Now I know that my mom really meant well on our family’s liver dinner night after reading Nina Planck’s guide to why she eats lard, raw milk, and organ meats in Real Food: what to eat and why. An intelligent gathering of research on good eating, this book emphasizes traditional foods: whole foods, animal fats, and grass-fed meat and dairy. Having been raised on margarine, I was fascinated by the chapters on fats, real and industrial, that include a short history of the butter substitute. Most illuminating are the changes in what fats Americans have been eating since the turn of the last century and how they have affected our health. One chart illustrates that the top three fats consumed in the U.S. in 1990 were soybean, canola, and cottonseed oils, all of which were nonexistent in traditional diets. The top three fats consumed in 1890 were lard, beef fat, and chicken fat. Planck points out that as Americans decreased their intake of animal fats, heart disease and other modern health problems increased. One reason I find Real Food interesting is that it briefly records the history of major changes in the American diet and their subsequent effects on health.
Most compelling is Planck’s explanation of the nutritional differences between pastured and grain-fed beef. Because of the proliferation of corn and soy in animal feed, Americans are eating less Omega-3 fatty acids and more Omega-6 fatty acids in their diets. Planck attributes this historic imbalance to a wealth of relatively recent health issues that include inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and depression. Michael Pollan addresses the same issue in Continue reading “Book Review: Real Food (and more)”