Michael Pollan draws a distinction between real food and "edible, food-like substances." Real food is unprocessed and requires little or no ingredient list, in contrast to much of the industrialized, refined, yet often "nutritious" food people can readily find in any American grocery store. In his book, In Defense of Food, Pollan urges readers to de-condition themselves from the rhetoric of nutritionism that plagues American eaters. In the United States, many people become so concerned with the nutritional content of their foods or the regulation of nutritional content that they become ignorant of whether the food is really healthy. Pollan explores the theme of nutritionism in American culture and how attitudes towards food have shifted over the past century or so. He argues that the American public is more satisfied with products which have had nutrients added back in than a real food item which has not been stripped of its nutritional content by processing.
In Defense of Food continue's Pollan's work in urging the American people to reconsider their relationship with food and make an effort to consume more real, whole plant foods.