20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific Support for Traditional Diets. Wonderful
This book by Sally Fallon (with Mary Enig, Ph.D.) is an inspiring polemic against both commercial, prepared food trends and some governmental and research leaders who appear to be making recommendations on nutrition under the influence of commercial interests.
My first impression of the book is that it shows exactly how hard nutritional science actually is. The authors...
Published on Feb 27 2004 by B. Marold
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Second thoughts on this book
I reviewed this book earlier and gave it 5 stars. I still believe the book has some good information, but I have to say that in practice, much of the food (dairy and grains) doesn't work for me.
I think this book way overemphasies the importance of dairy. I'm allergic to all forms myself but even in its raw form, very few peoples have traditionally consumed raw milk...
Published on Feb 19 2003 by Benner
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific Support for Traditional Diets. Wonderful,
This review is from: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Paperback)This book by Sally Fallon (with Mary Enig, Ph.D.) is an inspiring polemic against both commercial, prepared food trends and some governmental and research leaders who appear to be making recommendations on nutrition under the influence of commercial interests.
My first impression of the book is that it shows exactly how hard nutritional science actually is. The authors are citing hundreds of technical works from both demographic and controlled experiment studies regarding thousands of different food components in their way to painting a complete picture of good nutrition. Their starting point in painting this picture is the common sense assumption that historical, natural diets are invariably more healthy than those laden with commercially processed foods. This assumption is backed up by demographic research done in the first third of the last century. This is the import of the 'traditions' in the title.
It turns out that the potential allies of the authors' approach come from such different quarters as the Atkins diet advocates who endorse eating meat, eggs, and other proteins in preference to (processed) carbohydrates and the 'Raw Food' wing of the vegetarian / vegan movement. The latter camp would wholeheartedly endorse the authors' issues with eating foods that retain their original enzymes to aid in digestion. I'm sure the vegans and the Atkins camp will not join forces any time soon, but their appearance in the same metaphorical room on the side of the authors' position is another indication of how multi-sided complex scientific theories can become.
I have no facts to confirm or challenge the authors' claim of corruption on the part of some academics in endorsing a nutritional position to back commercial interests. I will only say that it is irrelevant to the central tenant of the book, which in very simple terms is 'Eat the way your great grandparents ate'. Some of the more important details are:
1. Avoid processed fats, starches, sugars, and proteins. They are not of no value. They are unhealthy.
Almost all of the authors' statements on individual nutritional facts are backed up by published scientific research. One or two or even ten percent of their references may be flawed, but the overall weight of their evidence is truly impressive. The only problem I find in their characterization of the way things are today is in not giving full credit to medical science in lengthening our lifespans through the suppression of infectious diseases. This is likely to be the reason behind the increase in the frequency of deaths by degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease, not a catastrophic loss of nutritional value in our diets. That is not to say their claims about the drop in the quality of our diet are not true. Always remember that these gals are making a case, they are not simply publishing scientific results.
While I think the authors have a strong case against processed foods, I find it difficult to fully endorse their next step. Their solution takes us close to the land of food extremists such as both traditional vegetarians and the more radical proponents of 'raw' diets. What this means is that they raise up foods which are hard to find or difficult to prepare or are prepared in ways unfamiliar to American kitchens. This may not necessarily be a bad thing. It tends to appeal to my 'Whole Earth Catalog' mentality of the home-brew lifestyle. But this lifestyle is simply not practical for the millions who work long, stressful hours followed by time devoted to kids and spouses.
My skepticism regarding their solutions is reinforced by some culinary misstatements such as the suggestion to refrigerate tomatoes after they ripen, to not add garlic to hot fat, and that artisinal breads are not good for sandwiches. The second and third statements are refuted daily by traditional Italian cooking practice. Their condemnation of all aluminum cookware and the microwave also seem more extreme than they need be.
What I take from this work is the very cautious and undramatic conclusion that the safest (and most interesting) culinary path lies in the study and emulation of historical diets. This gives a strong theoretical underpinning to my admiration of educators such as Mario Batali and Paula Wolfert who examine and promote historical cuisines based on the 'what grows together, goes together'. This could easily be a subtitle of this book. It also gives support to practitioners such as Rachael Ray who promote fast cooking without resorting to overly processed ingredients.
I love a book that pulls together and validates a wide range of (my) opinions. While this book may not always be right, it is supremely valuable in its provocation to thinking. It is also supremely valuable in it's demonstrating the value of some less common foods such as sauerkraut, crème fraiche, and kim chee. This value doubles in that it actually tells you how to make this stuff. Lest it be overlooked, it is important to note that the lions share of the book is a fairly large cookbook of recipes with methods and materials that follow the book's doctrines.
At a list price of $25, the catalogue of vegetables chapter alone is almost worth the price of admission. I'm happy that here, the authors part company with both the advocates of 'raw' and the old Adele Davis doctrine of saving veggie cooking water. They reinforce again the conventional wisdom of old school culinary practice which rarely leaves veggies raw. Some raw vegetables contain some bad things and cooking almost always makes the good things more available to digestion.
I recommend this book to everyone as the very next book you need to buy about food.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite cookbook (and I have many),
This review is from: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Paperback)I absolutely love this book. I have to be careful not to spend too much time reading it, there's so much information on every page. Most of the recipes I've tried have turned out very well as long as I follow them well. My kids love the baking I do with it.
Also, I have switched to raw milk, as my children are big milk addicts. Their health has improved because of it, and they never fail to get sick when the raw milk is unavailable. If you get your milk from a reputable source, there is no need to worry about contamination. You can get salmonella from pasteurized milk as well. The taste is much better, and my husband can drink it without his stomach being bothered. This subject is well worth further study if you are skeptical.
Anyway, as far as the time involved, mostly you have to plan ahead. Soaking your grains does not require extra work so much as extra time. It demands a new way of life, which for me has been more of a gradual process of adding one new thing at a time instead of becoming overwhelmed with trying to change everything at once. Add what works for you and live a better life even if it's not perfect. I can't tell you how much better real food tastes and how much better you feel when you cut out processes and refined foods. this is "health" food that pleases the pickiest of eaters and never looks scary!
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning achievement; THE essential food guide/bible,
This review is from: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Paperback)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.
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.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Second thoughts on this book,
I think this book way overemphasies the importance of dairy. I'm allergic to all forms myself but even in its raw form, very few peoples have traditionally consumed raw milk. And further back, no one consumed it. Most people on the planet to this day cannot digest raw milk. There is still too much lactose whether you leave it raw, culture it or wish it had none. Pasteurized milk is really bad for you but raw milk still has some of the problems as it still has the lactose and the proteins. It aslo needs to be handled very carefully.
Cultured pasteurized products like yogurt still have many of the problems of pasteurized milk.
I found the suggestion to include whey, a major milk protein, as a starter in many of the recipes unless you are very allergic too it not to make much sense as you should completely avoid foods you are allergic too as they act as a poison in your body. I did try some of the recipes without whey and they didn't work very well.
This book also bases a lot of its traditional methods of food preparation on very recent techniques. 1000 years ago is nothing in human time and there does seem to be evidence that for most of humanities time, we ate nothing like this. We are mainly meat, fruit and non starchy veg eaters, with very small amounts of denser carbohydrate foods thown in. There is a lot of evidence that yeasts may not be so good for many of us. There is speculation that it may contribute to autism amoung other conditions.
There is much evidence that we did not consume grains for most of our history. Nor did we use yeast in our foods. Or dairy. In a sense, these three foods could be labled newfangled as the amount of time we have been eating them is a drop in time.
Another problem is the books very strong emphasis on "debunking" the whole saturated fats issue. The problem many have with saturated fats is not saturated fat in and of itself, it is the type of saturated fat. Mainly the kind of fat that develops when you feed an animal (or human) large amounts of grain. This is not a healthy fat and is not the kind of fat that was eaten 20,000 years ago.
Also, some of the long lived peoples that are referenced apparently have been studied and have been shown to have deficiency diseases and to have partaken in selective upbringing where sickly offspring are allowed to die which of course makes for a very hardy population....
Still, the book has some good information about fats.
If you want a healthy diet stick with fish, free range grass fed meat with the fat, coconut oil, olive oil, fruits and mainly non starchy vegetables and avoid any form of bread and pasta. Be careful with raw dairy, yeast foods and any form of grain, especially gluten grains (wheat, rye, barley and probably oats). They have a relatively very short history of use and they give many people huge problems regardless of how they are prepared.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books Ever Written Period!!,
The diet recommended in this book is based on traditional foods used by very healthy people (and very long lived people) all over the world for thousands of years. These people all have one thing in common. They don't used processed, pasteurized, denatured food. Some cultures and lands use unpastuerized milk products as staples, others use raw meat or focus on cooked and raw meat. All peoples consume some form of unprocessed animal product, with fat and enzymes intact. They also use lacto fermented products, from yogurt to fermented fruits, vegetables and meats. The fermentation makes the food very easy to digest, adds friendly intestinla bacteria and preserves the food. The book also explains proper preparation of grains (usually soaking for a period of time) to remove phytates and make the nutrients more available.
The book is based on Weston Price's (others have validated his research and have conducted their own) research on "primitive peoples" diets from around the world. He was a dentist who traveled around the world checking the health of these people and then compared their health with the health of these same peoples when they ate processed food diets as they became available.
This is a very good book with very valuable information. The information on fats is extremely important.
Defintely the best book ever written on diet and nutrition and probably one of the best books ever written period.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read & Cookbook,
Nourishing Traditions was first published in 1995 and caused quite a stir in the nutritional world. Here was a cookbook authored by two noted nutrition writers that condemned margarine, low-fat diets, skim milk, and the Lipid Hypothesis of heart disease. Here was a book that said excessive carbohydrate intake, even complex, was bad for you. Here was a book that told its readers to eat butter, cook with coconut oil, and drink raw milk. Here was a book that said meat and fish were healthy foods. Here was a book that said tofu and soy milk were unhealthy. Here was a book that extolled the nutritional virtues of organ meats and urged a return to liver with bacon and onions once a week.
What heresy was this?
Fallon, who holds a Masters degree in Literature, studied French cooking while living in France. She is also a self-taught nutrition and food science whiz who learned what a healthy diet was by studying the pioneering work of Dr. Weston Price, DDS, author of the classic Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
Enig received her doctoral degree in Nutrition Science from the University of Maryland and is a world renowned expert on lipid biochemistry, particularly trans-fatty acids. Enig provides the appropriate scientific background for Fallon's varied and plentiful recipes.
Fallon and Enig are a formidable writing team who have co-authored numerous ground breaking articles on soy and the political machinations of the edible oil industry. This second edition of Nourishing Traditions is their latest delectable offering.
Nourishing Traditions is as much a nutritional handbook as it is a cookbook. Indeed, the book opens with a 70+ page section on nutritional basics, discussing the biochemistry of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. This section takes special aim at "politically correct" nutrition, pointing out its shortcomings and blatant fallacies. One particularly interesting tidbit is Harvard University's Dr. Frederick Stare's endorsement of Coca-Cola as a healthy, between-meal snack!
The most telling part of this section is Fallon's spirited nutritional defense of saturated fats, especially butter and coconut oil. Drawing on research from Price and Enig (who is an expert on coconut oil and lauric acid, the medium-chain triglyceride found in coconut), Fallon shows her readers why these shunned foods are health promoting and why people need to add them back into their diets. By contrast, however, Fallon includes considerable scientific rhetoric against margarine, vegetable shortening, refined sugar, and vegetable oils: the stepchildren of modern "food technology" and the "Diet Dictocrats."
The revealing nutrition section is followed by the recipes. Fallon has everything covered, from soup to nuts. Different chapters on appetizers, sauces, fermented vegetables, soups, organ meats, traditional meats, fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, snack and finger foods, and healthy desserts demonstrate the depth of Fallon's culinary talents and knowledge. They also give the reader hundreds of suggestions for nutrient-dense, good tasting food. Fallon even has a chapter on how to make one's own beverages to replace soda pop and coffee.
The unique thing about this book, however, is the marginal notes that are on every page of the recipe section. Lining the sides of each page are nutritional and scientific tidbits on various foods; nutritional anthropology; nutrition studies; book excerpts from Linus Pauling, H. Leon Abrams, Dr. Price, and other authors; and myths/truths about nutrition with full references to assorted scientific journals. While some of these features were in the first edition, the second edition expands them considerably. They provide an excellent and interesting compliment to the wealth of recipes.
Nourishing Traditions is above all a cookbook that respects and promotes the culinary traditions of our ancestors, ancestors virtually untouched by cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, etc. It is by following these traditions, says Fallon, that we will find true and lasting health for ourselves and our children. In my public lectures, I always recommend this book to my audiences as an absolutely essential guide to healthy living and eating. Find out why. Buy this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, BUT With One Caveat,
There is however, one caveat I would issue to readers of this book. Fallon is an enthusiastic advocate of raw milk, citing the destruction of enzymes that occur during milk pasteurization. I totally agree that we should eat a significant portion of our food raw, but the frequent detection of Salmonella, Brucella, Escheria Coli, Corynebacteria, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Listeria, Mycobacteria, Campylobacter and Yersinia in raw milk samples should convince all but the most foolhardy to look elsewhere for raw sources of food enzymes.
73 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like the ideas, not the presentation,
However, I have to say that as I read more of this book, I'm somewhat disappointed. She has some great ideas that I'm definitely going to pay more attention to in my diet, like more fermented foods, and I think this book finally gave me the ammo to once and for all kick the potato chip habit. But the presentation she uses is so confusing, and worse, loaded with pseudo-science and poor reasoning, that I don't feel I can take too many of her assertions on faith.
The main thrust of her theory seems to be two-fold - first that pure, natural animal products are a normal part of the human diet and second that any kind of non-traditional food processing (any factory foods) are bad. OK, I can go with that. I know many people would disagree with the first part of her theory, and even if you do agree, it's REALLY hard to find pure pasture-fed animal products, even here in the Midwest. When you can find them, they are so expensive.
Not that I could even try to hit everything she covers in her book, but here are a few specific things that gave me pause -
- she says vegetarians 'Because grains and pulses [that's beans for us Americans] eaten alone cannot supply complete amino acids, vegetarians must take care to balance the two at every meal.' I didn't think ANYONE still believed that.
- she refers often to the nutritional work of a Dr. Weston Price. He's a dentist. OK, that doesn't necessarily mean he DOESN'T know much about nutrition (and keep in mind I wouldn't automatically assume any medical doctor knows anything about nutrition either), but it doesn't mean he DOES know anything either, yet she's clearly using his title of Dr. to try to give his words more weight. Why not just say 'Look, most people who know a lot about nutrition are self-taught'?
- she vilifies a certain Dr. Frederick Stare, former head of the nutrition dept. at Harvard, quoting him several times as saying silly things like Coca-Cola makes a good snack. Some of the things she has him saying were so silly I looked him up on the internet. He was head of nutrition dept. at Harvard, yes, but he was appointed in 1941 - I think we've ALL learned a good bit about nutrition in the 60+ years since then!! But she never mentions how old this info is in her book.
- she pans white flour in part because it's 'only' been in existence for about 400 years, yet defends feeding animal products to cows and chickens, referring to it as 'a practice that dates back almost 100 years'.
In my experience, this kind of sloppy argument means one of two things - either the writer doesn't really understand how to construct a sound bit of persuasive reasoning and is just so excited about their beliefs that they are being a little blind about it, or they are deliberately trying to mislead. I suspect it's just the first here, but still!
I don't want it to sound like I don't like the book, actually I do. I'm probably going to try a lot of her recipes and read further on many of the topics she's brought up. And I'll probably suggest the book to friends, with caveats of course. But I'm taking it with a BIG grain of salt.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good, some bad...,
By A Customer
We are still vegetarian and always will be (Ms. Fallon's assertion that vegetarians are atttempting to take heavan by storm is indicative of her many biases). However, using information from this book, we learned the importance of saturated fats, animal source proteins, lower carb food choices, the benefit of fermented foods, and the "conspiracy" of soy.
All of these things have profoundly affected the way we live and feel. There are several health complaints we had that have disappeared completely simply through the above mentioned changes. Things like mucous (throat and nose), bloating, lethargy, skin irritation, joint pain etc.
What I most appreciate from this book is that it made me aware of things I'd never really heard of before. And considering that I come from a very health conscious background, I was rather suprised at what I was missing. I would still recommend this book as an introduction to many subjects that mainstream (and alternative) health experts are often silent on. However, I would definately advise everyone to continue further research of the subjects presented.
On a side note: the recipes in this book are, by and large, a nightmare. I don't know about you, but I personally don't have time to make whey, soak grains 2 days ahead, make stock (by boiling down a whole chicken for hours), and lacto ferment a bunch of veggies for ONE RECIPE!! This book is a GOOD introduction, but a poor practical day to day guide on nutrition.
Hope this helps.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book......,
Many of Fallon's suggestions are accepted across the nutritional spectrum (banish refined sugar, flour, etc.), and some of her ideas have been accepted into the main stream in the past few years (value of Omega-3 fats), but most of her ideas are ignored although they are very sound. Fallon supports the notion that food growing and preparation in the old days was pretty good, i.e. traditional food preparation using organic foods is a healthy way to live. Many of the ailments modern folks suffer are brought about because of BAD food. Folks who practice traditional diets using organic foods are generally healthier.
Organic yogurt, ghee, free range chicken, miso, cod liver oil, honey, etc. are all associated with good health and long life. Unfortunately, simply buying "good" food in a supermarket is not enough. For example, you can buy honey, but unless you eat raw honey without pesticide and herbicide ingredients, you are wasting your time and money. Non-organic yogurt filled with sugar and other material has little or no nutrient value. Milk collected from abnormal cows and homogenized and ultra pasturized contains no healthful organisms, including the bacteria in the pus "modern" cows secret.
Perhaps the worst thing those on a weight-loss diet can hear is that many of the so-called "low-fat" and other lo-cal foods may actually cause you to gain weight. Some of the chemicals in convenience foods actually inhibit the thyroid. I received this book as a Christmas gift, but if I didn't already own it, I'd buy it.
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Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon (Paperback - April 8 2003)
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