Fuel for thoughts


“Nutritionism”—a term popularized by writer Michael Pollan, but originated by the author of this book, Gyorgy Scrinis—defines the assumption that the value of food comes from the nutrients in it, and that the only purpose of eating is to fuel our bodies. Since most of us can't tell what nutrients are in which foods, we rely on experts to tell us what foods are “good” and “bad.” And here our troubles begin, because food science works by experimentation. The concepts of “superfoods,” “toxic foods” and the morass that makes up “processed foods with added nutrients” are some of the oddities with which people have had to contend. Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice (Columbia University Press, $32.95) is a surprisingly clear and readable overview of food and diet. While not as simple as Pollan's advisement to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” it nonetheless provides background for the argument.