Mark Bittman and David Katz’s How to Eat is an expansion of this excellent article about how to eat well. The question that always arises when a great article is expanded into a full book is, did it need to be? Was there really enough there to justify a full book, or did someone just want to cash in on the success of something that was perfect at its original length?

In this case, the answer is: sorta both? The book retains the primary virtue of the article—its Q&A format and breezy tone—but I don’t know that it really gives you any better advice about its ostensible topic. If you really wanted to know how to eat, you could read the original article and give the book a miss. There’s more detail in the book, but nothing that fundamentally changes anything.

The main thing the book actually adds is a defense of nutrition science, and I think this is where Katz (who is a nutrition scientist) is coming to the forefront of the writing duties. Because the thing is, the easy conclusion from reading the original article is that nutrition science isn’t worth a damn, and that in this particular field, we should just ignore science altogether and focus on more traditional ways of knowing things. The book doesn’t exactly disagree with this, but it does try to carve out a space for science to augment and enhance the knowledge we have from rough empiricism and common sense. So if you’re of a science-y bent and you’ve been disturbed by the apparent failures of nutrition science, hey, here’s some consolation for you.

For most people, though, this counts as a breezy, interesting-enough, but probably inessential book; you could totally just read the article and leave it at that


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