Book Giveaway: Food Rules

by Sarah Henry on January 27, 2010 · 48 comments

in food book giveaways

Does the award-winning, best-selling author Michael Pollan and his new eater’s manual Food Rules need any introduction?

The haiku version: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

For more on the evolution of Pollan’s latest book, read my recent blog post on Berkeleyside, reprinted yesterday by Civil Eats.

Or tune in today when the good food guru makes an appearance on Oprah, on a show devoted to food issues called, Before You Shop Again: Food 101 with Michael Pollan.

Here’s what I like about this little guide: It’s full of common sense. It’s not preachy or dogmatic.  It’s doable. And it’s all delivered in “cultural blips that stick in your head,” to quote the New York Times Magazine contributor and University of California, Berkeley, professor himself.

Think short, simple, catchy, often funny, nuggets of nutritional wisdom for consumers about consuming:

#18: Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

My 11 year old read Food Rules over dinner, got it, agreed with most of it, and it got us talking about food and meal times in a different way.

That’s the beauty of this book. It’s just a slip of a thing, a glorified pamphlet really, but it could be the starting point to a healthy, lifelong relationship with food.

Do you have a food rule you think belongs in this guide?

Share your idea for a chance to win an autographed copy of Food Rules.

Alternatively, come up with a different title for this manual. When I hear the word “rules” my rebellious nature kicks in. Why not “pearls” or “gems” or even “wisdom”? Got a better title? Bring it on below.

Comments close at 10 p.m. Pacific Time next Wednesday, February 3. Winner chosen at random.

If you’re stuck for suggestions, here’s a tip: While researching this book, Pollan asked readers of the Times blog the Well to pass on ideas. He got, oh, about 2,784 responses (and counting), some of them quite funny:

Only put one meat on the pizza.

Don’t eat anything bigger than your head.

Never eat sushi from a convenience store.

Don’t buy your food where you buy your gas.

Bonus points if you pass on some kitchen wisdom that makes me laugh.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, what’s Pollan’s guiltiest pleasure?

French fries. But don’t sweat it, he’s got it covered with:

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Update: Apologies for my tardiness in following up on this contest. I was out of Internet range for three days and then felled by illness. But I’m back in the saddle today (sort of) and happy to announce that the randomly chosen winner of Food Rules is Heidi Bokor, #14 of more than 40 entrants. Thanks to all for playing — and for great title suggestions, such as Small Bites and Bites of Wisdom, along with all the food rules folks shared below. Look for future food book giveaways coming soon.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin January 27, 2010 at 9:13 am

One rule that I follow, sometimes without thinking, is to treat meat as a garnish. That’s my serious rule.

Your dinner doesn’t have to be based around a slab of meat.

My funny rule is not to eat anything that contains “propellant.” That includes easy cheese, aerosol pancake batter and ready whip.


Cheryl@5secondrule January 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

I’m dying to get my hands on this book, but haven’t yet. I do, however, have the DVR set to tape Oprah today, and I’m looking forward to that. (“I *have* to watch Oprah for work.” Don’t you love saying that?)

My one comment, which, I realize does not qualify me for your contest, is that I think the title is fantastic. I mean, what more beautiful word is there in the English language than Rule? The more Rules the merrier, that’s what we in my family like to say.

I’ll think of a more serious response later in the day and pop back…


Sarah Henry January 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Ah, Cheryl, you are too, too funny. I don’t normally get in the middle of comments on a giveaway but couldn’t resist, in your case.

You and your Rules…What will we do with you all?

On another matter, though, I need your help: Is it the 5 second rule, as I’ve always known it, or as competition entrant Susan Varney indicates below (Hi Susan) the 3 second rule???

It’s neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things but I do wonder about that 2 second difference. Please advise.


Cheryl@5secondrule February 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Always trust Harold McGee (that’s my rule):


Amber G January 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm

This book looks great – I would be thrilled to win!

My food rule is eat some dark chocolate every day.


jo anne allen January 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

i would love to read this book, dying to actually. one rule i follow is eating an apple a day. love them.


susan varney January 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Is the three second rule in there: If you pick it off the floor before then it’s edible?


Elaine R January 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Eat slowly-savor and enjoy your meals.


angie January 27, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Never eat foods where 90% of the ingredients are words that you couldn’t spell or read.


C Hebert January 28, 2010 at 2:47 am

Saw this author on Oprah. Would love to read this book.


Alexandra January 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’d love this book.

My rule is a simple one, inspired by a long-term guest at our green B&B whose daughter has food allergies: always read the ingredients on the label, then, if the edible stuff in question comes in a can, remember the company probably didn’t mention BPA used for the lining. Ie. if possible, always buy fresh ingredients and make the dish yourself.


Sheryl January 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

I love the cereal and milk rule. Fantastic.

Mine? If it’s salty, spit it out.


EMMA L HORTON January 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm



Jennifer Margulis January 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I want this book. I sooo want this book. Some rules: eat freshly picked food raw from the garden (yum); take your time at dinner and enjoy your meal and your family instead of eating standing up with food hanging out of your mouth; forget packaged sh*t wrapped in plastic and instead go for fresh fruits and vegetables…


Kris January 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I love Michael Pollan.

I don’t know that this is a rule so much as a habit, but we have always talked about and traced the path of our food to dirt, with me teasing the kids that dirt made their dinner.

Milk? The cow gives us milk, the cow eats grass…that grows in dirt. Bread? The wheat for bread … grows in the dirt. Lunchables? Starburst? Not so easy.


Sarah Henry February 1, 2010 at 9:44 am

Hi Kris,

Sounds like a great way to teach kids about where their food comes from.


Heidi Bokor January 29, 2010 at 10:37 am

My rule is if it’s green and it’s a vegetable, then it’s the best food you can eat to be healthy, fight or eliminate disease, and have more energy. For a title…how about “Food Rules that Rock!” Sounds interesting. Thanks for this giveaway.


Aisling January 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

How about: If it tastes really, really good, eat it in moderation.

Regarding the 3 or 5 second rule, either way is close enough depending on what you clean your floors with (and, obviously, how often you clean them). If there are chemicals on your floor, use the 0 second rule.


Deborah R January 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

My food rule: Leave “white space” around each food on your plate.


eatsacramento January 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I don’t have any super tips, but I can say that Food, Inc., the documentary, changed my life. We have totally stopped eating processed meat and are primarily veggie eaters now. The occasional meat that we eat comes from local farms that we have visited. I’d love this book, as I’m a raving Pollan fan now. Thanks for the chance, Abi


Stephanie - Wasabimon January 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm

My food rule: use every last veggie in your veggie box, no matter how weird or unfamiliar.


Jennifer January 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Don’t eat whole potatoes shrink wrapped in plastic – the idea was to put the thing in the microwave to steam it. I saw this unholy object in the produce section at Walmart (don’t ask why I was there…I won’t go back).


Mandie January 31, 2010 at 9:49 am

Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

If the bugs won’t eat it, you shouldn’t too. (aka, Twinkies don’t mold. If the mold doesn’t want it, we shouldn’t want it either).


Anna Chan, The Lemon Lady January 31, 2010 at 10:15 am

Great post Sarah. I’m so thrilled to be able to see Michael Pollan speaking in Petaluma next Wednesday. Thank you Oprah for inviting Michael to speak on her show! Otherwise, I would have missed the opportunity (and invite) from Emilee Gettle at Baker Creek Seeds.

Food Rule. How about Food Thrill?

One Person. One Tree. Once in your life:
Taste and experience how thrilling super local, super fresh, tree-ripened food really is. Pick a lemon, orange, grapefruit, peach, pear, plum, apricot, loquat, guava, from a neighborhood tree. It’s a rewarding pleasure to bite into wholesome food directly from its life source.

If you don’t own these trees, no worries, your neighbors do. Make friends too. :) It really is that easy!


Jamie January 31, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I’ve recently been introduced to the food movement. I’m even using my tax return to buy a share in a CSA.

My food rule is to not eat anything that I wouldn’t allow my 3 year old to eat. It’s not always easy, but that means no Chinese, no sugar cereals, no fruit snacks and no garbage food.

As a single mom, it’s hard to find time to cook from scratch. I have been working with a group of other moms to trade what we make. Each of us cooks one thing (i.e. cereal bars, bread etc.) and we swap with each other. It’s a great way to get variety, but still eat homemade food!


Evan Thomas February 1, 2010 at 8:13 am

My food rule, is to never do the “sampling” thing at a buffet or party. Instead, I pick just 3-4 different foods and eat as much as I want of those. You end up eating a healthier amount than if you pick at 12 different things.


Dave February 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

A rule for dining out:

Pass the chain restaurants to try locally-owned independents, you will find a greater variety of food and meet some terrific people.


Derk Thomas February 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Food Recommendations (How to live a healthy life)


Jill, The Veggie Queen February 2, 2010 at 8:33 am

How about this simple one: Eat mostly food that doesn’t come in packages or need labels?

As for the 0 second rule and chemicals on the floor — I love that. But I think that we just don’t get enough good microbes these days so maybe a little more soil and floor dropping is in order.

Thanks for a great post. Hope to see Michael in Petaluma tomorrow. He and I went to school together from 1st grade on.


Stacy February 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I love Michael Pollan. He signed a Twinkie for me when we saw him last year!!! I think a good rule is to not eat meat for every dinner. A few veggie meals saves money and your heart.


karen February 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Use a smaller plate and you will eat smaller portions. Thanks.


Kara February 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Wash your food!

I don’t eat anything with a face, but I think that might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

And – don’t eat anything out of season. It likely was picked to early to have really good flavor and the impact on the environment of shipping it to you for your pleasure is not worth it.


Aaron February 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I would call this book “Small Bites” as in little bits of wisdom are considered “small bites” of wisdom.


Colleen S. February 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

My food rule is to listen to your cravings. It is your body trying to tell you it needs something.


Christina February 2, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Food Bites- instead of Rules would be a cute name-
Add more fiber, eat less dairy and take your time and enjoy the flavor of the food.


Michelle February 2, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Eat real food, not food products. There’s a big difference between the two.


Melanie February 2, 2010 at 10:19 pm

As soon as I’m full, I throw the rest away..otherwise Ill pick at it, and feel sick afterwards.


Elizabeth N. February 3, 2010 at 4:14 am

Bites of Wisdom – how to make smarter eating choices.


Barbara February 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

Slow down. Shop, cook, and eat slowly. Enjoy the process.


christopher h February 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm

listen to your cravings


Ed Nemmers February 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Eat the natural colors of nature.


Kathy S February 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm

My rule is….if you’re craving it so badly that you’ll run to the local convenience store at 11pm……DON’T EAT IT! Obviously it’s a chemical craving. Grab a piece of fresh fruit instead, and if you cut it into many pieces, put it in a bowl and eat with a fork…you’ll enjoy every bite (and save car mileage and gas at the same time!)


Chrysa February 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

If it’s something your great-grandparents couldn’t identify, don’t eat it!


Sand February 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Mine is to eat real food (no fat free, sugar substitute, chemical laden, etc…) in moderation.


Gianna February 3, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Don’t eat food that’s still moving would be one to add ;)


Janet February 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm

small plate= smaLL portions


Buddy Garrett February 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I think avoid any plus, double, or tripling food items is a rule that should be included.


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