Do butter, whole milk, hard-boiled eggs, and even lard sound like health food to you? Well, think again. Two refreshing new books turn the tables on the calorie-counting, mini-nutrition bar, point-allotted prepackaged-meal world we’ve come to live in. Michael Pollan‘s new book In Defense of Food pinpoints an”American paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become.” He argues that what we’re eating today isn’t food but, “edible foodlike substances,” and that 30 years of professional nutritional advice has only made us fatter and sicker people. His proposal: eat food, food your grandmother would recognize as food. Pollan teaches us to relearn which foods are healthy, learn to eat moderately, and bring dinner from in front of the TV or the car or wherever we’re always rushing around to, back to the dinner table. The long-term result? A life firmly grounded in easy-going nutrition, and ultimately enriched by pleasurable eating once more. Sounds fabulous to me.
What if I proposed that a lot of what we’ve learned about nutrition in the last generation is either misinformed or completely wrong? That’s exactly what Nina Planck, a champion of “real food,” has done in her book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why. A successful creator and manager of urban green markets, Planck was plucked out of the city by her parents as a toddler, and moved to an organic farm in Virginia, growing up around those who not only found joy in raising food, but could explain why those foods made sense. In her book, Planck, like Pollan, urges her readers to think back to what their grandmothers ate: meats, dairy, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Citing recent and respected studies, she maintains that the only sensible diet happens to be the one we actually crave, traditional, real food. All in all, the book concludes that good nutrition must involve enjoyment of food in all its variety.