Walking into the food section of any bookstore is a culinary adventure that stokes one's tongue for delectable delights that may in time manifest in your own kitchen. But there is one book about food that changed my life forever. Before I tell you what it is, however, I should note that it contains not a single recipe, not a single delicious concoction, if you can believe that! Cook books are indeed porn for avid chefs such as myself, but I can't say that any of them affected my life with the velocity that this one did. I count myself lucky and am thrilled to pass it along to you.
If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend that you purchase John Robbin's "Food Revolution!" Bar none, it instantly became my holy grail for how I think about my kitchen, my health, the industrial food supply and beyond, as it has now for the countless people I have given Food Revolution to as a gift.
The premise of Food Revolution is simple: Robbins set out to compare the propaganda from the food industry against the real research coming out of the scientific community. Over the years, Robbins noticed that the billboards, advertisements, and overall talking points released by the major industrial food companies and their CEO's stood in stark contrast to the actual research about food and health that was being generated by scientists. Specifically, he takes issue with the false notions from the food industry that we must eat meat and dairy for a healthy existence. This point can shake us to the core because it goes against everything we have been taught to believe since we were television-watching youngsters. Robbins then goes further to eviscerate the untrue myths about vegan kids and backs it up with hard scientific data and studies which demonstrate that such children are as healthy if not healthier than their meat-and-dairy-eating counterparts.
By far the most explosive section of the book is his investigation of the dairy industry. "Got Milk?" We all know this phrase as the dairy companies have pooled billions of dollars together to make sure we ask this question daily. They hire super stars to get photographed with milk moustaches in the hopes of continuing the sham that milk makes our bones strong, right? Wrong. I had no idea.
His grenades lobbed at the meat industry are no gentler. Robbins exquisitely exposes the countless methods of media-based manipulation to get Americans to buy more and more meat. But the science clearly shows that increased meat consumption is clogging our arteries and making it no surprise that heart failure is the number one cause of death in America.
You don't have to be vegan or vegetarian, however, to appreciate Robbins' quest. As the son and former heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire, he walked away from millions of dollars as he began to see how many people were in fact dying from over consumption of meat and dairy. Since then, Robbins has formed a non-profit and writes extensively about the role of foods, especially green vegetables, in raising our quality of life, reducing disease, and potentially improving our economy by shifting us away from corporate factory farming and back to an era where we knew our farmers and could trust their food offerings.
Inspirational barely describes Robbins and "Food Revolution." It is with the highest regard that I recommend it be added to anyone's reading list. The worst that happens is that you disagree completely, think that big industrial companies are more honest than trained scientists, and go about your daily life eating exactly as you had. But I might venture that taking the ride through Food Revolution might in fact at least crack the door open and inspire even the smallest changes in your beliefs about food. It did for me.
One last thing. Don't worry about making wholesale changes in your consumption patterns. Start with one small change at a time. Soon enough, you will look back and chuckle to see how far you've shifted from your old self. Once your eyes are open to the truths about the ills of the industrial food supply, there is no going back. Your family will thank you for it. Your heart with thank you for it. And I thank you for it.
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-Alok Appadurai is Founder of Fed By Threads and writes about food, health, the environment, the US economy and more. You can email him directly at ALOK@FedByThreads.com
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