What to Eat Paperback – 17 Apr 2007
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"Meticulously researched, thorough, and indispensable - Marion Nestle's "What to Eat" delivers on its title. It's a reliable, riveting guide to the amazing truth about what we're sold by the American food distribution system. Refreshingly rigorous and fun to read." --Alice Waters, founder and proprietor of Chez Panisse and author of "The Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook."
"The industry wants you to believe there are no good foods or bad
foods. Well, that's not true. And I can't think of anyone who knows the
difference better than Marion Nestle." --Eric Schlosser
When it comes to the increasingly treacherous landscape of the
American supermarket, with its marketing hype and competing health
claims, Marion Nestle is an absolutely indispensable guide:
knowledgeable, eminently sane--and wonderful company, too. --Michael Pollan
"According to nutritionist Nestle, the increasing confusion among the general public about what to eat comes from two sources: experts who fail to create a holistic view by isolating food components and health issues, and a food industry that markets items on the basis of profits alone. She suggests that, often, research findings are deliberately obscure to placate special interests. Nestle says that simple, common-sense guidelines available decades ago still hold true: consume fewer calories, exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables and, for today's consumers, less junk food. The key to eating well, Nestle advises, is to learn to navigate through the aisles (and thousands of items) in large supermarkets. To that end, she gives readers a virtual tour, highlighting the main concerns of each food group, including baby, health and prepared foods, and supplements. Nestle's prose is informative and entertaining; she takes on the role of detective, searching for clues to the puzzle of healthy and satisfying nutrition. Her intelligent and reassuring approach will likely make readers venture more confidently through the jungle of today's super-sized stores."--"Publishers Weekly"""
"Nutritionist Nestle's newest volume aims to help the American consumer determine what best to eat to improve or to maintain good health. Pursuing what she hopes is a unique and beneficial approach, she surveys a supermarket on a food-by-food basis, noting for each category what nutritional benefits are claimed and what really are the advantages and dangers in consuming any grocery offering. She documents how food industry concerns have perverted nutritional and origin labeling, dismayed that economics has once more trumped open information. She assesses the roles of trans-fats in processed food, methylmercury in fish, calcium in dairy products, salmonella in fresh eggs, sugar in cereals, and genetic modification. Nestle is particularly concerned that consumers understand all the implicati
According to nutritionist Nestle, the increasing confusion among the general public about what to eat comes from two sources: experts who fail to create a holistic view by isolating food components and health issues, and a food industry that markets items on the basis of profits alone. She suggests that, often, research findings are deliberately obscure to placate special interests. Nestle says that simple, common-sense guidelines available decades ago still hold true: consume fewer calories, exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables and, for today's consumers, less junk food. The key to eating well, Nestle advises, is to learn to navigate through the aisles (and thousands of items) in large supermarkets. To that end, she gives readers a virtual tour, highlighting the main concerns of each food group, including baby, health and prepared foods, and supplements. Nestle's prose is informative and entertaining; she takes on the role of detective, searching for clues to the puzzle of healthy and satisfying nutrition. Her intelligent and reassuring approach will likely make readers venture more confidently through the jungle of today's super-sized stores. "Publishers Weekly"
Nutritionist Nestle's newest volume aims to help the American consumer determine what best to eat to improve or to maintain good health. Pursuing what she hopes is a unique and beneficial approach, she surveys a supermarket on a food-by-food basis, noting for each category what nutritional benefits are claimed and what really are the advantages and dangers in consuming any grocery offering. She documents how food industry concerns have perverted nutritional and origin labeling, dismayed that economics has once more trumped open information. She assesses the roles of trans-fats in processed food, methylmercury in fish, calcium in dairy products, salmonella in fresh eggs, sugar in cereals, and genetic modification. Nestle is particularly concerned that consumers understand all the implications, good and bad, of the perennially contentious "organic" label. "Booklist"
[This] book is for anyone who has read a food label; been annoyed at how often their children nag them for certain cereals; wondered about the difference between natural and organic; or questioned who is minding the store when it comes to nutrition and food safety. "Marian Burros, The New York Times""
About the Author
Marion Nestle is the most respected nutritionist in America today. Her book "Food Politics "was given the James Beard Award, the top award for food writing; that book and its follow-up, "Safe Food," are backlist classics for the University of California Press. A longtime nutritionist and former head of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, Nestle lectures worldwide and was featured in the movie "Super Size Me." A native New Yorker, she raised her family in California and now lives in Greenwich Village.
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Top Customer Reviews
If aiming for a low-fat, high carb and low-calorie diet makes you feel awful, hungry and ill - as it does for many of us - and has impeded your attempts to maintain a healthy weight, this book has little to offer and there are so many better books out there for you.
This book says low fat or no-fat dairy foods are the best type to get, that adequate protein can easily be gotten from beans, fluoride is safe and good for your teeth and should not be removed from drinking water, soy formulas for infants are completely safe, vegetarian diets are the healthiest, junk food is fine so long as your portions are small and not too high calorie, to lose weight you just need to eat less and move more - all of which I would strongly disagree with based on information and research in lots of far better researched books.
The section on supplements is unspeakably bad and it is very clear the author has done very little research in this area. There is a grain of truth in what she says. I would very much agree that a Centrum multivitamin (or other low quality mutivitamin) is going to do very little good to anyone, but so would every nutritional medicine expert there is! The information given here is beyond skewed and extremely selective, not to mention based on flawed studies which do not at all reflect what nutritional experts are actually recommending.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In my quest to eat better and find the true meaning behind food companies claims of how healthy their products are I found Marion Nestle's book `Food Politics', while it was interesting my eyes started to glaze over (I'm not really fond of politics or boring text-book books). I gained a little knowledge that food companies could not be trusted in what they preach about their products because their sole purpose is to sell their products not for the consumer's health.
Then I found she had a new book coming, `What to Eat'. I already knew that Nestle had years of experience as a nutritionist and was more impartial to a person's health than promoting something. You can pretty much bet she wasn't on a payroll of a food company or work for the government, though she was on a national committee a while back, since she really dressed them down for irresponsibility to the public.
I am surprised and saddened to find that the government who is supposed to watch out for the welfare of their people take contributions in the millions to `look the other way' while corporations are allowed to throw out claims that sugary, over processed, artificially colored and flavored foods are whole grain and healthy for a balanced diet.
This is one of the reasons I read this book. Artificial sweeteners give me headaches but when I looked on the internet about them I read from one end of the pendulum in `it's healthy and good for you' to the other `its cancer forming and bad for you'. Who do you believe? You know a good share of these websites are the producers of the products and their competition.
Nestle goes through the entire store telling you what she's learned in her own quest to find the truth about what we buy, why we buy it, and what it all means to eating better. I liked that it wasn't as dry as `Food Politics', at least for me, it was simple and easy to read and told me what she knew that made it a really interesting.
I also learned that food corporations pay supermarkets for `prime real estate' on shelves, at the front of the store, by the check-outs so that you will see their products and be more apt to buy them, while things that are more healthy for you are in the `bad real estate section' because they don't sell as well.
Nestle's motto is `eat less, move more, and eat lots of fruit and vegetables', it's good advice though it's easier said than done and she admits that it is without a bit of effort because prepared/processed foods are easier to use in our hectic world. Nestle does admit that junk food is okay to eat, she tells of her fondness for Oreos, but they should be eaten on a rare occasion and in moderation, I mean... no one can eat just one... right?
I also think she glosses over the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic produce, eggs and meat, which can be substantial. Explanations are somewhat simplistic and people with prior nutrition and/or science backgrounds will likely be frustrated by overly-simplified claims and explanations and the lack of detailed specific explanations about nutrients and why they are important.
Overall, this book provides a very basic overview of nutrition according to the status quo and gives the impression that nutritionists have it all figured out now, when in fact they don't. Her sources for bold claims are rarely quoted. She refers to studies generally, but not specifically. It's almost as if she drew conclusions by reading only the abstracts of many journal articles without reading the entire article. From personal experience I can tell you that a study may appear to be well -designed and conclusions may appear to be reasonable, but when you look at the specifics of the study, you often find other variables which completely negate the supposed conclusion.
I do, however, think she's on target with regard to the overwhelming power exerted by big food producing companies and their lobbyists. And she does explain some of the environmental and moral issues created by factory farms, fish farming and big agricultural. So I give her credit in this regard.
Personally, I think Nina Planck's "Real Food" provides a much more detailed explanation of various foods, nutrients, and controversial health claims and guides. She covers quite a few (important) topics that Nestle's book doesn't and is impeccable about supporting her assertions with journal citations so you can research the original source. She offers a differing point of view in some regards- a view you likely have not heard and I think her arguments for doing so are compelling. The ONE area where the two authors agree? Eat your veggies!
That said, I'm only giving it 4 stars instead of 5. I find no fault with the book's factual material. However, when Ms. Nestle starts venturing into food criticism (telling the reader what tastes "best"--uh, "best" is a highly subjective term and Ms. Nestle is a nutritionist, not a restaurant reviewer or food critic). She does have a tendency to come across condescendingly or as a know-it-all (which she surely does if the topic is industry manipulation and nutrition). Also (earth to Marion, come in Marion), we don't all live in Manhattan and we may not have access to all-organic, hearth-baked, TRUE artisanal bread. And readers would be better served if she offered suggestions for people who may have to make food choices based on financial considerations (e.g. would it be better to buy organic fruits and vegetables, but forgo the organic pastas and breads if one's budget doesn't allow for both). One gets the sense that she's really writing for the privileged.
Still (and I suppose I am one of the privileged, because I can largely afford many organics, etc.) I would recommend this book to others, even in light of my criticisms of it. This book is solidly packed with good information.
This book is sure to make you think about how and why your local supermarket places things where they do and how you can make educated choices for eating in your family.
While at times a bit too proscriptive in her at times outright "This is what you want to eat if you have the choice," it is helpful to know the kinds of food choices she makes for herself based on what she knows about the nutritional value of different foods, the politics and science behind the ways food is regulated and evaluated ("nutritional quality" and claims made by food manufacturers), and the different options available for the same kinds of foods (white bread, "whole wheat" bread, and true whole grain-high fiber breads--indeed, what are the differences between them and how do they matter to your health/diet?).
Ms. Nestle's book is organized according to the general layout of most markets (there is a reason why your market is spatially organized as it is, do you know what that reason is--and how it profoundly affects your shopping experience?). The section and chapters headings are helpful in knowing what you will learn about food.
The Produce Section
Fruits and vegetables; what organic means and doesn't; safety; genetically modified, irradiated, and politicized.
The Dairy Section
Milk; dairy foods; yogurt as food or desssert
Margarine; soy milk, panacea or just another food
The Meat Section
Issues around meat manufacturing; questions of safety; organic versus "natural" (Did you even notice that more and more manufacturers are putting the claim of "natural" on their products, hoping that you'll think that's the same as organic? It's not! Learn the distnctions and how they can impact your diet.)
The Fish Counter
The dilemmas and quandaries about fish "production"; methylmercury contamination; the problems with fish-farming; fish-labeling; more seafood dilemmas with safety and sustainability (A very important chapter, as more of us contemplate eating fish for its health benefits.)
The Center Aisles: Cool and Frozen
Eggs: the truth beyond the hype; the Salmonella problem; frozen foods and what they're made out of; calories and diets; understanding the nutrition facts of frozen foods
The Center Aisles: Processed
Wheat flour and the glycemic index; sugar(s); cereals; packaged foods and their endorsements from well-known entities; snack foods; foods just for kids (really just a myth); oils
The Beverage Aisles
Water; "healthy" drinks, sugared and artifically sweetened; teas and coffees, what the eco-labels mean
The Special Sections
Infant formula and baby food; supplements and health food; bread; prepared foods
And you don't have to read the entire book or in order! While it's easy enough to read at 524 pages, you can also pick any section or chapter in the book and just read that.
I have noticed a few drawbacks to What To Eat that include a complete lack of consideration for people who don't have the income necessary to buy truly wholesome, eco-friendly, high-quality food or have places nearby where they can buy these very items. Her considerations assume that you have enough money (and access) to buy organic produce, for example. Her nutritional advice also covers the diet needs of people who aren't recreational or professional athletes; I am a long-distance runner, so my diet needs necessitate (at least from my experience with my own performance) Gatorade, a higher level of protein, and certain supplements that seem to enhance my running before, during, and afterwards--all things that she recommends people not do or consider. Of course, if you're seriously into your sport, you should already have a solid understanding of diet and nutrition, so you'll be able to modify accordingly Ms. Nestle's recommendations, still improve how and what you eat, and continue to perform at a high level in your chosen sport(s).
Otherwise, this is a fantastic book and should help you make certain diet and nutrition changes easily and with a greater sense of understanding about why you're making these changes. As I read this book, I found myself adding fish oil supplements to my diet because of what I learned about the importance of certain oils to my overall health. I also made a significant change in the type of yogurt I now buy and eat, in order to dramatically cut the unnecessary sugars in my diet from 24 grams per serving to less than 10 grams; not only did I reduce the sugar, I found out that I actually PREFER less sweetened yogurt, because I like the natural tanginess. I now avoid "natural" and look for organic; and I know what the organic seal means. I know what kind of eggs to buy and what the differences mean to the chickens and to myself. I've decided to stop buying bottled water, as the water out of my tap is, thankfully, good enough for me; as a result, I've also opted out of the whole process used to manufacture the plastic containers that are used to hold and sell water and "water products" (vitamin-fortified water, etc.).
The choices you decide to make will, of course, be different. But I guarantee you that if you read this book, you'll find yourself making certain changes to what you eat and the reasons why based on the information, comparisons, and recommendations provided by Ms. Nestle. Ms. Nestle has written an easily to read, comprehensive, and helpful book that will in turn help you become a better consumer of food.