on 22 May 2001
This book is an absolute must for anybody who is confused by the plethora of diametrically opposed nutritional 'advice' that permeates our health-conscious society. Although it describes itself as a 'cookbook' there is actually a tremendous amount of material that points out how far removed we actually are from sound nutrition, in spite of what various 'Diet Dictocrats' would have us believe. Among the many pearls of wisdom that the author points out is the fact that animal fat - yes, that substance that we have been taught to revile - is actually necessary for good health, and that this fat has been sought after for centuries by primitive peoples free of degenerative diseases. Every one of her claims, many of which contradict 'conventional' nutrition dogma, is backed up by reputable scientific evidence, and the fallacies of conventional dogma are exposed for the lay reader.
The recipes are pretty fantastic, as well, although be warned! This is a book for those who are serious about improving their health. Good, health building food does not keep for 3 years in a cardboard box on the supermarket shelf, it can't be microwaved in 5 minutes, and it can't be replaced by a synthetic compound in a pill.....
This book will serve me as a lifetime companion. For anybody interested in sound nutrition, but confused by current information will find this book a most worthy addition to their library. Hopefully, the issues set forth in this book will encourage a grass-roots demand for real food.
To personalise your diet even more, I highly recommend 'The Metabolic Typing Diet' by William L. Wolcott and Trish Fahey. This book goes into more detail on customising your diet to meet your personal metabolic needs, whilst adhering to the principles of whole foods and sound preparation methods.
on 6 March 1998
If my grandmother had written a cookbook, it would have been a lot like this. This book is about eating the kinds of real food that has nourished folks all over the world for centuries, combined with wonderful excerpts from a variety of doctors, nutritionists and other observers. The authors present an excellent introduction to the study of food and health. largely based on the work of Weston Price, a dentist who traveled the world 60 years ago studying what people traditionally ate. Dr. Price observed that those people who ate their traditional foods had good health and those that ate more of a "modern" diet, were exhibiting the signs of degenerative disease. The authors of this book then use that information and present wonderful recipes (try, especially, their stock recipes, the flavors they add are great). As one of the other reviewers mentioned, the wisdon and recipes in this book often contradict the current "wisdom" of observing a low-fat, high carb diet. But the current dietary wisdom is always changing, this year it's low-fat, high carb, next year something else will be the rage. End the confusion and do yourself a favor by returning to traditional food. This book will help you do just that.
on 10 August 2008
Having closely followed a similar diet for the past 10 years, and aged 77, I can confirm this book's dietary benefits and how it can restore health and the feel-good factor to one's life. Bruce Fife's book, 'Saturated Fat May Save Your Life' is complimentary to it. Anyone who fails to recognise the benefits of the recommendations in this book is speaking from ignorance. To anyone interested in long-term health benefits then it is a 'must read'! (Read too Dr Mary Enig's interesting article, 'The Oiling of America' which is on the Internet). At my advanced stage to life I am in excellent health without aches or pains, and can run as fast as my Norfolk terriers, still retain a healthy libido, and continue to believe that I have a future; does anyone require more reassurance? It is carbohydrates, especially of the grain variety that furrs arteries, and it is polyunsaturated fats, especially vegetable oils, that are potent immune suppressors, and the rest is propaganda!
Now where is my delicious streaky-bacon, fresh genuine free-ranging hen's eggs, and fried in dripping?
on 1 February 2016
First of all, the glowing reviews of this book prompted me to do a bit of research on its authors - Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, as well as on the Weston A Price foundation they founded in 1999. Basically, Mr. Price was an early 20th century dentist who believed that "traditional" people's diets were superior to ours in many ways. So the book concentrates on promoting animal fats and fermented foods in addition to vegetables/fruits and some grains. It actually is not a breakthrough view and certainly not particularly different from the mainstream diet view nowadays except in its heavy reliance on animal products and especially animal fats rather than plant oils. Otherwise, you'll find the usual praise of organic/"biodynamic"/”raw” foods, fermented foods (sprouting!) and drinks (kombucha) and condemnation of sugar and processed foods. However, it is an American book and geared to American readers. The US has been heavily pounded by the low-fat/low-cholesterol/food pyramid message in the last 20-30 years, so for many American readers the messages in the book might seem more radical than for many European readers. And of course, it needs a “I’m different” message to sell copies, so I’m fine with that.
Anyway, the good and the bad:
- Mmmm..fermentation. I do like fermented foods and have used them since childhood (yogurt, kefir, kvass, kombucha, sourdough, “boza” (fermented millet drink), etc. Not sure about their health benefits but they taste good and probably do some good.
- Less processed/sugar foods. Agree with the rejection of processed foods – things like margarine or the adding of vitamins to basic foods like flour (the Americans are really horrible with this) and partially with the anti-sugar theory (no, I’ll never like carob cookies or give up chocolate or coffee, for that matter).
- Helpful recipes. There are a lot of recipes – most of them probably ok and easy to understand. For people unfamiliar with fermentation the relevant section would probably be an excellent introduction.
- Explanations. There is an overview of foods and food groups and explanations as to which ones are (not) recommended and why. For someone who feels patronised by the “nutrition establishment” this would probably be very attractive (although not entirely devoid of patronizing, unfortunately). I found the “fats” section fascinating although I’m not quite convinced.
- Trend bashing. If you’re skeptical about the macrobiotic diet, the advice to eat proteins and carbs separately and other questionable trends, then there are some good arguments against them. Despite the authors’ strong opinions they’ve moderated some of them to adapt to modern life, lack of time for cooking, etc., which I appreciate.
- Religious zeal. The tone of the book is often proselytising and in that way similar to the “politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats” it has set itself against. Sally Fallon seems to be a Christian (“prayer as a method for conquering sugar cravings,” anyone?) and considers it best that women stay at home to cook for their family, only coming out into the world in middle age at which time their husbands are supposed to cook for them (!?). People who are looking for the chance to be converted to Ms. Fallon’s religion and go back to the “good old times” in more ways than one would probably find this reasonable. I’m not one of them though.
- Unbalanced perspective. The authors relish Mr. Price’s vision of the “noble savage” (for which he has been criticised since) and the idea – probably mistaken – that traditional people were/are healthier than we are. Sure, you wouldn’t have time to die of cancer if you’re malnourished or die in childbirth or are killed by a neighbouring tribe. None of this sounds quite right to me. In addition, the authors obviously quote other like-minded authors, so don’t expect a balanced perspective on raw milk or canola oil. Lots of scare-mongering in the book such as threats of carcinogenic substances lurking in vegetables (their advice is to wash them in bleach!) or wheat depleting you of vital powers unless you soak it for three days and that sort of thing. Forget about microwaves since no one has proved their safety. Don’t go anywhere near fluoride. Feed your newborn homemade meat-based formula (aghast at that one). Forget about soymilk unless you want the phytates in it to suck you dry (ok, I don’t like soymilk so I’m fine with that one). So I’m not 100% convinced in her sources at best. Some of this could be dangerous, at worst.
- Questionable/outdated advice. Advice regarding cholesterol is frankly confusing and possibly wrong. The authors spend pages and pages on trying to convince us that having high cholesterol in the blood is not correlated with heart disease and is just a feature of a healthy person. Fair enough. Then they highlight the magical cholesterol lowering abilities of foods such as barley and carrots. So why would I need my cholesterol lowered then? The discussion of acidity/alkalinity of certain foods and in the body is also confusing – the authors touch on “acid” and “alkaline” foods and how the “dictocrats” are wrong about whatever they’re currently preaching on the subject but offer no further advice. Don’t get me started on the vitamins and statements such as “Dr. Price discovered that the diets of healthy isolated peoples contained at least ten times more vitamin A from animal sources than found in the American diet of his day. The high vitamin A content of their diets insured them excellent bone structure, wide handsome faces with plenty of room for the teeth (you can see the dentist here!) and ample protection from stress of all types.” Is this for real?
- Personal preferences do not equal facts. Some of the authors’ personal preferences are states as facts such as “use Italian olive oil for best taste” or “old-style, sourdough, slow-rise breads are too dense and hard for sandwich lovers.” Gets annoying after awhile.
- Recipe mess. Since the recipes underpin the authors' ideology and are aimed towards a mono-cultural (struggling to find the right word here) audience, they're not particularly useful to me. Worse, there is more confusion and wrong information in the various recipes sections. Although we are meant to fill up on enzymes, the recipe for miso soup advises simmering the miso with the vegetables until the latter are soft. Actually, boiling miso is the surest way of destroying its enzymes. In addition, I understand that the authors are relishing the opportunity to acquaint the reader with ancient health secrets of exotic cuisines (yes, I’m a little acerbic here). However, they seem to try too hard sometimes, bringing us recipes such as a “Russian shrimp soup (Chlodnik)” – which is Russian neither in the inclusion of shrimp nor in the name – Chlodnik is a Polish name for the cold borscht type of soup popular in north eastern Europe. Some people from Asia might object to the old-fashioned usage of the word “Oriental.” Things like that.
Anyway, I’m struggling to give this book more than 2 stars. I do like some of it but I disagree with the authors in many areas and think some of their advice is wrong and dangerous. Although the barrage of quotes and the discussion of various research seem (vaguely) scientific, I can’t help feeling like I’m listening to the local preacher. Perhaps I just don’t like the idea of having jellied feet for dinner or feeding my baby raw liver while being threatened with painful death if I open the microwave door. Oh well.
on 26 March 1998
Sally Fallon's book is large in size and in its implications, valiantly sweeping away all the fog and ignorance that is endemic in the field of nutrition today. The book, focussing as it does on traditional (pre-modern) food selection and preparation, is revolutionary in all its common sense, prompting the reader to nod and say, "Yes, that's really true." It seems increasingly baffling to me that, amidst the daily deluge of ideas criss-crossing the landscape of the nutrition frontier, very few people acknowledge the contribution of 50,000 years of human history in the creation and maintenance of health. Well, Sally Fallon does. This book takes the reader to the highest ground yet. I particularly appreciated the excerpts from other books and journals, which are included liberally in sidebars throughout the book. It is a lot like reading several books in one, such is the cumulative scope of Nourishing Traditions. Of course, the recipes, all 700 of them, are fabulous. The book also has an excellent resource section to aid the reader in applying the principles laid out in the text. Finally, one comment on the book's subtitle, "The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats": This book does not tip-toe around the issues. The introduction, besides revealing many frightening (and rarely realized) facts about the state of current nutrition, also issues a call to action for people to release themselves from the collective trance perpetuated through advertising, through the common rationale that "we eat pretty well already," and even through many of the currently popular trends today, including veganism. Prepare to be educated. Prepare to do some weeding. This is a big, bright, shout-from-the-rooftops cookbook that should be required reading for anyone who has the slightest doubt about what they eat. And for those, more likely, who have no doubts.
on 26 December 2005
The truth is that all the other reviews are true and accurate; and they still do not cover all the good points about this book - what type of person bothers to write a review about book they have bought on line(?) not me!
I have bought about 50 books in the past year and not felt compelled to review any of them although most were good. However, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig's Nourishing Traditions appeals and finds favour with my instincts it aligns and blends all those random tips, best practises, common sense ideas, and what I call my primaeval memory or instincts into one account without affectation, favour or prejudice.
And yes I bought both of my Sons and their wives the book as well, and no I am not a 'Fallon and Enig' marketing & PR agency they don't need one but they deserve all the help and support to write further material which is of optimal value and non - exploitative of the reader - I have other books on nutrition, cooking, sprouting, fermentation et al but I can't believe myself when each time I subconsciously reach for NT just to see whether it agrees or has some better recommendations on those subjects.
It contains recipes from the basic to the exotic if required, it contains vital information on nutrition and this dictates its approach ie "the nutritional value of foods" what is best and what our bodies need, with information and explanations on associated subjects - but beware, self discipline is required when you pick up the book - use an egg timer or you will easily wile away an enjoyable hour of so!
I must have saved the cost of the book several times over by following the advice and I have reduced my rubbish/garbage by about 75% by buying 'healthier' foods.
on 6 December 2013
I can't recommend this book enough! It's not just recipes, though of course 100 s are included. There is so much research and clear, well written chapters about what our modern, supposedly healthy diet has done to us and the disease resulting from this, and it just makes so much sense. The references are all there, and there are loads,- and Sally Fallon explains very clearly why cod liver oil, lacto fermented food, butter, raw milk and cheese from pasture fed cows, organic free range eggs, fresh,pesticide free vegetables etc etc are nourishing and full of essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes mankind has eaten in some form or other for million+ years in every culture and which has kept them healthy. She explains how modern marketing and share holder profits drive the huge food manufacturing interests and not the Consumers' health and well being . She uses many examples from both scientific research and anecdotal to illustrate exactly what is causing so many modern, life crippling diseases like cancer, heart problems, Alzheimer's and how we can help ourselves and our families to avoid them, and to a healthier way of living. It took me several months to decide to buy this book, but I have now given it as presents to friends , and even my sceptical husband is convinced of its truths! One of the most interesting, fascination and educational 'cook books' I have ever bought, and I have over 100. I was very happy to discover Sally Fallon is part of a world organisation called Wise Traditions that has yearly events in London and hopefully is a vital part of the much needed revolution we need to bring "nourishment as live giving " to the forefront of our culture. Brilliant!
July 2015- it's now a year since I started using this. Book and although I still think it's good, I would advise people to go cautiously as the amount of animal produce and fat does not suit everyone. I have suffered quite badly with my liver and gall bladder as a result of so much butter, cheese and fatty meat and have had to revise my thinking. Although I agree with much of her philosophy, a one. Size fits all approach doesn't work. The amount of coconut oil recommended daily was also way above what my body wanted or needed and I have cut that to I tablespoon a day which seems to work. I now have a small amount of meat if fish at lunch time and mainly pulses, fresh veg and broth as a light evening meal. My liver was so unhappy I ended up with black rings round my eyes like a panda! So moderation is a good way to proceed, in my experience.
on 14 July 2002
I obtained a copy of this book through the local library and upon reading it placed an order with Amazon so that I could have a ready copy for reference purposes. It's a fascinating read and a very enlightening one too, and has, indeed, changed my methods of cooking and to the benefit of my health, aswell as my appetite. I've started on the soups, sprouting, and freshly grown raw foods and the benefits are showing in some rather interesting ways; for example, I've had a skin infection for a number of years which was resistant to medical treatment, but, within 2 weeks on this improved diet, it's gone, and that's not the only benefit. It must surely be boosting my immunity. It's truly an enjoyment cooking a meal in the traditional way and the smells are delicious!.
on 20 September 1998
The fact that our ancestors only ever ate grain that was either fermented or sprouted was enough of a revelation to me to make it the sole reason I am glad I bought this book. I've subsequently experimented with fermenting my morning muesli and it IS GREAT ... truly ... not fizzy or weird tasting, not what you'd think at all. The idea behind this fermenting ... grains are very hard to digest and starting the digestive break-down process ahead of time by fermenting the grain allows your body's digestive powers to make full nutritional use of the grain ( well ... once you eventually do convince yourself to take the first mouthful that is!). This book presents many opposite opinions from currently held dietary advice with some very convincing evidence to back it up.
As a sobering 'other side to the dietary argument' with the addition of having great recipes from around the world and loads of related little bits of information alongside the recipes, I think this is a great buy and a great gift for a friend.
on 17 August 2001
Fallon presents a masterpiece of intelligent and coherent research. It's a relief to read - absorbing, thought-provoking and well-structured. Fallon's layout and exerpts from other authors ensure captivation, and the recipes are good. It will inspire you, and here's the DANGER - you may become evangelical.
I've come back to buy another four copies for my friends. This is, indeed, a five-star read.