I was seeing references to this book in other books that I found helpful: The Metabolic Typing Diet and Life Without Bread. But I delayed more than a year before buying Nourishing Traditions. I figured if I knew what to eat, I didn't need a cookbook too.
I was wrong. This is a textbook as much as a cookbook. I liken it to Joy of Cooking. You can learn a lot from it about food and nutrition even if you never use its recipes. I have used recipes from both, though, and can attest to their deliciousness. But I must admit, for me the best thing about reading Nourishing Traditions is learning about nutrition, not learning new recipes.
The authors criticize the "Diet Dictocrats" who propound the "politically correct" low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. I find the epithet of "politically correct" rather grating and would hope they drop it in later editions.
The book's thesis is a Rousseauian one: industrial food production yields a product unsuited to our body's nature. To find out what is suited to our nature, we ought to rely on research of what preindustrial societies consumed. Thus, as another reviewer pointed out, they view themselves as continuators of the program initiated by the dentist Weston Price (author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration).
I had spent years eating in accordance with the low-fat dietary dogma and my health suffered because of it. I give the authors credit for recognizing a wide spectrum of ideal diets depending on one's genetic makeup. What is more problematic is how one draws the line between natural and unnatural. Is the line to be drawn between industrial and nonindustrial societies, or is it more basic than that? The book NeanderThin, for example sees humanity making a wrong turn with the advent of civilization.Read more ›
The 'most helpful' review for this book here at Amazon questions the reliance by this book on Dr. Weston Price's work, simply because he was a dentist. Fair enough, but the smart thing would be to see what he said for yourself. Instead of relying on Sally Fallon's word for why Dr. Price's work was so important, I went and read his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, myself. I actually checked out one printed in the 1940's from a university library, to avoid any reprint changes he may or may not have approved.
His work is fascinating. He first sought to understand why isolated people on traditional, unprocessed diets had such remarkable teeth, dental arches, and resistance to disease, particulary tuberculosis. Instead of focusing on the traditional methods used in medicine that seek to cure medical problems after the fact, he was out to find out a way to prevent the problems in the first place. What a novel idea. What he discovered was that traditional diets of isolated peoples maintained the teeth and health of these people in a dramatic fashion. He also found that within a generation of being exposed to processed food diets, these people began to experience the same health problems we have now. Why rely on his work, which dates some 70 years old? Because this same research can't be done today, there just aren't enough people that are still untouched by civilizaton and processed diets.
Back to this book. I believe much of what Sally Fallon has to say is right on the money. She was wise to heavily rely on what Dr. Price found and then has provided much additional information and some good recipies to go along with it.Read more ›
While the front matter in the book is pretty earth-shaking in terms of toppling most dietary shibboleths erected in recent years, the sidebar information as you go through the book is just as eye-opening. But let me deal with some objections I noted when reading Amazon reviews of this book. There are over 200 reviews, which says something about this book: it may not be on airport book racks, but people are reading it.
The NT way of eating is downright dangerous.
This is in the eye of the beholder. Most studies showing a decrease in heart disease deaths due to cholesterol-lowering drugs or diets show an increase in death rates from all causes. Which one are you going to take your chances with? Several well-done studies audited by independent researchers show no correlation between deaths related to heart disease or artheriosclerosis and the consumption of butter, eggs, and red meat. A few studies show that butter and saturated fats appear to have a protective effect.
What happens is that the government, the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, and others (the Diet Dictocrats), cherry pick the studies they will publicize and which aspects of these studies the public will learn about--which the MSM then dutifully report to John Q. Public. Studies whose results seem to defy the diet-heart hypothesis are silenced, starved of funds, and ultimately shuttered. Hence you have people like my father-in-law who says he's not supposed to eat organ meats because they are high in cholesterol. There is absolutely no relationship between the amount of cholesterol in a food and the likelihood of it contributing to artheriosclerosis.Read more ›