For those who have little time to read a whole book on food but want to know how best to amend their fast-food ways, the central thesis of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food (Penguin) is summed up in the first paragraph: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." But for those who crave a more thorough understanding of the Western diet, its history, and its role in the modern-day paradox of a population that is overweight but malnourished, Pollan's short tome investigates how we have managed to become what we eat. Pollan defends real food against the onslaught of convenience products from the food industry and the nutritional science that has degraded the whole foods that once made up most diets. By taking a reductive view of nutrition, the food industry has removed us from our natural place in the food chain and broken down our foods so that they become less than the sum of their parts. Pollan rebuilds the parts to form more than the whole, and will change the way you look at your next meal.
Tue., May 19, 7 p.m., 2009