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Books that Made a Difference

March 6, 2011

One of my major interests throughout my life has been nutrition, and I’ve ridden on a few bandwagons in the past that I’d just as soon forget about (lowfat, counting calories, Weight Watchers, vegetarianism, and macrobiotics come to mind). I’ve learned of the mistakes, shortcomings and misinformation rampant among those and I’ve moved beyond. My general approach is to emphasize real, nutrient-dense foods long-eaten by humans, using traditional preparation methods, updated with modern technology where appropriate. Does that cover everything?

If you take a look at the Goodreads link, at the bottom of this blog, you can see some of my favorite books and others I’d like to read.

If you’re wondering why I specify “foods long-eaten by humans,” that’s because it stands to reason that the foods that the human species evolved eating is food we are well adapted to and can thrive on. Hence my leaning towards “paleo” and “primal” dietary principles, such as those espoused by Mark Sisson in The Primal Blueprint, and Nora Gedgaudas in Primal Body, Primal Mind.

The first turnaround in my thinking was thanks to Ann Marie Gittleman’s Beyond Pritikin, which questioned the low-fat dogma and revealed how natural fats came to be demonized and what shifted consumption away from butter, coconut oil and lard towards polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

A major influence on my thinking has been Weston A. Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. I’ve never actually read his book all the way through. I read a good, shorter summary of it: Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine, by Ron Schmid, and from there I went to Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, PhD., and many others including Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice (a friend), Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, and many others. Julia Ross’s The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure were influential, as was Real Food by Nina Planck. They all have a lot to recommend them.

So am I a diet fanatic? No, I don’t diet. I don’t avoid fat, but I try (not always successfully) to avoid sugar. I eat vegetables, with gusto, and also with lots of butter and sour cream. I eat meat, eggs and cheese with gratitude for the animals. I make and eat sauerkraut with gratitude for the microbes and the people who long ago figured out how to get some of them to work for us to make our food more delicious, nutritious and less perishable.

Among my favorite books about food, I have to give a shout out to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth. (This from someone who read Diet for a Small Planet in the 70s, Diet for a New America in the 80s, and lots of macrobiotic stuff in the 90s. I also read Susan Powter. Susan Powter! May she pay for her sins.)

Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land, by Kurt Timmermeister, is another wonderful read.

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