Review: Real Food

Here it is–the review of that much-lauded (by me at least) book Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. This book, like French Women Don’t Get Fat, is part memoir. In the first section, Planck explains growing up on a family farm eating real, whole foods; her early adulthood on vegan, vegetarian, and low-fat diets; and eventually returning to the farmhouse diet of her childhood.

The rest of the book is a well-researched argument for eating wild game and fish; full-fat, grass-fed dairy; meats from pastured (or otherwise non-factory-raised) livestock; and real fats. Planck breaks down the nutritional components of these superior foods–wild-caught salmon is higher in omega-3 fatty acids; grass-fed beef contains more stearic acid, omega-3 fats, and vitamin E; and just eat your vegetables (even the conventionally grown ones), because they are essential for good health, full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

When I first read this book five years ago now, I absorbed only the central message: that we should be eating traditional foods as they were traditionally prepared and minimally processed. While that theme was important to me in developing my nutritional philosophy, there is so much more to be garnered from these pages. About the nutritional profiles of these traditional foods compared to new-fangled competitors. About nutrition beyond the commonly spun tales about saturated fats and cholesterol.

Of course, some of the cited evidence is more anecdotal than scientific, so some claims may be taken with a grain of salt. The body of research Planck does cite is impressive, though. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone interested in the whole/real/slow foods movement or anyone interested in the near-silent (at least until recently) “other side” of the saturated fats debate.

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