The food industry pissed off the wrong Mommy of Four. Sarah Palin might call Robyn O'Brien (author of The Unhealthy Truth) a pitbull with lipstick. She might be blond and pretty, but when her youngest child, Tory, had an allergic reaction to eggs, she didn't take "Don't worry your pretty little head about it" for an answer. Why are allergies and asthma on such a rise in America?
The answers were largely: We don't know and we're not really studying it. Better yet, there were two competing camps that each thought the other one's strategy would harm the kids. One thought you should expose your kids to the foods they are allergic to in small doses to see if the allergy would go away, and the other thought you should totally avoid any contact to the allergic food at all to see if it would go away. Riiight. It's nice to have theories, it's nice to do research, but what happens if you have kids, they have allergies, and you have to feed them NOW?
Much of this book is a personal story of the O'Brien family and their four children, Lexy, Colin, John, and Tory. Once upon a time they were a happy family of four, complete with Kraft Mac n Cheese, blue yogurt, dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, and colorful goldfish crackers. And then, when Tory was nine months old and the oldest, Lexy, was five, things changed in an instant.
Tory ate some eggs and her face puffed up and turned red. A few doctors' appointments later, she was diagnosed with an allergy to eggs. Life in the O'Brien house changed. Now - it didn't change overnight. Robyn was raised in so-called Red America (Houston, actually), with a military father and a conservative, Republican background. Not that that shapes one's eating habits per se, but it can tend toward an attitude of not questioning authority.Read more ›
As someone with a corn allergy/intolerance I'm already disillusioned with the "system". FAAN isn't what they seem to be and the people who feed us are in it for the money.
But, somehow, I've always believed that it couldn't be "that" bad. I mean, the government DOES have regulations. Right?
This book, written as a description of the author's research discoveries and journey out of food ignorance bliss, is even more alarming from it's first person tone. It isn't written by an expert. It's written by a Mom who just started out looking for answers for her child and found herself in the middle of something bigger.
This is a wake up call for all of us. We know about GMO, and petrochemicals and hormones in our food supply. Many of us worry about them, but let them take a back burner to little league and homework and deadlines. Reading some of Robyn's discoveries makes one realize that we need to re-evaluate our priorities, and vote with our personal choices. She also offers good advice on starting the journey away from "norm" with simple steps on getting started on life without GMO or additives, and a low pressure reassurance that no one is perfect...all you can do is aim for improvement.
As a research scientist with a doctorate in the health care field, I will admit that I read this book with skepticism. Robyn O'Brien has no scientific training, and I didn't understand what made her qualified to write such a book as this one - a book that, in order to be plausible for its claims, essentially required an in-depth critical review of the current research on food allergies. After reading the book, I was glad to see that she recognized her limitations as a scientist and that she collaborated with some experts in the field - although not to the level that I would have liked to see. She writes in a very non-scientific way, which probably appeals to more audiences, but there is a lot of repetition of her thought processes, events, and even some facts. Having said that, I believe that her background in business was extremely beneficial to the plausibility of this book, particularly as she uncovered the links between big business and the food industry. While I am still skeptical that she was really able to critically examine the medical articles that she uses to back up her arguments, I do believe that she makes some very interesting - if not extremely obvious - linkages between the manufacturing and processing of food in the US and the current chronic medical epidemics (such as autism, food allergies, obesity, ADHD, asthma etc..) that can not be ignored.
At the very least, this book is a call for action from researchers to recognize that there is a tremendous need for more rigorous studies examining the effects of the chemicals used in the manufacturing, processing and, well, growing of the foods that we eat and the foods that we feed our children.Read more ›
I wanted to like this book and in many ways I did like it. The author has a very engaging writing style. But what is "shocking" to me is that the author sort of stops short. Preservatives are bad for you! So is artificial food coloring!! GM Corn and Soy too! Actually, soy is really bad for you!
Is this news to anyone? Perhaps you didn't know that agribusiness was peddling different food (sans offending ingredients) to our European frieds. Maybe you didn't know that doctors whose entire existence depend on people being sick may have conflicts of interest. Maybe you didn't get the message that soy is fairly close to poison. But then the author stops. She offers ridiculous "recipe" suggestions then pads the book out with references. End of story.
No discussion about the actual food supply. How does food get to your table? She doesn't really get the connection between feeding GM Corn and Soy to Cattle/Chickens/Pigs and how this is actually making our meat unhealthy by changing the fat profiles of the meat and eggs.
No discussion about the pitfalls of refined carbohydrates and their prevalence in our diets. If you read her recipes in the book, her family eats a pretty solid low fat/high carb diet. No discussion about whether this is, in fact, "healthy". No discussion about how the food pyramid and school lunches are based on zero scientific evidence.
I was looking for more. I don't seriously think advocating mac and cheese (but the white cheddar kind) is really protecting your family from unhealthy foods. This book is for someone who has never, ever researched food issues and wants to get started. Otherwise, it's a pedestrian effort. The title is quite misleading, if the author really wants to be shocked, she should read Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories".