Monday, January 12, 2009

What have I read lately?

I've read a couple of books recently which have significantly influenced the way I think about food.

The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin starts off by telling his moving story of his battle with severe Crohn's Disease. It's a compelling story which gets you sucked into the book right away.

It's an easy read, but you'll uncover some rather shocking facts and theories about food. If you thought you were eating well, or you at least knew a decent amount about nutrition, this book will make you think again!

If you thought you were doing good by avoiding eating eggs and saturated fats to reduce your risk of cholesterol and therefore heart disease...this book may change your mind. Rubin claims many saturated fats are GOOD for you, and that at least 50% of dietary fat we consume should be saturated. In this book, Rubin states that, "the theory that saturated fats and cholesterol clog arteries has been effectively disproved".

Ok. But eating iron fortified, whole wheat breakfast cereal and whole grain breads must be healthy, right? According to the Maker's diet, if whole grains are not sprouted or fermented, they contain dangerous phytates, which block the absorption of essential nutrients (including iron in that iron fortified cereal).

Rubin encourages a primitive, biblical based diet. After reading this book, I felt a little like I couldn't eat anything, because nothing at all was healthy. Unfortunately I don't think we could afford to eat all whole foods, though I'd love to. But we are striving to make things from scratch whereever financially viable. Limiting processed foods can only be a good thing.

The other book was The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
The dilemma referred to in the title is that of "what's for dinner tonight?". This book takes a good, hard look at where our food comes from and forces us to think about what the true cost of our supper is, economically, ethically, financially and environmentally.

If after reading the Maker's Diet and feeling guilty about eating whole grains and polyunsaturated fats, you at least think SURELY there's nothing bad can be said of organic food, then read this book to change your mind again. Pollan has much to say about industrial agriculture, including the industrial organic industry.

I found the section on sustainable farming fascinating, and the benefits of supporting local, sustainable farms have never made more sense to me.

Pollan is believer in evolution, which features heavily throughout this book, but if you subsitute "evolved to" with "was designed to" whenever you see a reference, you'll find it makes a whole lot more sense!

These books are both from a meat eater's standpoint and in fact both have a few anti-vegetarian things to say. However, I did find these books both highly enjoyable and they've given me a new perspective on menu planning. The Maker's Diet explains so much about nutrition and the importance of gastrointestincal health, whilst the Omivore's Dilemma stresses the importance of appreciating the value of food, and the story behind our food; it is a challenging and thought provoking book. You might as well look them up in your library for a wee read.


Snobound said...

Because I haven't read either of these books (and I'm not likely to) I can not speak to the validity of either of these, however, as you know I believe "organic" is a current marketing trend the mainstream can not financially sustain. There's always been a certain segment of our population who maintain an organic lifestyle - however the high cost of most organic foods just makes eating this way too expensive for the average family. And unfortunately, the FDA does not strictly regulate what does and does not qualify as "organic". There are still many, many harmful pesticides that are used on so called certified organic foods making the overpriced "organic" choices just as harmful as the non-organic choices.

That being said, I do believe there is something to be said for living a "sustainable" lifestyle, as it pertains to our food. Getting involved in a local food co-op as well as gardening/growing as much of your own veggies and herbs as you possibly can is one of the best ways to ensure we're eating healthier and making smarter choices in our daily diets. Gardening is not only good exercise and reasonably inexpensive to do, but you can also be 100% sure what chemicals your fruits and veggies have been subjected to - ensuring your truly eating an "organic" food!

Sam said...

I'm a big proponent of 'sustainable farming' and the whole 'slow food' movement.

It's one big problem is that it's not economically viable for the average American household. Especially in a 'down economy'. That's why I recommend 'urban farming', where we grow,raise and, yes, hunt, as much of our own food as possible. We are doing it, and others can, too. Sure we can't do everything, because of Home Owner's Associations and the like, but we can all do a bit.

Niecey said...

I'm totally with you on that one Dad.

Even the hunting. Of course I'd never do it myself, but if you're a meat eater, hunting your own is the way to go. The animal gets to live in its own natural environment and eat the diet it was designed to eat, which makes a healthier meat for humans, and they get a quick, easy death, rather than being squashed on an assembly line, stunned, bled and skinned. Plus I think humans who hunt the meat they eat are more likely to respect the fact that this animal gave its life to be food, instead of the euphemistic package of beef from walmart, which of course never had eyes and never breathed.

But of course I'll still tease that you're a meanie for hunting :) Cause I have to.