Michael Pollan – Food Rules


Michael Pollan is an American journalist and author who explores the intersection between nature and culture. He has written widely on the food we eat.

Several of his books have been turned into TV shows, including the Netflix documentary Cooked.


“Eating in our time has become complicated – needlessly so, in my opinion.

…But, for all the scientific and pseudo-scientific food baggage we’ve taken on in recent years, we still don’t know what we should be eating.

…A few years ago, feeling as confused as everyone else, I set out to get to the bottom of a simple question: what should I eat? I’m not a nutrition expert or a scientist, just a curious journalist hoping to answer a straightforward question for myself and my family.

…The selection of food rules below are less about the theory, history and science of eating than about our daily lives and practice. They are personal policies, designed to help you eat real food in moderation and, by doing so, substantially to get off the western diet. I deliberately avoid the vocabulary of nutrition or biochemistry, though in most cases there is scientific research to back them up.”

Michael Pollan - Food Rules Manifesto

Two Principles

“There are basically two important things you need to know about the links between diet and health, two facts that are not in dispute. All the contending parties in the nutrition wars agree on them. And these facts are sturdy enough that we can build a sensible diet upon them.

The first is that populations that eat a so-called western diet – generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and wholegrains – invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes. Eighty per cent of the cardiovascular diseases and more than a third of all cancers can be linked to this diet.

Secondly, there is no single ideal human diet; the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of different foods. And there is a third, very hopeful fact that flows from these two: people who get off the western diet see dramatic improvements in their health.”


Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.

Get out of the supermarket whenever you can.

Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans. (not corporations)

Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.

Treat meat as a flavouring or special occasion food.

“Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating that which stands on four legs [cows, pigs, and other mammals].” (Chinese Proverb)

Eat your colours.

Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.

Sweeten and salt your food yourself.

“The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”

Have a glass of wine with dinner.

Stop eating before you’re full.

Do all your eating at a table.

Break the rules once in a while.




This is a beautiful example of a rules based manifesto with the two most important parts on clear display.

First, the context: what should I eat? (I probably would have called this the ‘What should I eat?’ manifesto)

Second, the rules: 15 personal policies that Pollan offers.

What I particularly like here are the word choices in the rules. They are casual and informal which make this manifesto accessible and they support the view that he is not trying to present science, theory or history – instead something practical. They are also a healthy mix of clarity and intrigue.

Some rules are very clear:

  • Get out of the supermarket whenever you can.
  • Stop eating before you’re full.
  • Break the rules once in a while.

Others force you to stop, think and ask: what does he mean by that? For instance:

  • Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
  • Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.
  • Eat your colours.

While the goal in this second group is to prompt engagement, the true test here is: once they are explained, do they add value? Are they easily understood and applied?

For example, ‘eat your colours’. As soon as you know that Pollan is talking about eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables that come in a wide range of colours, this becomes a clear, obvious and easy rule to use in your daily life.


Nutiva – Real Food Manifesto

Gary Nabhan – A Terrorists Manifesto for Eating in Place

Andrew Castronovo – Superfood Manifesto

Four Pillars Gin


Four Pillars Gin is an award-winning distiller of gin based in Healesville, in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, about 65 kilometres from Melbourne.


“We established Four Pillars with a focus on gin. But great gin doesn’t just make itself. We recognised that our real focus would need to be on the craft of distilling.

If we could elevate this area of expertise in Australia, and bring a modern Australian sensibility to the process, then maybe we could make a gin worth shouting about.”

Four Pillars Gin


Pillar 1: The Stills
Meet Wilma, our original magnificent copper-pot still

Pillar 2: The Water
The best in the world, from our home in the Yarra Valley

Pillar 3: The Botanicals
Asian spice, Mediterranean citrus and native Australian botanicals

Pillar 4: A Little of Love
A commitment to craft and attention to detail every step of the way




This is a deceptively simple and clever manifesto.

With only four components, it’s easy to digest. Great start!

The first (the stills) states the quality of equipment they use. The second and third pillars (water and botanicals) point to the quality of the ingredients they use. And the fourth pillar addresses the quality that the makers will bring to their craft.

Given these are all qualities it’s a highly aspirational set of company values. What I like about it is that they are practical values rather than the usual personal values (eg integrity), which can be vague when applied across an entire organisation.

The purpose statement (above) is simply included in a story about their business. For me, it’s shows that this manifesto likely started out from the maker’s perspective – these are the things we need to do to make world-class gin.

That’s a great place to start with your manifesto – what do you need to do to be successful in your chosen field? Aspire to these qualities.

However, like all great brands, these internal qualities also become the external ones that your customers measure your success against.

For me, I don’t know anything about gin. I rarely even drink it. But, I do know from reading this manifesto that there is a pursuit of quality here that is validated by the international awards they have received. As a potential customer, it gives me a reference point for trusting them and trusting their product, which makes it more likely that I would buy it compared to others that lack this.  

Also, if you read their website, there are some gentle stories which add flavour to the message.

In particular, I loved the story: “…We took delivery of our own custom-built still from Carl of Germany, and we called her Wilma (after Cameron’s beautiful but explosively tempered late mother). And Wilma turned out to be amazing, drawing extraordinary botanical flavour from a combination of rare, native and traditional botanicals.”

Now, that’s bringing your values to life for your customers!

Finally, pillars. A pillar is literally a column or upright structure used to support a building. Pillars are strong. The language you use to define your manifesto is important. Do you have values, pillars, a pledge, commandments or even a manifesto?

In this case, they have literally taken these pillars to heart and named their business: Four Pillars Gin. Now, that’s putting your manifesto in the centre of everything you do. While not essential, it is a strong statement.

Choose your words wisely because they provide an edge to your meaning and your branding.


Wikipedia Five Pillars

Nutiva Real Food Manifesto

Apple – We Are the Crazy Ones

Nutiva Real Food Manifesto


Nutiva is a US based good supplier founded by John Roulac in 1999.


Food is no longer just a personal issue about what you put in your mouth. It is now a choice that can have a profound impact on the planet.

Nutiva Real Food Manifesto


The Visual

Real food manifesto for all eaters, growers, producers and marketers

  1. Eat real food not unhealthy processed food
  2. Power to the people through collective will, purchasing power and social media
  3. GMOs begone – label our food because we have a right to know
  4. Hail to the locavore – say yes to local and organic
  5. Less corn and soy – Half of US diets come from corn and soy. There are 10,000 other crops – try a few.
  6. End industrial food subsidies to give organic farms a chance
  7. Carbon farmers unite to heal our climate
  8. Less toxins and cheap industrial foods. More organics!
  9. Stop corruption by Wall Street and Big Ag in regulations and courts
  10. Together, let’s revolutionize the way the world eats

The Mini-festo

In a world where the industrialized food system has led us down a tangled path, where food choices have been reduced to the lesser-of-evils, and where distrust reigns, we are the champions of the greater good.

Tireless seekers of pure and delicious foods that will nourish our bodies and our planet, we have devoted ourselves to a dream, a vision, a mission. We will revolutionize the way the world eats! And in so doing we will bring nourishment and balance, health and well being, sustainability and community to people and planet.

We know change is hard but we want to make it easy. We went out looking for the kind of foods that packed a powerful amount of nutrition into every bite, so that you could make small changes to big effect.

We found superfoods – nutrient-dense powerhouses that can also be grown and processed in a sustainable way. These are foods that are truly good for you and for the planet. They’re foods like hemp and coconut, chia and red palm. They’re organic, full of vital nutrition, easy to use and delicious additions to your diet.

We say food doesn’t have to be a choice between the lesser of evils. We say let food lead us to a better world. We say super people deserve superfoods. We say, come join us in our mission.

Together, we can change the world.



This is a great example of sharing your message and your manifesto in multiple ways.

First, a brief, easy-to-read visual based on ten bullet points – a rule based manifesto.

Second, a short 230 statement that promotes a similar message with a different set of words – a worldview manifesto.

Which one do you prefer?

The great benefit of a brief visual is that it can be readily shared and easily consumed. The downside is that it can over simply your issue.

The great benefit of a short statement is that you can be more precise in what you’re standing for and provide more depth. The downside is that fewer people will engage with a mass of words.

Ideally, you would want to have both to present different angles and viewpoints for your issue.


Academic Slow Food Manifesto

Andrew Castronovo – Superfood Manifesto

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Jamie Oliver: Feed Me Even Better

Jamie Oliver: Feed Me Even Better

Creator: Jamie Oliver is an internationally known celebrity chef with a passion for good grub and healthy eating.

Purpose: The document is a series of recommendations to the Government School Food Policy Review. It’s aim is persuade the government to increase funding for school meals and food education.

Manifesto – Foreword

“More must be done to invest in an all-round food education for our kids; one that includes learning about where food comes from and how it’s grown as well as the hands-on experience of cooking in the classroom.

I strongly believe that teaching our kids these life skills gives them the best start in life, for their own health, the health of their kids and their kids’ kids.

And if our kids are also getting a tasty, nutritious meal at lunchtime, their prospects are even better.

It’s been proven time and time again during the last five years that a healthy school meal improves a child’s ability to learn and do well at school.

We can’t ignore that; we must continue to feed our children better, even better.

We must invest in our kids; they are the future and they deserve it.”


Key Points

  1. More money for school food
  2. Nutritional standards for all schools
  3. Teach kids about food
  4. Provide training for teachers
  5. Every school a food-growing school
  6. Creative capital funding guidance
  7. Ofsted (food inspections)
  8. Pupil premium to give poorer pupils access to good food



Found here: Edexec.co.uk – includes link to download complete manifesto

More here at JamieOliver.com and the Jamie Oliver Foundation




Gary Nabhan: A Terroir-ist’s Manifesto for Eating in Place

Good Food World

Creator: Gary Paul Nabhan, Distinguished Professor, Southwest Center and Department of Geography, University of Arizona

Purpose: “A Terroir comes from the word terre “land”. It was originally a French term in wine, coffee and tea used to denote the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestowed upon particular varieties.” (Source Wikipedia)

Manifesto (edited)

Know where your food has come from through knowing those who produced it for you, from farmer to forager, rancher or fisher to earthworms…

Know where your food has come from by the very way it tastes: its freshness telling you how far it may have traveled…

Know where your food has come from by ascertaining the health & wealth of those who picked & processed it, by the fertility of the soil that is left in the patch where it once grew, by the traces of pesticides found in the birds & the bees there…

Know where your food comes from by the richness of stories told around the table recalling all that was harvested nearby?during the years that came before you…

Know where your foods come from by the patience displayed while putting them up, while peeling, skinning, coring or gutting them, while pit-roasting, poaching or fermenting them, while canning, salting or smoking them, while arranging them on a plate for our eyes to behold.

When you know where your food comes from you can give something back to those lands & waters, that rural culture, that migrant harvester, curer, smoker, poacher, roaster or vinyer.


For the complete manifesto on Good Food World – 16 November 2010

Terroir on Wikipedia


Lauren Viera: The Veggie Burger Manifesto

Lauren Viera: Veggie Burger Manifesto

Creator: By Lauren Viera, Features reporter for the Chicago Tribune

Purpose: To transform the humble, often maligned Veggie Burger and turn into “an entree worth salivating over… no matter the dietary preferences of its customer.”

A veggie burger manifesto for our modern times, tastes

It’s almost easier to define the modern veggie burger by what it isn’t, rather than what it is.

A veggie burger is not, for instance, a proteinless vessel comprising typical burger fare (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions) built between two buns and melded together with a consolatory slice of American cheese. That’s a sandwich, not a burger. And respectable burger joints that know better rightfully refer to it as such.

Nor is a veggie burger born by substituting a meat patty with a pseudo-exotic vegetable sliced into a half-inch disc. Many otherwise savvy places get away with this tactic, including Patty Burger (eggplant), M Burger (beefsteak tomato), et al. (portobello mushrooms galore). Yes, those are literal veggie burgers: vegetables accompanied by burger accouterments assembled on a bun. But flavor-wise, they’re redundant. Does anyone honestly desire to sink his or her teeth into a “burger” whose dominant flavor is a giant rubber tire of a fungus?

The list of veggie burger faux pas is long. Among the worst offenders: turkey burgers (a turkey is not a vegetable), salmon burgers (ditto), tofu burgers (just plain wrong). The most controversial? Black bean burgers. Black beans long to be liberated, free to swim in chili, soup and dips — not mushed together into a claustrophobic pancake smothered with ketchup and mustard, only to fall apart at the first opportunity. Whoever thought the black bean burger was a good idea was probably a meat eater. (One exception made our list.)

Eliminate the impersonators and you’re left with only the true entries deserving of the veggie burger title: traditional burger architecture (buns, ingredients, condiments) showing off a non-meat patty comprising a balanced combination of vegetables, grains and/or texturized vegetable protein.

That’s it.

Thanks to those chefs who strive toward deliciousness within the aforementioned parameters, the veggie burger is no longer limited to consumption by vegetarians. Conversely, it is no longer acceptable to offer a veggie burger on a menu boasting a chef by name, only to plate a defrosted Gardenburger (or worse, Boca burger).

The best veggie burger, like the best hamburger, should inspire in its maker a desire to create an entree worth salivating over, one that requires two hands and several napkins to conquer, no matter the dietary preferences of its consumer. Until all burger-makers are on board with this manifesto, our work isn’t done.



Article from the Chicago Tribune Food and Dining Section, June 30, 2011


Andrew Castronovo: The Superfood Manifesto

Andrew Castronovo: The Superfood Manifesto

Creator: Andrew Castronovo, editor of Blast Recipes for BlastMagazine.com

Purpose: Some rules to live by that make things simpler than counting the amount of each vitamin you consume on a daily basis.

The Superfood Manifesto

• If something is green and from nature, eat a lot of it.

• If something is brightly colored and from nature, eat a lot of that as well.

• If an animal is not active and looks fat when it is alive, don’t eat that much of it (to make it clearer; if an animal is involved in games where liquored up hicks push it over, don’t eat a lot of it).

• If an animal runs around and gets exercise while it is alive, you should probably eat a lot of it.

• If a nut is raw, it is very good for you. If a nut is salted, it is kind of good for you. If a nut is honey roasted, it is candy.

• Don’t eat a lot of candy.

• If after eating something you defecate liquid or don’t defecate at all, you probably shouldn’t eat it a lot and should definitely diversify your diet.

• Regarding bread or rice, the darker it is the better it is for you. The lighter the color, the worse it is for you. Eat a lot of the dark kind.

• While writing a piece about food, if you start to sound like Jeff Foxworthy, you are probably a hack.


The original Blast Magazine article

Image from Wikimedia