08 October 2011

Weekend Cooking: Review: Food Rules by Michael Pollan, Illustrated by Maira Kalman

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


I can't tell you how excited I was to see the book I'm sharing with you today show up in my mailbox this week. I opened the envelope and sat right down to read the book. Well, actually, to savor the illustrations.

I've been a fan of Michael Pollan's since he wrote The Botany of Desire (2001), and I've been of fan of Maira Kalman's for almost as long. When I heard the two were joining forces to create an updated and illustrated edition of Pollan's Food Rules, I knew I had to own the book.

I haven't written about Pollan here because I absorbed his philosophy in the days before I was blogging. But I raved about Maira Kalman's And the Pursuit of Happiness in a post I wrote last fall.

So what are Pollan's rules and why should you care? Most of you probably know that Pollan has a very simple attitude toward food and good, healthful eating:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
The 83 rules he presents in this new edition of Food Rules are simply ideas, suggestions, or triggers to help you embrace those three sentences. He didn't make up all the rules--some are common sayings, some were solicited from his readers, for example--and he freely admits that many are overlapping. And, in fact, that's the point. His goal is to "simplify your eating life" and he encourages you to "adopt whichever [rules] stick and work best for you."

I like Pollan's rules and have been following them myself for most of my life. Some I picked up years ago:
Rule 13: Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
Others fit my own philosophy, although I hadn't distilled them to a snappy sentence:
Rule 57: If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you're probably not hungry.
When Food Rules first came out, I looked through it at the library and added it to my list of recommended titles to use when friends asked me to help them revamp their eating habits. But when Maira Kalman came onboard, Food Rules became a book I had to own, and I've now added it to my list of great gift ideas.

You won't find 83 illustrations in this short book, but you'll find many and they're all beautiful. Food Rules is printed on glossy, thick paper that makes the paintings pop. The two scans I'm sharing here do not come close to beauty of the book in hand, but they'll help you see why I love Kalman's work. Be sure to click on the images to enlarge them.

Rule 24:
The end:
May your tables always be laden with good, real, healthful food.

Food Rules at Powell's
Food Rules at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Penguin Press, November 1, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781594203084
Source: review (see review policy).
Rating: A
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Louise 10/8/11, 6:21 AM  

Oh I just love this book. I love the rule about not eating cereal that colours the milk. How lovely to have an illustrated version. I didn't know that this version existed. I'll keep an eye out for it. I leant my copy to a friend and haven't seen it since!

Rikki 10/8/11, 6:54 AM  

That sounds like a VERY interesting book. I will have a look for it. I love the rule with the apple.

Heather 10/8/11, 8:21 AM  

This sounds like my kind of book! I'm so glad you brought it to my attention!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 10/8/11, 8:38 AM  

Kalman's illustrations are wonderful! What a super way to get Pollan's book into even more hands - very inviting.

I'll be picking this up when it's out in a few weeks.

Heather 10/8/11, 8:53 AM  

I've heard of the short book, but this one sounds like one to keep on the coffee table. Great.

Mary (Bookfan) 10/8/11, 8:55 AM  

I love the illustrations! Definitely going to look for this book.

JoAnn 10/8/11, 9:16 AM  

I'm a huge fan of Pollan and I loved Maira Kalman's And the Pursuit of Happiness, too. This is definitely a book for me!! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Sandy Nawrot 10/8/11, 9:22 AM  

OMG I loved And the Pursuit of Happiness. Thanks to you! Now Pollan has scared me a little because I am not much of a plant eater. But I like the rules you listed here and I could definitely live with them. I'm off to my library website, poste haste.

Beth 10/8/11, 9:26 AM  

I read Food Rules several years ago and it helped shape my eating philosophy as well. Pollan does a good job of making eating well seem easy.

caite 10/8/11, 9:27 AM  

well, the rules you quoted are all true, so I guess I have to check out the rest!

rhapsodyinbooks 10/8/11, 9:31 AM  

I just love Maira Kalman. I don't get these rules though. Are chocolate chips plants?

Julie P. 10/8/11, 9:52 AM  

I am getting this one now! Looks terrific.

bermudaonion 10/8/11, 10:06 AM  

I wonder if they've come out with a new version. My copy of this book doesn't have any illustrations.

Zibilee 10/8/11, 10:17 AM  

A lot of these rules sound like things that I could use in my life. While I do follow some of them, others are new to me (like the business about eating an apple) I bet this book could teach me and my family quite a lot, and so I will be looking for it. I love that the illustrations are so vivid and wonderful as well.

Nan 10/8/11, 11:14 AM  

Thank you, thank you! I'm going to order one for both my kids, and maybe myself, too! I love rule 57. Isn't that the truth. And I would add, don't stuff yourself so you aren't hungry for that apple. :<) Thanks again - I hadn't heard of this book.

Belle Wong 10/8/11, 11:48 AM  

I really really want this one - the illustrations are lovely!

Beth S. 10/8/11, 1:20 PM  

I love that Food Rules has become an illustrated picture book! This is the first I've heard of it but I'm so going to read it! I love Michael Pollan. I actually haven't read the original Food Rules, but I've acquired a lot of his philosophies just from hearing him speak on television appearances such as Oprah and Dr. Oz. I tried reading The Omnivore's Dilemma once but found it much too technical and difficult to follow. Food Rules though seems like it's much more straightforward so I think I'm going to have to read the original as well as the picture book.

I love Rule #57. So true. Though now I'm hungry for an apple (I must be REALLY hungry then).

Margot 10/8/11, 1:38 PM  

I also loved And the Pursuit of Happiness. Her illustrations would make it worth getting the updated version of Food Rules. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Nari @ The Novel World 10/8/11, 8:24 PM  

Wow, you got a really fancy edition of the book! The copy I read was the paperback with no illustrations, just bullet point chapters. This versions seems like a great one to use with kids and the healthy-eating-habits talk.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 10/8/11, 8:40 PM  

It took me forever to figure out how to get my pics off my new phone for my post today...LOL

I like the pictures in this book!

Vasilly 10/8/11, 9:22 PM  

OMG! I am so happy that you decided to review this! I had no idea that Pollan and Kalman were publishing a book together. I can't wait to read this.

Uniflame 10/9/11, 3:20 AM  

This book looks awesome! I am not one who would be buying a diet book, but this book looks like it has a totally different approach. It are not rules, but guidelines ;)

(somehow I have a thing that when I am told I have to do something, I will be going in the opposite way)

Amanda 10/9/11, 8:33 AM  

I read The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food this summer and both were brilliant. The Omnivore's Dilemma is one of my top reads of the year. I saw Food Rules (though not with illustrations...) at Half Price Books about a month ago, but I noticed it was the same rules as he puts up in In Defense of Food, so while tempted, I didn't buy the book. Still, I know what this book has to say and I love it!

Gnoe (@Graasland) 10/9/11, 8:48 AM  

Looks like such a fun book to browse through! And I fully agree with rule #57... But I sometimes just don't feel like eating an apple!

Heather S-G 10/9/11, 9:31 AM  

Oh, I LOVE Food Rules! I used to carry a copy around in my bag wherever I went to show to people. No joke. HA!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 10/9/11, 11:41 AM  

Awesome!! I've been wanting to try one of Pollan's books and this seems like the perfect excuse to pick it up. With our household allergies (or hubby's), eating fresh is tough but I'm always trying to re-evaluate our eating.

Kate 10/9/11, 1:30 PM  

This looks really lovely, and something I'd like to take a look at. I've never read any Pollan but feel like I've absorbed at least some of his philosophies for the number of times I've heard radio interviews with him!

Lisa@ButteryBooks 10/9/11, 2:22 PM  

This is a book I think my kids would enjoy as well. I try to teach them healthy eating and seeing the rules in illustrations will hopefully help them remember them.

Anonymous,  10/9/11, 3:34 PM  

Just checked our local library online catalogue. Glad to see they have this one. Beth, my apologies for the double entries on M. Linky. My hand slipped 1st time. - Fay

Karen White 10/9/11, 3:45 PM  

Love that rule about the apple - it's one I often use with my kids if they want a snack, and they haven't eaten many fruits or veggies that day. I also love the idea of this book as a gift for people who are thinking of changing how they eat (and purchase food). Thanks for the clarification on the Weekend Cooking posts - sometimes the weekends are too crazy for getting to the blog so that's good to know.

Peaceful Reader 10/9/11, 5:15 PM  

I love Pollan's philosophy and the addition of these beautiful illustrations makes is like great window dressing, luring us in.

I will keep my eye out for it-it would make a great Christmas gift for family.

Joy Weese Moll 10/9/11, 5:36 PM  

I'm going to have to buy this for a Christmas gift for a nephew or niece so that I can sneak read it before giving it to them!

dog eared copy 10/9/11, 7:46 PM  

I just linked up my first Weeken Cooking post! It's probably not what you were thinking when you set up this feature; but it does cite three books and food!

Robin M 10/9/11, 11:36 PM  

Sounds quite interesting. I like the rules you mentioned. Will have to check it out.

Cathy 10/10/11, 6:06 PM  

I'm going to get a copy of this book. Thanks for sharing!

Buried In Print 10/17/11, 4:58 PM  

I liked this wee book when it was boring (i.e. unillustrated); now it sounds like a wonder-book. Yay!

Anonymous,  10/24/11, 1:15 PM  

Ooh, pretty. I lent out my original Food Rules and never got it back...maybe that's justification for buying the new prettier version?

Michelle 10/29/11, 6:16 PM  

Ok, so now I need to know why I shouldn't shop in the middle of the grocery store.

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