My Reading List

Monday, May 18, 2009

I finished Marion Nestle’s What to Eat: An Aisle-By-Aisle Guide to the Supermarket, which I really liked.

I also read Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock, which loosely chronicles his Super Size Me experience, and which had the perverse effect of making me want to go to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger.

Right now, I’m reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, which is making me think a cheesburger might not be a bad idea.

I also read The 100% Natural, Purely Organic, Cholesterol-Free, Megavitamin, Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition Hoax, by Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan and Dr. Frederick J. Stare, which was published in 1984 and which is interesting in combination with the Gary Taubes book, which talks about the history of the fat-is-bad hypothesis, which Taubes argues is more-or-less completely unscientific. [And yes I know I should try to re-write that sentence so it doesn’t have the word “which” in it four times but it’s late and I have other things to do so I’m just going to leave it.] The 100% Hoax book came out right around when the fat-is-bad “consensus” was achieved so it has some interesting counterpoints to today’s conventional wisdom about diet and health.

As an aside… I do think reading alternative viewpoints is good, but I have to say that Whelan and Stare lost me a bit with the discussion about pesticides and DDT. They offered a defense of DDT on the basis that it saved millions of lives that would otherwise have been lost to malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses, which is a perfectly valid argument, however they did not mention even in passing the terrible environmental consequences of DDT, including the fact that entire bird populations were nearly wiped out by it. I’m okay with defending some aspects of DDT, but I really think you have to at least acknowledge the downside.

I should be done with all the reading in three or four years and ready to start with my next project.

Just kidding

I’m a pretty fast reader. Shouldn’t be more than a year.

9 Responses to “My Reading List”

  1. Amy Says:

    I’ve discovered professional journals on nutrition lately – and a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. I’m making myself nuts reading about these scientfic studies and trying to apply it to my life.

  2. Marcia Says:

    I really like Marion Nestle’s book. Food Politics is also a good one.

    I got to see Marion Nestle AND Morgan Spurlock TOGETHER at a local S’cool Food initiative talk (for FREE even! And I got a free bag! And free food! Let me tell you it was heaven…except for the slight bit of inferiority complex realizing how amazingly successful Morgan Spurlock has become, and he’s my age.)

  3. Clean Simple Says:

    Glad to hear you’re reading Gary Taubes. I loved his book and it made me a lot more skeptical about the “latest study shows” hype that ends up in the papers and magazines.

  4. Babs Says:

    Really enjoying your commentary and book lists. I’m reading some of them, just got done with How To Cook A Wolf on your recommendation. Learning a lot.

  5. lessisenough Says:

    I have to say that the Taubes book has made me a bit paranoid — I feel like eating a cookie is going to give me cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and make me fat overnight. (It also was SO LONG, I was really working it and I still felt like I never was going to get through it.)

    I started to write up a couple of posts — I got a little bit obsessed while I was reading it, looking up things online and listening to interviews with him and thinking a lot about his argument — but I was sort of all over the place while I was writing so nothing ready to put up yet. Then got sidetracked with some things and haven’t gotten back to wrap them up. Hope to soon.

    A friend told me she got How to Cook a Wolf from the library, and I’m so glad to hear that people are reading that. It’s really one of my all-time favorites.

  6. Ruthie Says:

    Hi :-)

    I really enjoy your blog, and find a lot of my opinions on frugality and life mirrored here, even though we’re in different situations. I especially loved your comment on hyperactive tightwaddery, which is something I see often on blogs and can’t quite wrap my mind around. Even if it’s free, would a year’s supply of pop-tarts be good for your health at any time?

    On nutrition, I’ve done a lot of research myself, being a vegan and such a member of a highly nutrition-minded group, but I personally find Michael Pollan’s quote to be the summary of all nutritional wisdom: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

    I admit to still reading health books on occasion (it’s an addiction), but try not to get caught up in the little details about how much/how little of what. Like you said, it usually just makes me crave the wrong things anyway!

    This book by the ADA is probably the most exhaustive and least biased book on nutrition I’ve found (at my local library)

    That being said, in my life, I try very hard to eat in a way that is very healthy, yet not influenced by how much money we make. I find that I can eat a varied, healthful diet and always fall way below the food stamp allotment amount for our size family, even with daily soymilk (but not daily soy cheese, pseudo meats, etc. I prefer beans anyway!)

    Anyway, I want to thank you for what you’re doing and let you know I’m along for the ride! I wish it was easier to explain to people just where I stand. Nutritionally-minded people who eat all organic, high-raw, lots of super greens concentrate and goji berries balk at our consumption of white flour, while your average american AND hyperactive thrifty people think a life of fruits, veggies, beans and grains would be dreadful.

  7. Amy Says:

    I have been reading reviews of David A Kessler’s The End of Overeating: Taking Control of America’s Insatiable Appetite, which sees to address the issues you are thinking about, regarding Big Food, as they call the food industry. Kessler likens the marketing and product engineering practices of the food manufacturers to those of Big Tobacco.

    There is an audio excerpt on Simon and Schuster’s website which is very informative, (the audio file, not the video, which didn’t tell me much.):

  8. Amy Says:

    Oh goodness, I just watched a video of Gary Taubes on You Tube, after you mentioned him. Now I’m convinced I need to stop eating pasta, cereal and bread immediately! It’s really enough to make your head spin.

  9. cybele Says:

    I’m really really enjoying In Defense Of Food, by Michael Pollan, who says that if your great-grandma wouldn’t have recognized it as food, it probably isn’t.

    He also advocates one day a week of meat-free meals. I think we’re probably up to two or three meat-free days a week, and I’m not sure the kids even notice.

    ‘Mostly plants’ describes our diet… we’re up from $21 a week for the three of us to $35-40 a week, which is replenishing the pantry a bit as well. Eating very little meat and few processed foods (I’m working on none, but it’s a slow journey) makes us all feel healthier and more satiated.

    I’m going to put ‘Don’t Eat This Book’ on my wishlist right away. Thank you yet again.

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