Sunday, March 14, 2010

book review

Sorry if you read my blog through google reader, you got to read the notes for this blog this weekend- which were probably confusing. In blogger when you accidentally publish (which is really easy to do) you just re save as a draft and no one is the wiser. Apparently in google reader, it still shows that post even though it was publish for less than 10 seconds. It just goes to show that once you put something on the Internet.... it's there. Anyway, here's the full post.

Sorry for the length- feel free to skim. Regular, much shorter posts returning this week.

At Christmas time, my crazy reader of a sister in law got like 1000 books as gifts. She left this book with me since it was something I wanted to read as well. It was Robyn O'Brien's book, The Unhealthy Truth: How our food is making us sick and what we can do about it.

This was a really interesting book. As I mentioned yesterday, we have made some food changes at our house because of it (milk). Many of the ideas in the book were not new ones to me, but sometimes it takes being presented with facts repeatedly to 1. believe it, and 2. do something about it. As far as the topics it included, it was a little all over the map. The prologue and first chapters made me think it was more about food allergies, but then it covered other health issues related to food. Once I got past this, there was a lot of good information to be read. O'Brien has really done her research. She is just a mom, a mom with kids with food allergies- both diagnosed and previously undiagnosed. She started researching food issues and uncovered some big cover ups and little known food industry secrets all Erin Brockovich style.

I'm going to have to purchase a new copy of this book for my sister in law because I've already lent this one out! That being said, I only have the info from my notes to reference for the rest of this. I wish I would have written this up before I shared the book.

One of the stats that O'Brien shared that I find startling is that the peanut allergy rate doubled between 1997 and 2002. 2002 is the most recent count, so imagine what it is now. 97-02, that's just 5 years. What changed in that time? What was different? Our food is different. The additives, the colorings, the preservatives, but especially the grains of wheat, corn and soy are different. They are genetically modified. Using genetically modified food products just haven't been researched. There haven't been any long term studies. Here's where she has started uncovering all kinds of big pharmaceutical and big agriculture and FDA interplay. Real sketchy shading interplay. Our food industry is allowed to do and use things that other countries (Europe, Japan, Australia, Russia, and some 40 developing countries) have forbidden in the use in their food products.

I also found it interesting that some manufactures (kraft, coca cola, walmart, etc) voluntarily removed certain preservatives, sweeteners, and chemicals from their products in other countries. Why not in the United States? There was a study done somewhere in Europe about chemical additives effecting children's behavior and the public became all riled up about it. Before the additives could become banned, the companies voluntarily removed the ingredients from their food items just to please public demand. Because it was a foreign study, people here in the US haven't really head of it and thus we still have the ingredients.

One last super interesting thing is that there is little funding for testing of new food additives and food practices through the FDA. The 'testing' that is happening is from the companies creating the food items themselves. The doctors and scientist used in the testing are on staff with the companies themselves. Often times these are doctors and scientist that are or have been on staff with the FDA too. It all seems so shady.

This book sure made me think about trusting the government to protect our food. I'm sure not a 'conspiracy theory' kind of gal, but some of the research presented by O'Brien had me pretty fired up.

The section at the end where she shared some things you can do or changes you can make at home was a little disappointing. I was hoping to get some tips on taking healthy eating to the next level. She started from a different place than we are as far as food choices. She was feeding her kids dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, mac and cheese from a box and blue yogurt in a tube. She says that she doesn't cook much and this was her go-to meal for the kids. The changes she made have taken them to food that is healthier, but since she doesn't cook much- they still involve to much processed food for my liking.

tomorrow- back to regular posts!


Amanda Pedro said...

thanks for your introduction to this book. We're interested in this type of info and wasn't aware of it. I look forward to buying it and discovering all she has to say. We switched to organic milk a few years ago. I didn't understand why my husband was willing to spend $10 on 4 liters instead of $5 for the regular milk. Now I'm glad he did.
thanks for sharing

Kelly Nieman Anderson said...

The part about how Europe has "cleaner" food than us was really interesting to me. Esp. bc I read this book about 2 weeks before we went to the U.K. on vacation. There was soooo much healthy food available at convenience stores (really! we ate fruit every day at the train station!) and also much better food labeling. Most everything - even convenience foods like packaged stuff - had really clear labeling. When we're traveling is when we eat the worst, bc we don't have time to cook. But the U.K. had dried bananas right next to potato chips and fruit smoothies right next to coke and they were all about the same price. Faster food restaurants had healthy options available bc the menus had to give nutrition information, and once people know what's in a BigMac, they'd like to eat something else!
I did like this book, but definitely agree with you that her suggestions at the end were not so helpful. I think the book was better for defending why I"m spending more money for organic milk or mac n' cheese in the brown box.

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