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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.
The first part is titled Shady Politics. The second part is Slippery Science. The third part is New Geometry.
Shady Politics is about the food pyramid and how it came into being. It's a history lesson about personal ambition and corporate interests leading to really bad policy. Not as detailed as Gary Taubes' book "Good Calories, Bad Calories," it makes the case against the low fat, high carb recommendations of the food pyramid.
Slippery Science is a solid gem, I thought. Chapter 5, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Nutritional Research" could be broken out as a special mini-book on its own. It's the best explanation I've ever seen of all the facets of nutritional research, put in a way that anyone can understand. Getting this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Read it and learn how to understand all the other health and diet books and how to pick out the facts from the fiction.
The last section, New Geometry, is the author's recommendations for your own health and diet. There's some particularly good information for vegetarians. The book is for eating meat of all kinds. But the author is a former vegan and one of her specialties is helping vegans out of the nutritional dangers they face. Being a vegan, she says, taught her that diet-dogma is a killer. There is no dogma in this book. Only good science. That's what makes it so great.