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Friday, June 12, 2015

A Manifesto and a Mystery

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Micheal Pollan is exactly that--a defense of real food, but it is also an indictment of the over-processed and "edible food-like substances" we consume because they are fast or easy, of the way food is grown (and in the case of meat, the way animals are fed with the food that is grown), of additives and GMOs.   Nothing new in that, but Pollan does gives some interesting history of food science and the food industry and some statistics and examples that are startling.  

His philosophy is distilled into very few words:

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

 Or...real food, smaller portions, vegetables.  

Not as easy to do in today's world, at least here in the U.S.  Is it worth the effort?  For a society raised on quick and easy, huge portions, snacks, and GMO modified heavily promoted "food-like substances," it may not be that simple.  Since I'm already checking labels, Pollan's advice to be cautious about anything with over 5 ingredients or unpronounceable additives is an easy task, but finding items that meet that qualification will not be that easy.  Right now, it is time for Farmer's Markets, which are fun and provide locally grown produce rather than what has been shipped for thousands of miles.

Our food has been altered and over-processed for at least 40 years, and our eating habits and traditions have change almost without our realizing it.  But more and more people are growing indignant about the fact that processes banned in other countries are the norm here, and most people would like our government to be more responsive to the health of its citizens.


Nonfiction.  2008.  Print length:  268 pages.

The Evidence Room by Cameron Harvey is set in Cooper's Bayou, a little back-water town in Florida.  Two young people have recently returned to Cooper's Bayou after long absences.  

Josh Hudson is a cop who has an obsession with finding his older sister.  Aurora Atchison has just returned to settle her grandfather's estate.  When Aurora discovers that perhaps her father was not guilty of her mother's murder, she begins digging into some old secrets that several Cooper's Bayou citizens would rather be left alone.  Josh and Aurora have sad pasts in common, and Josh, who has been placed on administrative leave and "sentenced" to working the evidence room, is inclined to help.

Both characters have tragic and depressing pasts.  It is a bit too coincidental that they both have a murdered family member, a missing family member, and more questions than answers.  The repeated assurances from many different individuals that Josh is a "good man"  got on my nerves.   Aurora doesn't need to be told more than once and having so many characters make the same remark is redundant.  

The Evidence Room is unexceptional.  I wasn't tempted to put it in the DNF pile, but neither did I find it compelling.

ARC from Minotaur Books.

Crime/Mystery.  2015.  306 pages.


  1. I read his first book The Omnivore's Dilemma and enjoyed it. I've always read labels and try to eat little out of cans.

    1. I need to read Omnivore; I've seen it mentioned so frequently in reviews!

  2. Interesting book about food - a bit scary as well maybe as it's not fiction!! It seems that everything we eat these days is processed in some way. People have these fast paced lives and no time for making things.
    Pity about the Evidence Room it sounded like it was going to be good. Shame that.
    Lynn :D

    1. It is a little scary. What with all of the processing and marketing of foods added to the conflicting views of scientists and nutritionists about what to eat or to avoid, it is difficult to feel confident about food anymore. The philosophy of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants" is practical and pretty traditional, but not always that easy to accomplish in our fast paced lives--as you mention.

  3. That is too bad about Evidence Room. I wish it had been better for you.

    My family is terrible about eating. We could definitely be better in that regard.

    1. Evidence Room is OK, but not anything special. Most families today have difficulty finding time to make meals or sit down together to eat them. A contemporary and prevalent situation.

  4. My husband and I are vegetarians so we are more concerned about processed food, additives and GMOs. I think it's hard to have fresh, home cooked food all the time but taking in moderation is the best we can do, I think.

  5. I've read a number of Pollan's books though not this one, they begin to get repetitive after a while and I am like preaching to the choir--I don't need to be convinced. Husband and I are vegan and we don't eat a lot of heavily processed food and even for vegans there is plenty. Food tastes so much better when it is real.