Broccoli Soup for the Soul

Michael Pollan, the anti-Jenny Craig, has a very important seven-word message for you: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan’s slogan has become the rallying cry for the anti-diet revolution, which is really to say it’s an anti-revolution revolution. His 2006 James Beard Award-winning masterpiece, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, carefully argued against any kind of reductive approach to the food we consume: calorie counting, carb loading or unloading, demonization of fat content, etc. Instead, Pollan advocates a return to the simple wisdom of our great-grandmothers, who, despite their presumed ignorance, were significantly less obese, less cancerous, and less likely to die of a heart attack.

In his new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Pollan continues his argument against food science but also answers the question most of his readers kept asking him: “OK, so what do you eat?” Recognizing that his initial response — “What other animal has to consult an expert in order to decide what to eat?” — was unsatisfactory, he set out to guide the contemporary eater step by step through the modern food landscape, fraught as it is with land mines of false promises. (A general rule: Be wary of any food that makes health claims.) The Knight professor of journalism at the University of California-Berkeley, Pollan is a dynamic speaker not to be missed.
Mon., May 11, 8 p.m., 2009

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