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Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health Hardcover – January 1, 2014
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About the Author
Denise Minger is a Portland, OR-based health writer and lecturer with a reputation for aggressively challenging today's leading voices of conventional wisdom. Her meticulously researched critiques decimating USDA guidelines and The China Study--published on her blog, RawFoodSOS.com--have made her a major player in the progressive health community, and a major thorn in the side of both mainstream nutritionists other health figures promoting flawed dietary dogma.
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I think this book holds its own place in nutrition and the history of how we got to where we are today. It is written in a style that is easily accessible to those people who are both up on nutrition as well as those who are simply looking for someone to tell them what to eat. While the book doesn’t tell anyone what to eat, it makes a point of telling people that everyone is different and even explains the differences.
The book is divided into 3 sections. The first section basically tells the story of how the politics and moneyed interests trumped actual science. It's easily readable and is a good start. The second section, defines science terms and takes us through a scientific study. The book then explains the history of nutrition and disease through some of these studies, including Ancel Keys and Yudkin. The book describes both of these pioneers in reasonable terms. Certainly more reasonably then they described each other.
Finally the third section looks into 3 different diets; Mediterranean, Paleo/Primal and Veganism/Vegetarianism. The book looks at them both for what they correlate on (not a lot in terms of foods to eat) and what they both restrict (very similar restrictions in many cases). The book goes on to point out that since we are all individuals, it’s up to us to find the diet that works for us, but at the very least, we can start by subtracting what those three diets all leave out (processed, refined foods, sugars, trans-fats, PUFAs)
I think everyone should read this book. Vegans, Paleo/Primal, and mostly people who hear all the sound bites and are totally confused as to what to eat. Her main message is look at the science, look at what works for you and don't just take anyone's word for anything. Correlation does not equal causation.
Denise's central argument is that the standard American diet is broken, but no one alternative diet is a cure-all for everyone. Many of us know this intuitively from experience, but diet proponents from a number of camps have often insisted that their way is *the* way.
The author offers an unbiased and sensitive overview of what we do know with some certainty and draws out specific examples of how individual genetics affect one's metabolism of particular nutrients. She also identifies the commonalities to all "healthy" diets and encourages readers to investigate what will work for them personally. She's no apologist for the meat industry, either, pointing out the short-comings of muscle meat and barbecue.
The book is engaging to read and the author is an able science communicator, balancing an accessible yet not dumbed-down explanation of nutrition science with light-hearted humor.
Don't expect to come away from it with yet another diet -- do expect to be able to evaluate what you are eating and make better choices, without the help of Monsanto, General Mills, or The Holy Government. And good luck finding a lot of the things you should be eating in the supermarket -- Big Ag has taken them away, for the most part.
In the news and popular media, you will get the idea that the "obesity epidemic" (and associated syndromes) is some mysterious plague for which we don't have an answer. Nonsense. This book will give you the answer - just don't expect it to be a simple answer for a very complex problem that started over a hundred years ago.
If you care about your body, and your kid's bodies, read this book.