In Defence of Food: The myth of nutrition and the pleasures of eating
Allen Lane, $32.95 pb, 256 pp
In Defence of Food is several books rolled into one. It is a primer on nutrition science, a contextual exposé on what we put in our mouths, an advertisement for the joys of eating and even something of a self-help diet and behavioural book. It is also part of Michael Pollan’s ongoing conversation with the reading (and eating) public, and is more satisfying when placed within his oeuvre, particularly The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006).
Mostly, though, In Defence of Food is a polemic about ‘the problem of the Western diet, and how we might plot our escape from it’. Pollan even cites a shiny new eating disorder for us to worry about: an ‘orthorexic’ is a person ‘with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating’. While Pollan writes about the United States, we only have to read the ingredient lists on our supermarket products, or reflect upon the controversy over the meat-heavy (or meat-rich, depending on your viewpoint) CSIRO diet books, to recognise the Australian relevance of the ‘Western diet’ debate.