For a lot of people, their phone is a part of their hand. I haven’t got a phone, but I have got books. When I was little, I used to get in trouble for reading too much when my classmates were being cajoled and wheedled into opening a book. I basically had a book glued to my hand and took one with me everywhere. I was bummed when I had to learn to drive because then I’d be driving and I couldn’t read on the way from here to there.
It’s not really a surprise then that it was a set of books that influenced my interest in nutrition. I first found French Women Don’t Get Fat back in my diet phase. Part memoir, part cookbook (that book has a solid, simple croissant recipe), part common sense eating advice, it spoke to me. It was about liking food; making eating an event with a tablecloth, family, and real plates; and eating fine, seasonal ingredients.
Next, I had to read Real Food by Nina Planck, which I have to blame for the turning point to a whole/real foods enthusiast working on making the whole switch. I chose that book based on the cover photo (a bunch of produce, dairy, meat, and oils, all arranged artfully–what can I say but that it caught my eye?) and I have been very pleased with the results–researched and compelling, the central message is that foods humanity has grown up with are not bad for you. That was music to my ears after having read every diet book on the shelves in the local library, each claiming something different and most telling me to quit my dairy habit.
Then I saw In Defense of Food in a bookstore on my way to the library and placed a hold on that little gem. In Defense of Food was and is so well researched, so well laid out, and so informational. Michael Pollan lays out all of these studies like the Minnesota starvation study and all these historical figures like Weston Price and tells us what is wrong with how and what we eat. And the subtitle “Eat food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” is so central to the book.
I read Marion Nestle’s What to Eat and The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, MD on a whim, and both confirmed the arguments of the other books I had read. On a recent reread, I was disappointed that Miller was on the whole “saturated fats are awful, silent killers!” bandwagon. Still, the first, final, all reads in between, the focus on traditional diets and the detective work on what makes them so healthful is super interesting.
Now that I am nearly grown up, I still have a book glued to my hand–currently the Song of Ice and Fire series (we don’t get HBO, so I have to say up on pop culture somehow). But, once I have completed that, I am planning to write reviews of all these books that have influenced me and my interest in nutrition. Really, I think that these books have some information, insight, and ideas that can change the world (or a least the parts of the world subscribing to the Standard American Diet). So, stay tuned for recaps on books that are too interesting to be left alone and for personal stories and insights from yours truly this summer. (UPDATE: I added some links to books I reviewed!)
This post is in response to today’s daily prompt, Mutants and Hybrids.