“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food” is one of author Michael Pollan’s most important “Food Rules.” It is one of the many cautions he offers in his books and in his upcoming film, In Defense of Food, which debuts on PBS on December 30. Pollan’s books and film are all about eating healthy and eating happy, and he serves up his views with humor and intelligence in an educational and entertaining manner that are meant to help people make the most of what and how they dine.
In Defense of Food premieres on most PBS stations at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, December 30.
For those tired of reality TV cooking competitions, cuisine-centric travel shows, diet fad infomercials or doom-and-gloom news reports about unhealthy foods, In Defense of Food will be a breath of fresh air or, perhaps more accurately, a delightful video appetizer that will help relieve viewers of the angst and guilt they might feel when sitting down to dine. Noted food writer Michael Pollan leads viewers to the modern table by taking a look at how and what people around the world and throughout history ate and still eat. Along the way he debunks some of the modern myths about what is and what is not good to put on a plate, and also offers some common sense advice as to how to take the guilt out of eating.
Michael Pollan knows a lot about food. A noted essayist, Pollan has written seven books, four of them best-sellers, on the history and culture of eating. The title of this film comes from one of those, his 2008 work In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Award-winning filmmaker Michael Schwarz lets Pollan do what he does best as he follows him from the hunter-gatherers of prehistoric Africa to the chefs of modern Paris, with stops along the way to visit the blubber-eating Inuit of the Arctic to the vegetarian dinners of a Seventh Day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California. The journey is a fascinating and entertaining one, and instead of preaching about what is bad concentrates on teaching what is good.
Pollan’s rules about what to eat and what not to eat are more guidelines than commandments, and are rooted in common sense. These include points like “Avoid foods you see advertised on television” and “Serve the vegetables first.” Other points are more surprising, such as “Eat more like the French do,” and “treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food.” While Pollan is very much about how people should “Eat mostly plants,” he is no vegan task-master or vegetarian activist. He knows that people crave foods with sugar, fat, and salt, and also will at times ignore his advice to “stop eating before you’re full.” For those people, which are most people, he has one final and very important rule: “Break the rules once in a while.” His film will help people do just that, while it may also help them eat healthier, and eat happier.