Michael Pollan's Picks

Book Cover Image. Title: Salt Sugar Fat:  How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Author: Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat

Michael Moss

Moss has written a Fast Food Nation for the processed food industry. Burrowing deep inside the big food manufacturers, he discovered how junk food is formulated to make us eat more of it and, he argues persuasively, actually to addict us. Moss also got food company executives to reveal their inner deliberations about things like the obesity epidemic -- about which they decided only to pretend to do anything -- and the troubling parallels between their industry and the tobacco industry.
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Book Cover Image. Title: All Natural*:  *A Skeptic's Quest to Discover If the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier, Author: Nathanael Johnson

All Natural*

Nathanael Johnson

This is a quirky and fascinating book, one of a kind. Johnson's parents were stalwart hippies and raised him according to the orthodoxy that whatever is most natural is best, so: natural childbirth at home, no sugar in the diet, no clothing on the baby (not even diapers!), natural medicines etc. Johnson decides to examine the scientific basis of these practices, and lo and behold, discovers more justification than you would expect for a radically less-industrialized approach to managing the various stages of development, life and death.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Wild Ones:  A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America, Author: Jon Mooallem

Wild Ones

Jon Mooallem

Mooallem, a contributing writer to the NY Times Magazine, has written a brilliant piece of what I think of as "post-wilderness" nature writing. Using the case studies of the polar bear, the little-known Lange's metalmark butterfly, and the whooping crane, he casts a completely fresh eye on the extinctions going on around us, using them to explore our schizophrenic attitudes toward animals as well as our own place in nature. The book is as funny as it is sad, beautifully observed and written, and wiser about the human condition than anything I've read in a long time.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Farmacology:  What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, Author: Daphne, M.D. Miller M.D.

Farmacology

Daphne, M.D. Miller M.D.

Miller is a family care doctor in San Francisco who decided to take seriously Sir Albert Howard's famous injunction that we treat "the problem of health in soil, plant, animal and man as one great subject." So what does the practice of sustainable agriculture have to teach modern medicine? What are the links between soil health and the health of the people who eat from that soil? What can the farmer teach the doctor? A highly original and compelling work of exploration with large implications for our understanding of health.
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Book Cover Image. Title: An Epidemic of Absence:  A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases, Author: Moises Velasquez-Manoff

An Epidemic of Absence

Moises Velasquez-Manoff

What in the world does the ecosystem of microbes living in the gut have to do with the development of autism or heart disease or allergy? Quite possibly everything, according to this masterful work of science writing. This is one of the first comprehensive reports from the most exciting frontier in modern medicine: the microbiome, the genes of the microbes who share your body. It turns out their genes may matter more to your health than your own.
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