read that book, it's sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing. Xoxo

    Rocio R.

  17. elizabeth / sophisticated pie says:

    great post. Pollan does make really good points in this book. Have you seen Food, Inc.? That's interesting too

  18. rebecca says:

    i learned so much from reading this a while back. well, i learned some things and was reminded of some things i needed to be doing. i made the husband read it as well, and we have eaten healthier ever since. the book had a huge impact on both of us. glad you liked!

  19. Alena says:

    I haven't read this yet, but you've inspired me to read it. Ben and I are really trying to change our eating habits–we've recently given up meat {I've been a vegetarian most of my life, but I started eating it again about 3 years ago} and are really trying to only eat unprocessed foods. It's quite a challenge, but we are getting better and better with it :)

  20. Linda [the young curator] says:

    loving point #4

    i hate buying/eating "low-fat" "fat-free" "zero-calorie" foods. they never taste as good, and they're always loaded with hidden food dangers!

    plus, as if i needed another excuse to go indulgent in the desserts i eat ;]

  21. Linda [the young curator] says:

    loving point #4

    i hate buying/eating "low-fat" "fat-free" "zero-calorie" foods. they never taste as good, and they're always loaded with hidden food dangers!

    plus, as if i needed another excuse to go indulgent in the desserts i eat ;]

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