I am about 50 pages into Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food with about 15o to go so this ain’t a book review. However, already, I’d recommend you read it even if you have limited interest in food production (if you don’t care about what you eat then you won’t live too long so make the most of today).
Why? Because Pollan is a next-level communicator and we can all learn from his ability to distill incredibly complex arguments into simple words and manageable causal logic. If you are in communications, marketing or journalism you can learn from this gentleman.
Examples of Pollan’s talent? The guy sums up the entire prescriptive takeaway of his book in the first seven words.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. He continues, That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.
I love the simplicity and concision. It would be great to be this good.
Other initial likes: You can tell very early on that Pollan hates obfuscation through language. Arguably, no group on Earth has a greater tendency to do this than the food industry and he takes umbrage with those players. What the hell is sodium benzoate anyway? So complicated is this lingo, says Pollan, that we are forced to constantly worry about what is good and what is bad. This paranoia grips many a parent.
This book is great if you are into food or health. Even if you aren’t but are fond of communications read it because it is, at least partly, a treatise on the power of language to confuse and induce unhealthy behaviour.
Hopefully it will spur thoughts about how other firms and industries use words to cajole, wheedle, induce, incite, warm and scare.