Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

Synopsis: Hailed as the "patron saint of farmers' markets" by the Guardian and called one of the "great food activists" by Vanity Fair's David Kamp, Nina Planck is single-handedly changing the way we view "real food." A vital and original contribution to the hot debate about what to eat and why, Real Food is a thoroughly researched rebuttal to dietary fads and a clarion call for the return to old-fashioned foods. In lively, personal chapters on produce, dairy, meat, fish, chocolate, and other real foods, Nina explains how ancient foods like beef and butter have been falsely accused, while industrial foods like corn syrup and soybean oil have created a triple epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The New York Times said that Real Food "poses a convincing alternative to the prevailing dietary guidelines, even those treated as gospel," and that "radical" as Nina's ideas may be, the case she makes for them is "eminently sensible." (from the back of the book)

Review: If you've read anything like this book, then there is no need to read this one also. It will simply be a tiresome repeat of what you've already researched. However, if you are new to the Real Food ideology, then this is a fine starting place. Planck goes through each food group - dairy, plants, proteins - and explains their importance to the body, the nutrients they provide, and what source provides the most. Planck's writing style if cheerful and clear, and she's obviously done her research. Information about nutrition is sprinkled with personal anecdotes and stories. The list of resources in the back is helpful and extensive. But despite all this, I have some issues with this book.
First, she commits my greatest pet-peeve when it comes to diet books - extolling foods that are expensive and hard to find. Not everyone has access to the places and shops and vendors that supply these foods. Nor can we afford pasture-raised organic meats or grass-fed fresh raw milk or just picked heirloom tomatoes. This sort of grocery list is only for someone who makes significantly more than your average person. And yes, one might argue that spending on good food prevents spending on medicine and medical bills later. But a weekly budget of this sort of food for a family of four might run you $250 easy - which is ridiculous! This is even assuming one lives near real-round farmer's markets or vendor's selling raw milk - which I don't. In the end, for someone on a budget, her ideology, while sound and wise, isn't feasible for most people.
Second, there are no recipes or meal plans or anything practical to assist the reader. It merely tells you what to eat, but doesn't help you take practical steps. Any no, I don't count telling you to "drink raw milk" as a how-do.
In the end, this is a good book for a concise, clear explanation for how to make better choices for food. But it's not anything different that what you might find in many other books on the same thing.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-59691-342-4
Date Finished: 8-5-2015
Pages: 343

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