For what could essentially be called a cook book Nourishing Traditions does and excellent job of fighting the "raw milk battle" and convinced me of the safety and health benefits of raw milk, along with fermented foods, and bone broth, and pasture raised livestock, and.... I actually sat down and read the entire book in my spare time over the course of a week. Make sure not to skip the side line narratives in the margins, this is what really got me thinking and inspired me to read the rest of the book. The sidebar stories are great!
1) The organization of the book. It starts off with a great preface that explains the necessity and importance that the author feels in writing her book and the message she would like to convey, Sally Fallon would like to explain how technological innovations to food are harming human health and how knowledge of food and health from indigenous peoples, first nations, and traditional ways of preparing food (e.g. olde English, Scottish, and Russian methods) can be leveraged to improve and sustain human health- to make it so we can thrive as healthy happy beings. She then follows up her preface with a thorough and well-cited introduction that covers what she calls "Politically Correct Nutrition", and then she goes through each food group (Fats, Carbohydrates, Proteins, Milk & milk Products, Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, Salt/Spices, Beverages, and Diets/Allergies) and explains what she finds to be wrong with "PC ideas", the flawed analysis of these food groups in "PC diets", and what she believes is actually beneficial for human health from an anthropological, physiological, and biochemical standpoint. Then, after the introduction, the book is organized like a typical cookbook. With each section of recipes that she has grouped together, she starts each section off with a page or two explaining the thoughts and rationale behind the recipes and methods used in each section. Then, within each section of recipes, there is a lot of cited material from papers, other books, journals, and magazines that talk about issues related to the recipes contained within each section. I especially enjoyed how well-cited the book is, because it demonstrates that she took the time to understand the whole subject and what is going on.
2) Thoroughness. I liked how much effort has gone into the book she wrote, and again, it's all the excerpts that I really love and the completeness of her analysis. One of the things I enjoyed from the anthropological approach taken is that it demonstrates how diet is not a one-size -fits-all kind of thing, and she shows quite well how societies all over the world have good and healthy diets that nourish them under many different conditions and climates. There are some overarching principles that can be gleaned, like including saturated fats in one's diet, eating fermented foods, and eating that has been grown in an appropriate and respectful manner to the environment and to that organism. The book also brought to light the many names of evil- toxins and poisons- that are in our food supply, so I have a better idea of what I need to look out for. Most importantly, she also takes the time ti explain why these toxins and poisons are not good for you, and just as well, she takes the time to explain why all these foods she believes are good are healthy for you to eat and enjoy.
3) Sensibility. As far as I understand the subject, I think what she has written in the book makes sense and is accurate. It jives with what I have learned at college in my biochemistry and microbiology classes, and it makes sense with what I know from the primal movement, which looks at human health from a human physiology and anthropological approach.
So, overall, I gotta say, I loved this book! It opened my eyes more to the breadth of the dangers of technological processing of foods, what poisons/toxins I need to look out for, and best of all, it described the great variety of healthy diets and foods out there and plenty of recipes that I can prepare for myself! That was a key take away from the book- there is more than one way to eat right!
It’s a cookbook. That’s what I told myself when I clicked Amazon to make the order. It was thick at just shy of 700 pages, so I thought perhaps I would be getting a book similar to the Joy of Cooking. A sort of omnibus of traditional foods. Yes… and no. It started with around 75 pages on the state of nutrition and understanding the basic understandings of the author. Case studies and traditional cultures were explored and by the time you get to the recipes, you have a solid understanding of what to expect.
What caught me off guard after that was realizing that every page had more information in the corner. Not recipe notes, but details on different aspects of nutrition. Instead of just a cookbook, I got a cookbook and a book exploring details of understanding ideal human nutrition. There’s so much to digest (see what I did there?) that it feels more like the book breaks 1000 pages!
The nutrition data isn’t just ‘I feel this way’, but includes endless studies that back up the information so that those who tend to dismiss anything not backed by a scientific study have nowhere to run to dismiss what it explores. I figure I am going to be reading one or two of these margin stories periodically for years to come. As to the recipes, some of them appeal to me more than others. As a cookbook, I am inclined to put it around an 8, but all the extra information really elevates it. As of this moment, I have around 25 bookmarks sticking from the top of it with recipes I fully intend to test and try.
So should you get it? I vote yes. Even if you don’t use a ton of the recipes, the information and numerous studies outlined within are a wealth of knowledge to have sitting at your fingertips.
For me, Nourishing Traditions was a myth buster. Much of my understanding of nutrition was based on commonly accepted dietary standards: fat is bad, meat is bad, eggs are bad, dairy is bad, vegetable oil is good, whole grain is good, etc. This book completely changed that. It is based on the research of Dr. Weston Price, who traveled the world studying the health and diets of indigenous peoples. Their diets were rich in meat, fat, and fermented foods, but amazingly they didn't have the same health problems that we see in the industrialized world today: heart disease, cancer, and a host of degenerative conditions. Nourishing Traditions presents the conclusions of his work, along with updated scientific studies to support them.
If you thumb through the book, you'll discover a cookbook. And it is, but it is also a complete dietary model for healthy living. It begins with a discussion of nutrients and their food sources, and then goes on to a chapter on "Mastering The Basics." These include cultured dairy products, fermented fruits and vegetables, sprouting grains, nuts & seeds, stocks, salad dressings, sauces, marinades, condiments, and about coconut products. The rest of the book covers every category of recipe you can imagine, including a chapter on feeding babies. Lots of interesting informational tidbits are to be found in the sidebars.
While I loved the information in the book, I have to admit that I haven't cared for many of the recipes. I use the principles and basic instructions for things like lacto-fermenting and neutralizing phytic acid in whole grains, but I've stuck with what my family likes and adapted my old familiar recipes easily with the information in this book.