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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on November 10, 2012
As is clear from the title, Nina Planck's real food falls into the category of "eat what your grandmother would have recognized" school of dieting. A kindred spirit with Michael Pollan (she even has a chapter called 'The Omnivore's Dilemma", a phrase coined by Paul Rozin in 1976), Planck gives an interesting account of her upbringing on a farm, eating "real food", various forays in vegan and vegetarian diets, and a final return to "real food", beef and whole milk included. We are encouraged to enjoy food, and there is a wealth of practical advice on how to do this in a healthy manner.
The problem is that this wasn't news to me when I read the book in 2012, and even in 2006 this message wouldn't really have qualified as being ahead of the curve. When she is giving us her personal story, or advice on grocery shopping Ms. Planck is on solid ground, however she gets in over her head when trying to write popular science. She has no scientific training - and worse, doesn't seem to understand the nature of the primary, peer reviewed literature. We read phrases like "Cancer Research reported that ....", as though Cancer Research were a conventional magazine. She quotes the parts of work by researchers such as Loren Cordain (of paleo diet fame) that support her point of view, but ignores other aspects of his argument. The section on fat metabolism can be safely skipped - the material is presented more thoroughly and accessibly many other places.
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on August 13, 2015
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.
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on February 1, 2009
I read this book just after finishing In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. Nina Planck takes the same approach as Michael Pollan in regarding nutritional advice as needing a more anthropological approach rather than piecemeal medical experiments. Both authors rightly suggest that nutrition is a lifestyle component not easily solved by scientific experiments that try to isolate nutritional components to determine whether or not they are healthy.

Planck's bottom line is that whole, "real" foods like butter, eggs, organic and local fruits and vegetables, and pastured meat are all good for us. She supports her information with a lot of specific information about nutritional chemistry, though this is something of a downfall of the text because it relies on the same type of scientific methods that supported the low fat and low carb movements.

I think the book was far to preoccupied with animal products. Because Planck was a former vegetarian, I think the intent was to convince vegetarians that meat makes nutritional sense. But this ignores a greater movement to address concerns with portion sizes (especially of animal products) and the long-term environmental impacts of people consuming more meat. At times I think Ms. Planck contradicts herself. In several chapters, she mentions how various animal foods can raise HDL ("good" cholesterol) and lower or have no negative impact on LDL ("bad" cholesterol), only to write a whole chapter about why HDL and LDL don't matter anyway.

The last chapter - The Omnivore's Dilemma - seems to reference another book by Pollan The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which I have not read. Still, it made me wonder if this is not just a follow-up commentary to other works like Pollan's. It's important to remember the chronic disease and obesity are impacted by exercise and eating habits (as in eating slowly, not food choices), but Planck rarely dwells on these aspects of food and lifestyle. As such, I think Real Food is good for a reading list about evolving nutrition philosophy, but I would balance out Planck ideas with those of others, notably Pollan and Will Clower's The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss.
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on February 1, 2009
I read this book just after finishing In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. Nina Planck takes the same approach as Michael Pollan in regarding nutritional advice as needing a more anthropological approach rather than piecemeal medical experiments. Both authors rightly suggest that nutrition is a lifestyle component not easily solved by scientific experiments that try to isolate nutritional components to determine whether or not they are healthy.

Planck's bottom line is that whole, "real" foods like butter, eggs, organic and local fruits and vegetables, and pastured meat are all good for us. She supports her information with a lot of specific information about nutritional chemistry, though this is something of a downfall of the text because it relies on the same type of scientific methods that supported the low fat and low carb movements.

I think the book was far to preoccupied with animal products. Because Planck was a former vegetarian, I think the intent was to convince vegetarians that meat makes nutritional sense. But this ignores a greater movement to address concerns with portion sizes (especially of animal products) and the long-term environmental impacts of people consuming more meat.

The last chapter - The Omnivore's Dilemma - seems to reference another book by Pollan The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which I have not read. Still, it made me wonder if this is not just a follow-up commentary to other works like Pollan's. It's important to remember the chronic disease and obesity are impacted by exercise and eating habits (as in eating slowly, not food choices), but Planck rarely dwells on these aspects of food and lifestyle. As such, I think Real Food is good for a reading list about evolving nutrition philosophy, but I would balance out Planck ideas with those of others, notably Pollan and Will Clower's The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss.
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on April 14, 2014
I highly recommend this book. Nina Planck is amazing. She has changed the way I eat and look at food.
The seller was terrible. I understand, I ordered a lightly used book, but the back cover had food and a half ripped sticker on it. And the book is underlined. The seller could have minimum cleaned the cover and not listed it as "lightly used".
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on November 10, 2006
While it is nice to hear that someone believes that what Grandma was cooking is the right thing to eat, I need recipes. Having heard everything that the various food Nazi groups have put out over the years I treat with skepticism anything said on the subject of food. Basically it all starts to sound like religion after the first sentence.

This book was basically reportage on the various studies that support her contention that "old" food is "good" food. I have successfully learned to stop listening every time I hear that wonderful phrase "a new study has shown." That makes it hard to read this book.

I will be happy to eat like she recommends, but really, all I want to know is what to buy and how to prepare it. This book didn't have that info. I guess I will have to learn that stuff the hard way by haunting some farmers markets.
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on February 8, 2010
I really did like this book, even though it came from an evolution-perspective. Nina Planck gives good, solid answers to some tough questions regarding our diet and for the most part, can back it up. The all important key that is missing here is God. She talks about us "coming down from the trees" and "walking up out of the water"; I find these long, rambling snippets of her misinformed opinion unnecessary in this book. They would have been better left out completely. It is obvious to me (having read the book in its entirety) that she is truly capable of making her case without them.

All that said, three stars for a superbly thorough explanation of "What to Eat and Why".
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