Sarah's Reviews > What to Eat

What to Eat by Marion Nestle
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Feb 12, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction, foodgloriousfood
Recommended to Sarah by: Lynne Baer
Recommended for: the educated but occasionally baffled grocery shopper
Read in February, 2008

A down-to-earth, excellently researched look at your local supermarket, aisle by aisle, without any of the preaching you've come to expect from nutritionists. Sure, Nestle's got opinions, but they're the opinions of your grandmother who lives in New York and who wants you to eat, to enjoy what's on your plate to to give everything a taste before you turn up your nose.

And like your sensible grandmother, Nestle's concludes that real, minimally processed foods are better for you than most of what's out there. She disdains marketing tricks and corporate bullying of the USDA; she doesn't care for anything that pretends to be healthy when it's really just a dessert in disguise (see her take on the super-sweet yogurts heavily marketed towards dieters and children). Nestle would much rather see you put a dollop of butter on your food than hem and haw on which faker-than-fake low-no-less-than-before option awaits you in the dairy isle this week.

Though a nutritionist by training Nestle has the soul of an investigative journalist, using her scientific background to read through the conflicting (and often corporately-funded) research that's out there. When she comes to the conclusion that the organic vegetables in the freezer section are better tasting (and better for you) than the so-called "fresh" conventional veggies in the produce section, it's only after she's taken you through her analysis of the literature. Nor is she shy about busting the prolific and questionable health claims on food packaging: there is, for example, no reason to claim your vegetable oil is cholesterol free (of course it is: all vegetable products are cholesterol free) or the chickens who laid your eggs weren't treated with hormones (no chickens are treated with hormones -- cattle may be, but not chickens).

Though a good deal of this information may not be new to a reader who's attentive to food and nutrition, this is still an excellent resource for deciphering the gray areas and learning more about the USDA and FDA's role (or lack thereof) in determining what makes it to the supermarket shelves and what claims can be emblazoned across the packaging.
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