“Real Food – What to Eat and Why” by Nina Planck – Book Review

“Real Food – What to Eat and Why” by Nina Planck – Book Review

Old MacDonald had a farm, but was it an organic farm? Were his chickens “free-range” or “cage-raised”? Was the milk raw or pasteurized, and as children singing the familiar tune did we even know these options existed? In today’s world, we are inundated with food choices and terminology that can be bewildering. Some of the decisions  russian store  we make on a daily basis are whether to eat meat or be vegetarians, consume dairy products or be “lactose-free”, enjoy sweets or be anti-sugar. E-I-E-I-O! What’s a girl to eat?

One author is saying we should simply eat as our grandmothers cooked, and let that be our guideline for a healthy lifestyle. In her book, “Real Food: What to Eat and Why”, Nina Planck recommends eating traditional foods such as cream, butter, beef, lard and eggs. She states that these long-established foods are not the reasons for food related diseases so prevalent in society today. Rather, she blames the modern American industrialized food diet for the “epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease”.

Planck, currently touring the country to promote her book, is the daughter of Virginia farmers, and is neither a medical expert nor a food scientist. At an August 17 lecture in Poulsbo Washington, Planck described herself as a person who reads and interprets every scientific study on food, dietary requirements and diet related disease. She cites this research and her personal experience as the basis for her “real food” diet. Now in her mid-30’s, she experimented with vegetarianism and veganism in her early 20’s, eliminating meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs and chocolate from her daily diet. Planck states that during this period, she was overweight, depressed and on medication and that it was only when she returned to the traditional diet on which she was raised that she regained her health.

Planck began her research by comparing the traditional diet of Russian sheep herders and North American Inuit to the modern American diet, and found that while Americans consumed fewer daily calories and ate a higher percentage of calories from plant sources, they had higher body mass indexes and cholesterol levels than reported by the Russians and the Inuit. In comparing the diets, Planck concludes that the traditional diet is rich in vitamins and fats that prevent heart disease, while trans-fats, corn oil, and sugar prevalent in the modern American diet cause diet-related illnesses.

Subsequent chapters delve into specific food categories, where Planck compares each “traditional” food to the “industrial” food. In her chapter entitled “Real Milk, Butter and Cheese”, for example, we learn that traditional raw milk came from pasture cows fed with grass and hay, while industrial pasteurized milk comes from captive cows fed with soybeans, corn, and synthetic hormones to increase milk production. In each chapter she describes the superior taste and health benefits of the traditional food as compared to the industrialized food.

While “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” presents another alternative to the already vast number of dietary choices we have to process, the reader who agrees with Nina Planck’s philosophy will give him or herself permission to eat the delicious, memorable foods of our parents and grandparents. If Old MacDonald had a farm, one thing is for certain. On this farm they ate Real Food.

Joan Tobin is owner of Eat Local Food LLC, a marketing and promotional merchandise firm that specializes in local, organic, and natural food promotions for food retailers, farmers markets and restaurants. At Eat Local Food, “It’s art, it’s advertising, it’s a values statement all in one colorful image”.

Today I want to begin a series of tips on super foods. Decades ago it wasn’t necessary for you to know about super foods because your normal diet provided you with the nutrients you needed to be healthy. However, with the depletion of soil, the addition of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and other items to our food along with pollution, it is difficult to get the nutrition from our daily diet that is needed for LONG term health.

Our super food today has to do with the honey bee. There are three different foods supplied to us by the honey bee besides honey. These are propolis, bee pollen and royal jelly.

Bee products have been used for thousands of years. There is evidence that the Egyptians wrote about them back in 5500 B.C. The Indians used them for their religious ceremonies and the Babylonians used them in their medicinal practices. The western world became interested in bee products due to information about the longevity of Russian Beekeepers who ate honey rich in bee pollen daily. It was very common for these beekeepers to live over the age of 100.

Each of the different foods provided by the honey bee has its own set of benefits. Before I discuss these benefits I do have to caution you that bee products may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Discontinue using them if this occurs.

The queen bee lives on Royal Jelly exclusively and she lives 40 times longer than the rest of the bees. Royal Jelly contains a powerhouse of nutrients. In fact, it contains EVERY nutrient necessary to support life. It is the richest source of Vitamin B5. This has been shown to combat stress, fatigue and insomnia and is a vital nutrient for healthy skin and hair. Along with Vitamin B5, Royal Jelly also includes the remaining B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, E and K, more than a dozen key minerals, and 18 amino acids.

Bee pollen is the flower pollen that bees collect for food. It is said to have dozens of benefits. A few of them are enhancing your immune system, increasing your metabolism, assisting with weight loss and lessening the effects of chemotherapy.

This nutritional substance has been used for hundreds of years and the health benefits can be traced back to the Romans, Egyptians, Chinese and Russians.

Bees use honey as their day to day food and royal jelly as a special food reserved for the queen and baby bees but they use propolis as their medicine. Propolis is the glue that holds the hives together. Honey bees coat the walls of the hives with propolis which makes the hives one of the cleanest places in nature. Propolis has antibiotic properties that can help protect humans from bacteria and strengthen the immune system. Propolis is used for inflammation, viral diseases, ulcers, and superficial burns or scalds by natural medical practitioners. Propolis can also increase fertility, help with bowel problems, protect your liver and improve the effectiveness of antibiotics. It is also being researched as a potential cancer treatment drug.

And of course we cannot forget honey. Honey is the sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers and most of us are very familiar with honey’s sweetness. Besides the great taste of honey there are many other benefits. Honey offers antiseptic, antioxidant and cleansing properties for our bodies. Honey has powerful healing properties and has been used for centuries to promote healing for cuts and cure ailments and diseases.

Not all the benefits of bee products have been researched but it is nice to know that something that tastes good can possibly also be good for us.

Jean Sumner has pursued an interest in wellness her entire life. An avid runner, she is passionate about exercise, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Jean was diagnosed with cancer in May, 2009 this only served to fuel the flames of her passions and encouraged her to learn more about wellness. This diagnosis actually led to the beginning of World Wellness Education with a mission of “Teaching the world about wellness – one story at a time.”

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