Book Review: Real Food, What to Eat and Why

image via Nina Planck
I recently finished the book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, a book where the author, Nina Planck espouses the virtues of real food, but before I get to that, a little background. As you know, my household has experimented with vegetarianism and veganism and although there truly were no problems with this diet, we found ourselves reaching for more processed foods to satisfy our cravings; margarine instead of butter, processed soy protein instead of meat, processed rice/almond/soy milk for drinking, coffee, and ice cream. I know that not all vegetarians/vegans eat the processed replacements and I commend them, but we always found ourselves reaching for those items.

Now, I truly know the horrors of meat processing and the arguments about milk, I do, I've made those arguments. And, I also know the USDA biased food recommendations through my nursing education. Real Food, examines the truths behind factory farming, conventional produce and dairy, and the myths and truths about fats. The book cites multiple scholarly sources for reliable information, which often defies the norms we've been told to follow. The type of foods that Planck recommends can best be described as Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Wholesome or SLOW. Grass fed beef, pastured pork and poultry, raw milk dairy, whole grains, eggs from pastured chickens, and organic, local, in-season produce are all examples of SLOW foods. She also recommends saturated fats (although animal fats also contain a large amount of unsaturated fats) including butter, chicken fat or schmaltz, and even lard, as well as good quality cold pressed olive oil in place of processed polyunsaturated corn, soybean, palm and safflower oils. Planck's biggest discovery in the book as that most of the diet related illnesses including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes (also termed metabolic syndrome) is not caused by dietary cholesterol, carbohydrates, and animal sources, but is instead caused by over processed, chemically altered trans fats, white sugar and bread, and industrially produced, lower nutrient, meat, dairy and produce.

Although I've recently proclaimed our plan for a veganish lifestyle. We quickly found ourselves returning to organic dairy (although I never seem to be able to find organic cheese) and then decided that if we were going to eat any meat, that it would be good quality meat. So we found a local farm that raises and sells grass fed beef, and pastured pork and chicken and joined their meat CSA (community supported agriculture). We purchased a three month share that is spread out over six months. Every other month, we get a mixed share of beef, pork, chicken and eggs. We're splitting this share with my aunt as none of us eats meat for every meal, and we know we could freeze it and spread out over past 6 months. Next up, a vegetable CSA. There's no way I can make it to the farmers market with weekend clinicals...

Next I'm gonna pick up some Michael Pollan books at the library including The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.

Read any good books lately?

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