Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Secret to Life

Our shelves are brimming with books on how to stay healthy and lose weight. Every year a new crop of diet fads emerge: low-carb, high-protein, low-fat, high-fiber. The simple answer - eat less and exercise more - seems to please no one. When it comes to health advice, Michael Pollan offers another seemingly simple rule to live by: "eat food, not too much, mostly plants". You can glean this and many other fascinating pieces of information and advice from his new book In Defense of Food: an eater's manifesto. You may have heard him interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air earlier this month, and I can attest to the fact that he is just as entertaining and interesting in print as he is on the radio. I will warn you, however, that there will be numerous times while you read this book that you will flinch in recognition of your bad habits. Yes I eat at my desk, and yes I have eaten in my car while I was driving, and no I do not make a consistent effort to eat minimally-processed foods. But guilt aside, this is a great read. According to Pollan, American gas stations make more money selling food and cigarettes than they do selling gasoline (one of his rules for eating is Don't Get Your Fuel From the Same Place Your Car Does). It is information like this that makes this book a must for everyone's reading list. And since it's well-written, it makes the medicine go down a little easier.

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