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The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making us Sick And What We Can Do About It

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,053 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
Robyn O’Brien is not the most likely candidate for an antiestablishment crusade. A Houston native from a conservative family, this MBA and married mother of four was not someone who gave much thought to misguided government agencies and chemicals in our food—until the day her youngest daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs, and everything changed. The Unhealthy T ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Crown Publishing Group (first published May 5th 2008)
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Sep 20, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel conflicted about this book. I think it brings up important, urgent issues, but the way O'Brien presents the information is torturous. Maybe I just have an aversion to her writing style: unnecessary repetition (I heard you the first 10 times!), persistent self-congratulation, mommy martyrdom, scapegoating, misrepresenting data to make her point, focusing on hearsay & anecdotal evidence, and using emotionally-charged/hostile language. At best, this book will inspire people to do their o ...more
Aug 02, 2009 Sophia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 30, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a life-changer! I feel like I want to give everyone I know a copy of this book! The author's journey into healthy eating was a lot like mine. She was just a regular mom feeding her family all the regular foods until one of her kids ended up with a food allergy and during her research uncovered more and more startling facts about our food. If any one wants to know why I feed my family the way I do...this is this book!!! Here are some tips if you do decide to read it:

1. Ple
Sep 04, 2014 Lisa marked it as gave-up-on  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, catastrophe
I appreciate the information that the author brought to light in this book, but--too bad--I thought her writing was crap. Much too sentimental, and she repeats herself a lot.
It was interesting, though, to have this information coming from someone to whom it was all totally new. I assumed everybody knew there were disgusting chemicals in mainstream processed food products and just didn't care, or couldn't afford the alternatives. The fact that many people are in such a state of ignorance was the
This book was boring at times, and if I had a dime for every time the author talked about her "Mama Guilt"...

I did learn why there has been such an increase in the number of kids/people affected by peanut, dairy, and other allergies. SPOILER: Over the past 10 years there has been a rise in the amount of genetically modified ingredients/organisms (GMOs) found in our food. 80% of the corn we ingest is GMO corn -- and we know that corn is in EVERYTHING processed these days (p.s. did you know that t
Oct 06, 2013 Zelda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How, with a helper author, did this book turn out so crappy? Self-centered writing, that's how. There isn't a single tone of self-important, resentful whining that doesn't appear in this book. Give us your background in the first chapter, hon, and then get on with the facts. The entire food industry doesn't revolve around martyr-you and your daughter Rory, the blown-up snubs you received from other organizations, and the persecution you've risen above oh-so-look-at-me-nobly but somehow can't sto ...more
Dec 21, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the past ten years, I have been diagnosed with several food sensitivities, including milk and soy. I was very interested in reading this book, but it turned out to be a big disappointment. Most of the problem with this book was the author's emotionally charged arguments and lack of rational thought. After reading this, I am quite certain that she is the type of mother to rush her child to the E.R. and demand stitches for a paper cut just to avoid the "Mama Guilt" and to be the overprotective ...more
"The Unhealthy Truth" has a lot of politics in it. O'Brien frequently says things along the lines of "I'm not saying they're evil/doing a bad job/the devil incarnate, but they are evil/doing a bad job/the devil incarnate". These things aside, I have learned a lot of valuable information that makes me second guess myself for reaching for that tasty double-stuf mint oreo in the cupboard and has me grabbing a kiwi instead.

I had no idea that soy was so controversial, and I had never given much thou
Jul 23, 2014 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-living
I would have preferred to give this 3.5 stars-- the information was spot-on. The writing drove me a little nuts. I would probably be in the minority as far as being bothered by the writing style. The book is written very conversationally and informally. I'm sure that makes it feel more accessible to a lot of people, but I am just not a fan of that writing style. That said, the information in this book is so important. I knew a lot of the basic facts, but Robyn filled in a lot of gaps for me. Eve ...more
Sep 10, 2009 Sera rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because Robyn discusses the Feingold Diet which my family follows with much success and I wanted to read her opinion on this diet.

Robyn's discussion of genetically altered food was very interesting. Her discussion about cows treated with antibiotics was also very interesting. I also especially liked her list of "dirty dozen" vegetables and fruits. I would have given the book 4 stars except for the following 2 reasons:

1. The book was written from the perspective of a hysterical
Oct 06, 2013 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has paid attention to recent (within the last 10 years) information about GM food or who has watched any number of documentaries about American food (Food, Inc., Fast Food Nation, etc.) and the problems created by large companies like Monsanto, will not be "shocked" by anything presented in this book. The author uses the word "shocking" multiple times in a way that makes it seem that her research is new; it's not! But to her, because it was new, she presents it as such. That said, wha ...more
May 07, 2013 Holly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Robyn O'Brien's conversational writing style because I prefer reading a book that feels like the author is conversing with me, rather than dryly lecturing me, and Robyn was both chatty and amusing throughout the book. Also, I very much appreciated her candor about her family's dietary issues and struggles and compromises. Her information about GMOs, preservatives, artificial ingredients, the FDA, patenting and the history of their approval, use and study around the globe is an excellen ...more
Stephanie Western
The 4 stars is based on the importance of the subject matter, NOT on the writing. Wish the co-author had tried harder to get rid of the redundancies. (She said "shocking" again. DRINK!). If you've read anything by Michael Pollan or watched Food, Inc. you already know our food production system (and the head honchos who have lawmakers and enforcement agencies in their pocket$) are evil. But this book talks specifically about kids and how food additives, colors, and genetically-modified ingredient ...more
I think the author makes some valid points. I had not put much thought into GMO foods before, but she has made me think about some of the possible implications. I agree there does seem to be a lot of food allergies and intolerances out there which makes you wonder why. The first red flag for me was one chapter where she seemed to use the terms 'virus' and 'bacteria' interchangeably. As she seemed pretty well-versed about the subject, that bothered me. I also think some of her conclusions border ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this 5 stars for the incredible job the author did of researching the history and political information on our food system, and exposing all the backhanded ways that the FDA uses to allow unsafe products in the market. It was very eye-opening to read how much stricter nearly every other country in the world is compared to the US. In fact, major companies like Walmart, McDonald's and Kraft, adhere to much stricter regulations overseas than in our own countries. It hasn't seemed to hu ...more
Colette Martin
I am rating this book a 3 primarily because I support the cause to understand more about our food supply and how it is making us sick.
Despite this message, I found the book tedious, hard to read, repetitive, and not always entirely accurate.

The author relies heavily on this story line:

My child ate something I thought was food. Something bad happened. I thought about it and realized it could be the food. When the dust settled I went to the internet and did some research. I discovered something
Anne Flynn
This is a book that everyone should read. The information is staggering. I agree with many of the review that it can be redundant and heavy on the personal narrative/mommy guilt. However, I feel much more aware of the dangers of preservatives & GMO's after reading it..
I was recently diagnosed with severe food allergies to two different preservatives and the information regarding our large food companies changing their formulas in the EU was eye opening to say the least. Her take on the trem
Sep 06, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book contains a lot of interesting information. I've already changed my diet to primarily organic and I am (for the most part) a vegetarian, but this book confirmed a lot of the thoughts I already had on the food most people are eating every day. What I did not like about this book was how self-indulgent it was. If I heard about how guilty she felt and how her world was torn apart one more time I was going to scream!! I also felt like the author was awfully naive to what goes on bet ...more
Aug 10, 2009 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-non-fiction
Brought up a lot of good questions about our food supply in the US, assuming you can get past the writing style (I wanted more hard information, less personal pats on the back). While there is a lot of interesting/worrisome information about food additives, GM foods, and rBGH, it is not all gloom and doom. The bright side is looking at what the Europeans are currently doing to monitor and remove these negative/unknowns from their food supply. In other words, it can be done, we as a people have a ...more
Ann Olson
Jan 18, 2015 Ann Olson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I overall very much enjoyed this book. It was readable and informative, personal while scientific. Sometimes her takeaway points didn't completely line up with the studies she discussed, or at least I felt like something was missing, but wholeheartedly agree that if we aren't sure about something, we shouldn't be assuming it's safe. The canaries in the mine comparison to using kids with their lower thresholds for toxins greatly troubled me. While I was confused that one of her 4 children having ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating read and I applaud the research Robyn's done about what's in our food. It was a great education for me about GMOs, which I did not previously understand, and about the problems with our food regulation.

While the book seems very honest and her intent true, I noticed one piece of information that's sensationalized - and that made me question how sensationalized the work may be in general. The part that stuck out to me is how she talked about RBGH creating mastitis in cows -
Elizabeth Skydell Davis
I'm absolutely going to be changing the way our family eats after reading this book. The scientific studies the author cites are pretty convincing and everything she says about the food supply fits with what I know from other reliable sources. That said, I wished it were better written - some of it is a little repetitive and the author presents an awful lot of supposition as if it were fact. I was much more interested in the information she found than in what she was feeling as she did her resea ...more
Janet Smith
I learned a lot from this book. I really didn't need to read it carefully- I got all the information I wanted from skimming. I wish she had spent more time on what to do in response (she does at the end, but it's not enough) and less time on all the ties between the government and corporations. Overall it was very informative (especially the soy information, which I hadn't heard before) and interesting, in an alarming way.
Sarah Cofer
What's in our food? You don't want to know. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Ive been reading about food a ton and there are days when I honestly feel nothing is safe.

Childhood food allergies growing exponentially, but no one knows why. Few studies are done. Also seasonal allergies on the rise.

Soy truly is IN the labels. You will see.

She refernces the Southhampton Shocker study. I find it astounding that companies will change products in UK, but not US. Coca Cola removed sodium
Maria Rickert
Jan 19, 2014 Maria Rickert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robyn O'Brien’s book, The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother's Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America's Food Supply-- and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself, is a shocking investigation into the many ways we’ve been tricked into eating not just unhealthy, but downright dangerous, food.

You can sign up here to listen to my interview of her:

I, too, used to trust the FDA and USDA, thinking that if it’s sold in a store, it must be safe. Those were
Mar 08, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I didn't always appreciate the writing style or find some of her healthy suggestions healthy enough to my liking, I think this book is a must read for Americans especially parents. We are far too ignorant than the rest of the world on how dangerous our food supply is. Please read. You'll be glad that you did.
Apr 04, 2014 Kari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I picked up this book because Robyn is an alum of W&L, as am I. I was unable to attend a talk she gave to alums, but it piqued my interest in her book, so I checked it out from my library.
I don't have kids, but I of course know people with kids so the discussion on the rise of allergies among children over the past 20+ years was very interesting, as well as the possible ties to behavioral issues. I tend to eat pretty clean already, but Robyn's descriptions of the hazards of GMOs helped stee
Rachael Marsceau
Feb 15, 2014 Rachael Marsceau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robyn O'Brien is another person to put on my hero list. She saw things she didn't understand or like, and educated herself and got out there and did something about it.

Basically in this book she tackles information on allergies, the history and general info on GMOs, the deceptive romance of the FDA and government agencies, and what we can do to make a difference.

My two favorite things about this book were 1) the fact that she explains everything in plain English, making it understandable for e
Apr 04, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much from this book and am now reading labels more closely.
Ann Knuttila
Interesting information but not an easy read with the way it was written. I also don't enjoy reading about all the research & specific data, so that could have been a factor. I'm curious how much more has happened in the food industry since this book has been written. But a large eye opener with some of the ways a majority of our food is being grown & proceeded. I also enjoyed that it was written by a mother of 4, which I felt relatable in how I choose to feed my boys. I took away enough ...more
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I was raised in Houston, Texas on meat and potatoes with a fair share of Doritos and Ding Dongs thrown in. I was not a foodie.

My background is motherhood and finance. I earned an MBA from Rice University on a full scholarship and graduated as the top woman in my class. I went on to work in the investment world, jockeying with the gang on Wall Street, as an equity analyst where I covered the food i
More about Robyn O'Brien...

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“So don't stop moving forward. For a while, you may feel as though you're taking two steps forward, one step back. And there may be some personal heartache along the way. But when you look your little ones in the eye, you will find your voice and take a stand for them. We are their voices. And we must have the courage to stand up for them, whatever the odds or however powerful the opposition might be.” 3 likes
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