Michael Pollan’s (and Michelle Obama’s) Food Rules

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Food, IncIn anticipation of the upcoming POV broadcast of Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. on April 21, 2010, we’ll be following food policy and other related news in the coming weeks and months as we work on features for the POV website for Food, Inc..

As we noted in a post last week announcing our upcoming PBS broadcast of Food, Inc., contributor Michael Pollan has been featured on the Daily Show and other media outlets promoting his new book, Food Rules.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual is Pollan’s seventh book and the third in a series of food-related books that includes The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto, which won the 2009 James Beard Award. In compiling his list of 64 simple rules, Pollan told the New York Times’ Well blog that he “consulted folklorists, anthropologists, doctors, nurses, nutritionists and dietitians ‘as well as a large number of mothers and grandmothers.’” He also asked readers of the Well blog to submit their own rules back in the spring of 2009, and compiled his favorite responses in this interactive.

Food Rules bookjacketIn an interview with the Toronto Star, Pollan says that Food Rules is an attempt to further distill everything he has learned about food. He explains, “I did this because I was hearing from lots of medical professionals, doctors and parents that they would love to have something — a pamphlet, really — that pared things down to the essentials. I wanted to reduce the message and get it out to a lot of people who might not be ready or willing to read a whole book.” (Read the rest of the interview.)

In addition to Pollan’s famous maxim from In Defense of Food — “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” — he advises people to “eat cereal that doesn’t change the color of your milk” (rule #36) and, for those of you reading this over lunch at your desk, “do all your eating at a table” (rule #58). Read an excerpt from the book at the Good Morning America website.

Only a week after its release, Food Rules is already sitting at the #2 spot on the bestselling nonfiction paperback list and it’s getting a lot of coverage in print, on-air and online, including one clever post on Obama Foodarama, a blog following the Obama White House food initiatives. Earlier this week, blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan presented a collection of the first lady’s food rules extracted from speeches she has made over the past year. The list includes such edicts as “we eat dinner together as a family” (#3), “if it’s fresh and grown locally, it’s probably going to taste better” (#15) and, my personal favorite, “I love a good candy bar” (#6). (Read more at Obama Foodarama.)

Indeed, even Pollan ends his book on a realistic (and empathic) note: Break the rules once in a while (#64). We are human, after all.

What are your food rules? Share them below or over Twitter. If you’ve already seen Food, Inc., did they change after you watched the film? We’ll list our favorite responses in a future post.

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