Book Review: Food Politics



Here I move amongst my volume learnin again! I reviewed Dr. Marion Nestle’s Food Politics for the saltation 2014 number of Wise Traditions, the periodical of the Weston A. Price Foundation. You tin read it here, or experience complimentary to hop on over to their site in addition to read it there. (I recommend staying here, though. I shout out back they edited it a tiny bit. Plus, their site doesn't receive got the nifty links Ive included.)


Before nosotros acquire into it, permit me merely say that I am in all likelihood the alone mortal on the planet who’s read this volume for fun. (Well, maybe non for fun, but non for school, either. Let’s chalk it upwards to personal education.) This volume is in all likelihood required reading inwards many academy nutrition in addition to dietetics programs. I’m glad I wasn’t forced to read it, because that would receive got made this dense tome that much to a greater extent than of a create out to acquire through. It was hard plenty doing it for my ain reasons. That beingness said, it was educational. I learned a lot most the devious back-door deals that are what ultimately drive the U.S.A. government's national dietary recommendations. (I assure you, they receive got almost null to practise amongst actual human physiology in addition to biochemistry.) And I also learned that fifty-fifty the most impressively-credentialed professional person (i.e., the writer of this book) tin completely ignore scientific facts inwards favor of the political games in addition to sweeping generalizations she claims to abhor.

If my review hadnt been intended for the WAPF journal, at that topographic point would receive got been lots of sarcasm in addition to mayhap a few swear words scattered throughout it. Where the volume is good, its great, but where its bad, it sucks the large one. Frankly, at times I merely wanted to shove Dr. Nestles confront inwards a biochem textbook. (Note: she has no relation to the mega-huge nutrient corporation of the same spelling. Her shout out rhymes amongst trestle, similar develop trestle, non similar the Crunch candy bar or Toll House cookies.)

And amongst that, on amongst the show!

Marion Nestle is i of the most well-respected in addition to ofttimes quoted authorities on nutrient marketing in addition to authorities nutrition policies. She is a professor inwards New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, in addition to Public Health, in addition to was the subdivision chair from 1988-2003. Her CV is an impressive list of academic in addition to professional person credentials, publications, honoraria, in addition to awards. Food Politics, i of her most well-known works, is an in-depth in addition to damning expose of how nutrient companies, lobbyists, authorities agencies, in addition to congressional representatives often serve their ain interests at the expense of populace health. Unfortunately, her unquestionable expertise inwards these political matters is clouded past times her blanket condemnations of saturated fat, cholesterol, in addition to salt. Her clinging to these outdated beliefs overshadows what is otherwise an first-class treatise on the often invisible forces behind national nutrition policy. 

Dr. Nestle explains the all-too-familiar revolving door betwixt nutrient companies, lobbying firms, in addition to the highest echelons of government. The occupation inwards regulatory agencies of individuals amongst long professional person in addition to fiscal ties to nutrient processors is a glaring example of the play a joke on guarding the henhouse. The same could live said for food manufacture sponsorship of the Academy of Nutrition in addition to Dietetics (AND, formerly the ADA, American Dietetic Association). Nestle takes the AND to trace of piece of work for this supreme conflict of interest, in addition to mentions registered dietitians who are uncomfortable amongst the obvious implications but experience powerless to influence the larger organization. (Update: If y'all desire to know how bad it actually is out there, cheque out this floor from merely a couplet of days agone on how “eat less, movement more” equally the fundamental to getting to in addition to maintaining a good for y'all weight. She makes no advert whatsoever of the different hormonal effects of fat, protein, in addition to carbohydrate, nor of the powerful utilization these play inwards the rule of appetite in addition to body fatty storage in addition to mobilization.

One thing she does blast on the head, however, is that nutrient companies besides often similar to “blame the victim,” in addition to tell us that trunk weight is a affair of personal alternative in addition to personal responsibility, thereby absolving themselves of whatsoever utilization their pervasive advertising in addition to well-researched marketing strategies powerfulness receive got inwards making it harder for the populace to make goodness choices. The truth is, feeding ourselves good is most personal responsibility, but it’s easier to brand improve choices when we’re non bombarded amongst advertisements extolling the virtues of soy, vegetable oils, in addition to sugary breakfast cereals.

Food Politics is an of import work. Unfortunately, spell Nestle reveals the back-door deals in addition to “follow-the-money” games that arts and crafts nutrition policy and, ultimately, the products nosotros encounter at the store, she does in addition to then spell continuously harping on her nutritional bad-boys (red meat, cheese, butter, eggs, etc.), equally if the scientific discipline were settled equally to what causes obesity, middle disease, in addition to many other modern ills. As readers of this journal know alone besides well, the scientific discipline is far from settled, in addition to to a greater extent than cracks look daily inwards the brick wall of the low-fat, low-cholesterol, grain-centric diet. It is disconcerting that someone amongst a PhD inwards molecular biology—particularly someone who has such wide influence inwards the pop media equally good equally inwards the classroom—has failed to remain electrical current on the scientific literature.

The writer states inwards the appendix, “The optimal ranges of intake of specific nutrients tin live estimated alone for populations. Optimal intakes for individuals are hard to define; people vary inwards requirements for genetic reasons, in addition to also because diet interacts amongst other factors that impact the utilization of nutrients, such equally smoking cigarettes, taking medications, in addition to beingness physically active.” Despite this, Dr. Nestle seems to rely on the now-defunct nutrient pyramid to guide everyone. She refers often to the virtues of the complex carbohydrates, vegetables in addition to fruits that brand upwards the mass of the pyramid, spell using the phrase “top of the pyramid foods” for things similar fats, oils, in addition to sugars, which she would probable recommend everyone  limit, regardless of weight, illness condition, genetic propensity, or metabolic status. She pays brief lip service to the remove for individualization inwards dietary planning, but the bulk of the volume shows her to live firmly entrenched inwards conventional blanket recommendations.

She also says, “Nutrition is a thinking person’s field, requiring critical analysis at every pace of learning in addition to interpretation, equally good equally an unusually high tolerance for ambiguity in addition to uncertainty.” I couldn’t grip more. Unfortunately, Nestle doesn’t seem inclined to engage inwards critical analysis of the government’s nutrition recommendations of the concluding one-half century. She is quicker to propose that people receive got move to a greater extent than overweight in addition to chronically sick because they’re non next the recommendations, rather than entertain the possibility that those recommendations are flawed.

Dr. Nestle should stick to what she does best: calling out both private manufacture in addition to authorities agencies for their collusion inwards crafting toothless legislation that emphasizes personal choice, balance, in addition to moderation, spell doing everything they tin to growth profits in addition to encourage people to purchase in addition to consume more. I receive got no declaration amongst the writer on these issues. But if I were an overweight diabetic, I wouldn’t trust her to live my nutritionist. She would no incertitude encourage me to consume lots of healthy whole grains, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, in addition to bound my intake of the beast foods that receive got nourished healthy, robust, physically correspond people for thousands of years.  

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