Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nourishing Traditions



Santa gave me several great gifts this year, but my favorite so far has been this book. It looks like it could be a guide to Holistic Healing or Andrew Weil's newest manifesto. It speaks along those lines- an alternative approach to considering nutrition. Okay, all of my posts have been about food. I can't help it. But this book is really cool.

When we think of contemporary nutritional guidelines, we think of the USDA Food Pyramid, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, etc. These large organizations/societies have been the decreers of how we should eat and have trained missionaries, nutritionists, who then coach us on how to eat and influence what's available to us at cafeterias and hospitals around the country. The author, Sally Fallon, argues that these organizations are in fact representing other interests- mainly corporate interests- and thus what they're telling us is not what is actually good for our bodies, but what is good for the pockets of the grain processing industry and its allies. She argues that the current recommendations, of a diet low in saturated fat and high in grains, is not actually what our bodies evolved to eat. The current craze over margarine and adding omega-3 fatty acids to everything we eat, while throwing out our egg yolks and consuming vast amounts of processed grains is not only wrong, but harmful to our bodies.

She advocates eating unprocessed grains and eliminating our consumption of processed sugars, which makes sense and vibes with current recommendations. She suggests a huge shift in the way in which we view fat and cholesterol. No longer, she says, should we stress only polyunsaturated fats, currently what margarine and olive oil offer us. Margarine and similar shortenings, and most vegetable oils, are harmful to our bodies through their free radicals, the products of high-temperature processing. She believes that our bodies are made to eat large amounts of animal fat, including butter, as long as the animals were raised on their natural diets (think grass) to assure the optimal Omega-3:Omega-6 fatty acid ratio. This argument is supported in part by studies of the primitive populations of the world known for their longevity. These populations eat chiefly animal fats and animal meat, but have little or no tooth decay, excellent bone mass, little aging, and no weight problems (as well as long life spans). Even contemporary diet villains, like butter and coconut and palm oils, are acquitted by her arguments.

More to come on Nourishing Traditions, but I'm optimistic. Be prepared for some startling conclusions. Did I mention that this is a cookbook?

Will

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