In Defense of Food
Directed by Michael Schwarz
Kikim Media (2015)
Reviewed by Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD
"What should I eat to be healthy? Busting myths and misconceptions, In Defense of Food reveals how common sense and old-fashioned wisdom can help us rediscover the pleasures of eating and at the same time reduce our risks of falling victim to diet-related diseases." – from In Defense of Food
Synopsis of Film
Based on the 2009 book by the same name, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by food journalist Michael Pollan, discusses why consumers are confused about what to eat. This documentary brings food marketing to the forefront as labels tout "more" nutrient additions while being "free" of less-desired ones; yet, throughout the years, we have seen protein, carbohydrates and fat demonized only to get a reprieve later, leaving people more confused.
According to the film, whole foods provide nutrition the way it was meant to be consumed — in the right amounts and having a synergistic benefit with all the other components contained in natural food. On the other hand, the filmmakers argue, processed foods are often stripped of naturally occurring nutrients while also containing non-nutritive additives and preservatives.
Pros and Cons
Pollan emphasizes: "Eat foods. Not too much. Mostly plants." These seven words are consistent with a solid food message — whole food nutrition — which is what registered dietitian nutritionists promote in every area of practice. As a result of America's obesity crisis, the film suggests the need for people of all ages to get back to eating food in its more wholesome forms as well as increasing physical activity.
Some of the film's "food rules" paint broad strokes on topics that may or may not apply to every person in every life stage, health condition, dietary habit or in every instance of life. Even though Pollan makes a case for vegetarianism, meat is still included as a "food rule."
The "foods to eat more" messaging included in the documentary — along with the reasons why we should do so — are the highlights consumers should feel encouraged to enact in their daily lives.