Food Rules

One of the blogs I follow had a great post last week focusing on the latest book by Michael Pollan, Food Rules, An Eater's Manual. You might be familiar with his other books, which include In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. The blogger listed several of her favorite rules, there are 64, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites.

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

(Imagine your great-grandmother, or even your grandmother picking up a package of Go-GURT Portable Yogurt tubes and no having a clue whether this cylinder of colored and colored gel is food or toothpaste.)

Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.

(Ethoxylated diglycerides? Cellulose? Xanthan gum? If you wouldn't cook with them, why let others use these ingredients to cook for you?)

Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.

(Basically the same idea, different mnemonic. Keep it simple!)

Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not.

(Imitation butter - aka margarine- is the classic example. To make something like nonfat cream cheese that contains neither cream nor cheese requires and extreme degree of processing.)

Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

(The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it typically is. Real food is alive - and therefor should eventually die.)


Don't ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

It's not food if it arrives through the window of your car.

("Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, and other mammals." - Chinese proverb)

Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

(There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries even drinking a soda every now and then, but food manufactures have made eating these formally expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we're eating every day. If you make your own French fries or cakes and pies, chances are you won't be making them everyday.)


Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese, Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.

(People who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than those of us eating a modern Western diet of processed food. Any traditional diet will do: If it were not a healthy diet, the people who follow it wouldn't still be around.)

Pay more, eat less.

(With food, as with so many things, you get what you pay for. There is also a trade-off between quality and quantity, and a person's "food experience".)

"The banquet is in the first bite."

(No other bite will taste as good as the first, and every subsequent bite will progressively diminish in satisfaction.)

Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.

Buy smaller plates and glasses.

(The bigger the portion, the more we will eat - upward of 30 percent more. Research shows that reducing the size of the plate can reduce our consumption by 22 percent.)

"Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper."

Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

(American gas stations now make more money inside selling food (and cigarettes) than they do outside selling gas. But consider what kind of food it is.)


(Cooking for yourself, or if you can afford it, hiring a private chef,  is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors, and to guarantee you're eating real food and not edible food like substances.)

Break the rules once in a while.

(Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness, and probably for your health too. All things in moderation, including moderation."

Source: Food Rules Am Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan.