- Paperback: 95 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 10, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345374657
- ISBN-13: 978-0345374653
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Diet for a Poisoned Planet Paperback – March 10, 1992
"How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals" by Sy Montgomery
“This is a beautiful book — essential reading for anyone who loves animals and knows how much they can teach us about being human.” ― Gwen Cooper, author of "Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat" Pre-order today
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From the Inside Flap
oroughly researched guide to the foods that are safest and the ones that are most dangerous in each of the major food groups.
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Steinman should be thanked, not pilloried, for fighting to keep food safety, health and the environment in the marketplace of ideas.
Some of the green light foods are scavangers. They are designed to clean up toxins. (Snales, Pigs) I can't believe that canned spaghetti is a green light food.
I have been raising and butchering our own poultry for 5 years. I grind my own flour and grow and can much of our food. I purchased this book because I thought I might be able to purchase more food off the shelf. I have had this book for about an hour and I don't even want it in the house.
Steinman has organized his chapters by types of foods, with separate chapters for vegetables and fruits, grains, meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, beverages, etc. Each of these chapters starts with a short article about potential hazards of this group. Then he divides the commonly eaten foods into 3 groups: green lights, which are generally safe, yellow lights, which should be consumed with caution, and red lights, which should be avoided because the chances are high that they contain numerous toxins. In the second part of the book Steinman provides additional information about irradiation, drinking water, toxic substances in the home, pregnancy, baby foods, and detoxification programs. At the end of the book are appendices including a safe foods shopping list, a personal action guide, a glossary of pesticides and toxic chemicals, and a list of sources. There is also an index.
The text is quite eye-opening. If you don't already eat organic foods, you will after reading this book. Steinman notes there are few government regulations concerning toxic pesticide residues on foods. He also points out that US laws which forbid the use of certain dangerous chemicals on food plants don't apply overseas, so foreign-grown foods often carry traces of these extremely toxic chemicals that would not be permitted here. But there is no inspection or other regulation that would keep such foods out of our grocery stores. Some people would rather get the cheapest food on the shelf than pay more for organic, but Steinman argues that the cheapest doesn't necessarily give you the best deal, when you consider the extra health care costs and shortened life expectancy that come with continuous exposure to toxic chemicals found in cheap industrially produced food stuffs. The scariest point that Steinman makes is that although rising adult cancer rates can be explained by longer life expectancies (people are now living long enough to get cancer), cancer rates among children have increased 32% over 35 years. So what is causing the cancer epidemic in children? Steinman argues that the likely cause is toxins in the food and water we serve them.
When it comes to reporting science, however, Steinman is a bit over his head. For example, he notes that vegans can have a difficult time getting enough Vitamin B12 since "the richest sources" are animal foods. He suggests vegans can get B12 from nonflesh sources like soybeans, wheat germ, and skim (cow) milk. Whoops! There's no B12 in legumes or grains, and I've never known a vegan to drink animal milk. He's not always sure what all the foods are in his lists, either. Thus, he notes that watermelon seeds have "no detectable pesticide residues, which is good news since children often devour them." Hello! Steinman doesn't seem to be aware that we're not talking about the incidental seeds one might ingest while eating fresh watermelon, but the salted, roasted seeds consumed like nuts, or sunflower seeds, popular snacks in certain parts of the world. Later, he notes that precut vegetables and fruits suffer oxidation losses in their vegetables content. He then suggests "Buy your watermelons whole...if you value optimum nutrient content." Oxidation losses are quite significant when food is diced, as with precut salad ingredients. But the large chunks that watermelons are cut in for resale are not going to result in much nutrient loss, provided the watermelon is in halves or quarters, not fruit salad chunks, that is. Once again, Steinman seems to miss the point. Steinman notes that some toxins, such as lead, are so toxic that any exposure at all is found to cause cancer. What he doesn't seem to understand, or explain, is that the reason why "safe" levels are set at certain levels which are high enough to carry a know cancer risk is that the "safe" levels also reflect what is possible to measure in the analytical chemistry lab. For the most dangerous chemicals, the "safe" level is the defined as the lowest possible amount that a routine lab could reliably measure. Of course, it would be healthier to specify that the "safe" level be lower, but if the substance can't be measured to the lower, safer level, then we have to accept current standards, realizing that there is a risk involved, but the risk is unavoidable given our current analytical methods.
One of the most basic problems with the book is that when determining how to categorize a food (as green light, yellow light, or red light), Steinman focuses on the number of residues detected, rather than on the amounts of residues, and he doesn't consider the relative toxicity of the residues; it would be more important to avoid a food that commonly has a large amount of a single very toxic residue than one with a laundry list of minor residues in small amounts. Thus, I'm not sure how useful his printed guides would be as written. As a result, the main value of the book is not Steinman's specific recommendations, but the big picture: if you want a safe diet, stick to organic foods, and avoid industrially produced foods, whatever the costs.