Let's face it - our foods have changed. And not for the better. In the long span of history, the last 100 years has wrought some devastating transformations in how food is handled, prepared, and, most insidiously - processed. Our genes are basically used to food that for millenia, was relatively pure, wholesome, unaltered and uncorrupted. So, since the turn of the century, matters began to shift. As manufacturing and processing became more sophisticated, food began to undergo a drastic change. Not having any longer to butcher our own beef, harvest our own vegetables and grains, make our own fats, we could rely on "companies" to start doing it for us. And what did we get in return? Fats (perhaps most disturbingly) are chemically altered and hydrogenated, turning them into dangerous poisons (just READ how margarine is made - it will incite one big colossal "yuck"); animals are mass produced in inhumane warehouses; are fed poor diets and get injected with god knows what; grains and vegetables are grown in sterile, pesticide-laden soils; refined, devitalized sugar and flour is in everything; we're offered and forced everything from hydrogenated fats to high-fructose corn syrup to MSG to plastic sugars. And guess what? This is the sickest, fattest time Americans live in. Heart disease, cancer, obesity, degenerative diseases, are at an all-time high. We have antibiotics, anti-imflammatories to conquer bacterial threats, but even those are getting increasingly less effective through overuse. We have needed the vaccines, antibiotics to treat and cure things like polio, smallpox, measles and a host of other killer diseases, but in return, we have heart disease, cancer, degenerative and neurological dysfunctions in its place. As this exhaustively researched and documented book illustrates, the culprits for this state of affairs is definitely tied to the devastating changes wrought in our foods. Though the medical establishment has found a way to treat diseases, it has ignored many of the current causes of those diseases in the first place.
This book offers a method, a return, so to speak, to a time when food was consumed in its purest state. Ironically, that's a difficult thing to do; only through specialty stores and suppliers can we get naturally raised food. Someone once said: "If God made it, then it's good; if man made it, beware." Most of the food - as cheaply and quickly made as possible - offered in supermarkets is nutritionally worthless, being as it is, refined, processed, laden with questionable chemicals and riddled with substances that have no place in our bodies. The sobering fact remains: most food conglomerates simply don't care about consumers' health.
Sally Fallon, along with Mary G. Enig, have done an astonishing, thorough and painstaking job in spelling out all that one needs to know regarding all manner of information about food. The writing is clear, easy to understand, and concise. The passion and near-missionary fervor with which they have pursued their topic is inspiring and infectious. The breadth of their research and work cannot be overestimated. The scope, level of information, exposés and hardcore truths these women offer is mesmerizing: one is fixated by what they know and the surprising, irrefutable facts that are detailed (by the way, the sidebars in the recipe sections of anecdotes, information and lore are fascinating). Fallon and Enig take on some of the most powerful and ruthless institutions in existence, and effectively challenge claims and biased studies. They even sniff out evidence of lies and corruption. It may in fact be the singular most important body of work on food contained in a single volume. In particular, one needs to pay attention to the information regarding the matter of fats. Enig, a PhD in lipid chemistry, plainly details how fats in today's food supply has wrought health havoc, what to avoid (polyunsaturates and hydrogenated fats are a menace), what is good, and how to go about using them correctly.
Many reviewers in this forum have complained of how complicated it is to take the time to properly prepare many of the foods and recipes Fallon offers. That may be so, but the time invested is worth it. As we as consumers are made more aware of how things must be done, it may be that we simply have no choice ~~ if we are to achieve the best of health ~~ to make the proper preparation of food a top priority once again. Some of the suggestions regarding raw foods is controversial, and not everyone will be convinced, but they make a strong case, nevertheless.
Some of the advice, as well is a bit too severe: Fallon encourages the total elimination of all caffeines, and that includes teas and coffees. No proof has been made that tea and coffee are harmful (unless of course, like anything, it is consumed in excess). Sometimes the book makes absolutely no allowances for an alternate method; some of the advice is eye-opening (like not cooking garlic in oil; sure it will burn if fried in high heat, but it can be sauteed gently. And, everyone KNOWS that refrigeration spoils the taste of tomatoes) In addition, not everyone will welcome the urging of a total abdication from anything even remotely bad for you - why not a white flour, white sugar cake once, twice a year? Despite this, it WAS necessary for Fallon and Enig to overcompensate in the manner they did, for this kind of information is sorely needed; one simply should read it thoroughly, then make their own choices to suit individual needs.
This book will not please vegans and vegetarians, who will be doing a virtual "foul" howl at the convincing scientific argument that we need animal fats and animal based foods. I will never consider vegetarianism after reading this book. Fallon makes a most eloquent plea for the bounty of animals we have been offered.
It is so easy to get carried away by the nutritional information, that it may be easy to overlook the marvelous, inventive and tantalizing recipes. Again, the scope, selection and research on these recipes is amazing...they are numerous, varied, and appetizing. Nearly every cultural cuisine is covered in some small or large part, and are clearly detailed. Most of all, if one relishes culinary challenges, there are some intriguing one as such offered here.
This marvelous volome may be the most valuable nutritional guide one should own. Most of all, it may be the most comprehensive, ground-breaking cookbook ever written ~~ as well as the most nutritionally crucial.