Book Corner 2021.9

by Mark Bittman & David L. Katz MD

This really inspired me to be more vegetable-forward.

Written in the form of Q&A, where the Q comes from a rhetorical person asking leading questions (like, “Huh?”), and the A from co-authors Mark Bittman, of cookbook fame, and David Katz MD. But they all read like they come from the MD.

The theme is sensible advice about what to eat. Sometimes it got too bogged down in nutritional science for me. And my big quibble… there’s always a big quibble, here it comes:

They make the mistake of lionizing ‘traditional’ ways of eating without addressing the whole grains issue. Traditionally speaking, for as long as humanity has been raising grain crops, we’ve been trying to come up with ways to get the yucky outer hulls off, in order to make flour with just the beautiful creamy white middle of the grain. In Asia they’ve been polishing their rice for hundreds, thousands of years? And I’ve been to Italy three times, to three different regions. I never once saw whole wheat pasta. I can imagine what the natives would say to that (namely, “Fa schifo!” – disgusting).

So yes, encourage consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Just don’t call it Mediterranean and don’t worship the ‘traditional’. The authors are constantly reminding us, after all, that we evolved to like calorie-dense foods; and they give the obvious reasons why (a few too many times). I wish the rhetorical questioner would have asked why we evolved to prefer refined grains, because we obviously did.

And what about tofu, after all? They say there “seems” to be something good about it, and call it “minimally processed.” Seems like a highly processed foodstuff to me. Tofu has such a reputation for being good and healthy, and I have no reason to think it’s not; but it seems to be a big fat exception to the rule of not eating “processed” foods.

Still and all it WAS an inspiring book. I really hope to start eating meals that are more plant-focused, and yes, more whole-grain-focused as well. I am glad to hear them encourage the eating of ‘carbs’ (albeit whole grain ones). Starches have indeed been the Staff of Life since agriculture began! (  )

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