Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Review | Real Food

I recently read Real Food by Nina Planck. Here's the blurb:

Don't you find it odd that the experts blame butter and beef for heart disease, even though heart disease is new and traditional foods are old? Heart disease as we know it was first diagnosed by James Herrick in 1912; it is a 20th century disease. Meanwhile, we (or our ancestors) have been eating milk and butter for 10,000 to 30,000 years and beef for 2 or 3 million.

Don't you find it funny that the foods in many traditional diets - starting with breast milk and moving on to coconut oil, butter, eggs, and pork fat - are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, yet people who eat these traditional foods liberally don't get heart disease? Nor are they fat or diabetic.

I believe the conventional wisdom on traditional foods is mistaken. The so-called diseases of civilization - obesity, diabetes, heart disease - are not caused by real food. The diseases of industrialization - as I call them - are caused by the foods of industrialization.

What are industrial foods? In the triple epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, the three main villains are trans fats, corn oil, and sugar - not butter and eggs. White flour and other refined carbohydrates are also trouble.

In Real Food: What to Eat and Why, I explain why traditional foods such as butter are healthy and industrial foods are not. You'll learn how butter, lard, beef, cheese, eggs, and other foods we've been eating for thousands of years got a bad rap - and why it's a bad rap.

The book is full of good news about foods we love to eat. Perhaps you will feel liberated, and resume eating raw milk, cream, butter, egg yolks, and coconut oil with impunity, as I do. One other thing: the experts are right about fish, olive oil, and fresh fruit and vegetables - they're all good for you, too. I'll tell you why that is, too.

I have to say, this book was really helpful for me. I've been reading a lot about traditional vs industrial diets but this book explains it well. She gives nutritional backing for why you should eat traditional foods (butter instead of margarine etc) and doesn't get overly bogged down with the ethical and environmental reasoning. I care about that too, but I'm really interested in what foods are good for me and why. Real Food explains all that. While it's a lot of information to *ahem* digest, I found it very readable and finished it in about three days.

I highly recommend to anyone who cares about what you eat. And to those who wonder why they keep eating low fat food without becoming...lower in fat. Oh, and to people who are vegetarians. Because it might change your mind.