This was not a quick easy read. At times I felt like I was pushing myself as if I had an exam coming up or a paper to write. But I wanted to read it and get the big picture. This won’t be a detailed review, but here are a few pearls I am taking from it. You’ll see why there’s an apple in my photo…
First, a quick but necessary summary: As anyone who knows of Dr. Campbell, The China Study, Forks Over Knives, etc. will recall, he advocates a whole-food plant-based diet (no animal products) without added oils/fats that don’t occur naturally in a whole plant food. One of the main points of his book is that the whole food is better than the “reductionist” view of researching and supplementing certain nutrients and adding them to foods, which by default will be a processed food.
One example he alludes to is, don’t eat globs of ketchup for the lycopene, eat fresh tomatoes for all the nutrients the whole food provides. We don’t even have a grasp of everything that is potentially in our plant foods, he purports, but they will lead us to much better health than animal foods and processed stuff. We are missing the forest for the trees by focusing on research and foods with endless combinations of single nutrients/vitamins, etc. instead of what has already been shown to bring better health (refer to The China Study for his evidence).
Yep, I agree with him pretty much. He’s brilliant, he fights the “system” and the greed of U. S. corporations, government policy makers, and influencers. I think the book reads as the book of an older man who wants to make his point STRONGLY, because folks, he’s just about 80 years old.
Here’s what struck me:
His example of a colleague, Professor Liu and his team…they found that 100 g of fresh apple had an antioxidant, vitamin C-like activity equivalent to 1, 500 milligrams of Vitamin C. But when they analyzed the 100 g of whole apple, there were only 5.7 milligrams of vitamin C….The vitamin C-like activity from 100 grams of whole apple was an astounding 263 times more potent as the same amount of the isolated chemical … (p. 152-153). (Obviously, in the context of why the whole food is better than worrying about the individual nutrients. Dr. Campbell is not into supplements).
“the livestock population of the US consumes five times as much grain as the country’s entire human population” !! (p. 166). (In context of why our current food patterns are terrible for the earth). O.k., as a citizen in a country with plenty of food insecurity, this just makes me mad. Some statistics just make my jaw drop, and this is one of them.
Here’s an interview I found online with Dr. Campbell that summarizes some other concepts of the book, that are just as important.
Here’s another interview with the New York Times in 2011 that summarized his concepts also.
Although I am somewhat skeptical about ever buying into anything 100%, I do recommend reading something by Dr. Campbell. His life’s work is about something real, and we (I don’t mean this judgmentally, I am referring to society as a whole) need to thoughtfully consider it.