The Definitive PP Bookshelf Thread
Good comment. I too have read research on nutrition (not as much as you, for sure, but I used to work at a NatLab doing physics and even in hard science GIGO usually makes it easier to redo the dang experiment than figure out what errors the last guys made. Bottom line: nutrition research is very, very bad because it’s on humans and impossible to control and there are TONS of other factors, including genetic differences and outliers.
So I fully agree “research into dietary habits is notoriously difficult to perform“. I agree so much, in fact, I don’t find any of the papers available convincing on this subject. It’s terribly weak research, giving us clues from meta-analysis, yes, but nothing definitive. Which makes “more” papers not helpful. Which leaves us back to where we started.
What everyone (who is sane & unbiased) should agree on?
1) There has never been a thriving human culture with some history that ate plants only.
2) Humans cannot survive (let alone thrive) on plants alone unless very, very clever about what they eat.
3) Humans evolved in modern form (big brains/small stomach) by eating meat (via chimps).
4) Human teeth and digestive track clearly show we have evolved to eat meat.
From this alone, Occam’s Razor gets us the right answer. I have no personal agenda, I just follow the data.
Let me close with a question: you find Sisson & company cherry-picks data? I’m not challenging you (I don’t know them well enough) but I would like to know your basis, since those books are claimed by this site as being worth reading so it’s worth warning folk. And one more: Have you read Price, and what do you think of his data?
This book was recommended to me by a permaculture expert who I was lucky enough to become acquainted with. The author, Ben Falk, started his homestead around seven years ago, on 10 acres of worn out land on a Vermont hillside. He has turned it into a lush food forest.
The greatness of this book is in its organization. Mr. Falk begins with general concepts and goals of regenerative farming and permaculture. He then goes into all major topics around permaculture, in the order that you want to address them. For each topic, he gives an overview and refers you to more exhaustive information. He then discusses how he applied these ideas to his farm. He gives valuable insights into what did and didn’t work for him. He is quick to say that a number of things that he read, did not work out for him. He also guesses at reasons why. He is encouraging in experimenting and with gaining confidence with knowing your own land. Every homestead is different.
The book could be considered a textbook on the subject of permaculture and resiliency, complete with test assessments at the end of the book. The book can also be considered extremely practical because of his application of the concepts to his own farm. There are lots of color pictures and diagrams. After reading it, I find myself referring back to it often.
Since reading this book, I have installed a pond and swales (on contour). I have cut down a number of trees (pines) for garden sunlight, and used the wood to build 200 feet of heugelkultur mounds along my driveway. I have one acre in Raleigh, NC and am thrilled to see my budding food forest. Favorite quote in the book:
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now. (Japanese Proverb)
At the risk of actually agreeing with MKI for the first time, it is pretty clear that humans evolved as omnivores that derived much of their nutrition from eating meat. And that animal fats and proteins provides optimal health and functioning. This frankly makes logical and common sense from an evolutionary standpoint. And is a separate argument from the issue of harm that industrial farming both meat and grains/vegetables has on the environment.
I say this as a practicing vegetarian and former Vegan who has looked hard at the evidence and personally experienced dramatic health benefits by both reducing grains and fruits and other carbs and reintroducing animal protein and fat into my diet.
Your appeal to authority touting the academic integrity and unassailablity of the the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is particularly misguided.
They (formerly known as the ADA ) are essentially a’ professional’ special interest organization operating on a sclerotic and failed paradigm that brought us both the upside down food pyramid and the subsequent obesity and metabolic syndrome epidemic. Their science is self referential and suspect and funded by industrial food interests and commercial entities. Looking at their current sponsors they are unsurprisingly in sync with their dietary recommendations, and their ‘helpful’ articles and findings.
On the plus side Coca Cola is no longer sponsoring them!
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is the world’s largest association of nutrition professionals. They claim to be devoted to “improving the nation’s health.” They promote a series of Nutrition Fact Sheets. Who writes them? Industry sources pay $20,000 per fact sheet to the ADA and explicitly take part in writing the documents. The ADA then promotes them through its journal and on its website.
Some of these fact sheets are “What’s a Mom to Do: Healthy Eating Tips for Families” sponsored by Wendy’s; “Lamb: The Essence of Nutrient Rich Flavor,” sponsored by the Tri-Lamb Group; “Cocoa and Chocolate: Sweet News” sponsored by the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition; “Eggs: A Good Choice for Moms-to-Be” sponsored by the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center; “Adult Beverage Consumption: Making Responsible Drinking Choices” in connection with the Distilled Spirits Council; and “The Benefits of Chewing Gum” sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute. For visuals, see Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conflicts of Interest.
Did you know there was a Wrigley Science Institute?
In 2008, the ADA announced that the Coca-Cola Company had become an “ADA Partner” through its corporate relations sponsorship program. The ADA “provides partners a national platform via ADA events and programs with prominent access to key influencers, thought leaders and decision makers in the nutrition marketplace.” The ADA’s press release also pointed out that “the Coca-Cola Company will share their research findings with ADA members in forums such as professional meetings and scientific publications.” For example, did you know there are “No Harmful Effects of Different Coca-Cola Beverages on Rat Testicles?” Was that even a concern? Thou doth protest too much methinks…
mememonkey, I am aware of the conflicts of interest of the AND. In fact I had come across that material from nutritionfacts.org previously. However, I think that those conflicts of interest, if anything, should bias them against vegan and vegetarian diets. How much money do you suppose that the pulses, whole grains, fruits and veggies industries devote to lobbying and twisting science, as a percentage of the budget for the same purpose of the meat, dairy and eggs industries? 0.01%, 0.1%, 1%?
Also note that a fact sheet is not the same thing as a peer-reviewed paper. The AND’s position on vegan and vegetarian diets is not a fact sheet sponsored by the lentils association, it’s a peer-reviewed paper. (I’m not saying it’s impossible to publish a peer-reviewed paper on the net benefits of chewing gum, it probably can be done.)
Regarding our evolutionary past, I think it’s clear that being able to digest animal products gave us an evolutionary advantage. Tens of thousands of years ago, if you couldn’t eat animals, and the plants run out for whatever reason, you would soon become compost. However, that proves nothing about the healthfulness of animal products, and it definitely proves absolutely nothing about the healthfulness of a diet very heavy on animal products like the paleo diet. That observation is entirely compatible with animal products being unhealthful.
20000 years ago high cholesterol and all the nasty effects of animal products didn’t matter. They are long-term effects, not instant poison. Even if back then someone ate what the paleo diet proposes for their entire lifetime, it almost never would have killed them before they passed on their genes to the next generation. Today, your goal is not to survive long enough to have offspring at age 15. It’s getting past 70 without heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, etc. along the way. Like it or not, science is the only way we have to determine what the optimal human diet is. Shaky hypotheses about the pre-historic past won’t do.
Following up on nedyne’s comment
and there’s also our earlier paleo diet debate
as nedyne points out so well, there’s a logic problem laying paleo survival patterns on top of human nutrition needs and worse, modern food and animal food production. As lots of science shows, benefits vs risks is a powerful and necessary factor to consider.
I’m surprised that nobody has listed any “How-To” books. You know, the kind that can limp you through a complex problem if the internet is down. Of course, if you only prep for conditions where the internet is operational, you won’t need any of these books.
I occasionally walk through thrift stores and junk stores (they buy leftovers from estate sales for parts of pennies on the dollar.) It is amazing what can be found. Generally, the items there are those that may have been popular at some time but currently are not. These books aren’t popular … because the internet is soooo much easier. Who in their right mind would even buy these?
I’m as left brain dominant as anyone else here and have read a good number of the recommended books. But I also love a good story and I strongly endorse Sandpuppys suggestion for right brain nourishment. There is nothing like a good plotline with empathetic characters to really bring home the practical implications of a situation that is otherwse of ‘academic interest’.
I have the sense that most people who hang around here have at least recognized the limits of the reductionist paradigm. A great introduction to the replacement paradigm is Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows (one of the Limits to Growth authors)
Along similar lines, I found The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra a very accessible introduction for anyone transitioning from a reductionist world view to a systemic one. He’s one of the Bioneers folks now. I hear is newer book, The Systems View of Life is good but I have not read it myself.
And since foodies and permies made the list, I was surprised not to see any titles by Joel Salatin, especially since he’s been a guest. I haven’t read all of his books so you can pick one.
There, after lurking here for so many years I finally pulled the trigger on a comment! Just before you’re coming to my home town of Denver … and I won’t be here that day 🙁
I’d add Limits to Growth: A 30 Year Update as well as the best book on Peak Energy. The Best Peak oil boom I’ve read is The Party is Over, but that was published in 2003, I believe.
Dennis and Donella Meadows and company nailed our problem very effectively in the mid 70s. The promised 40 year update to Limits to Growth was cancelled, probably because of Donella’s death.
Cherry picking of data: selectively choosing the best case example to prove your point while ignoring cases that do not serve your conclusion is rampant. Nutritionfacts.org website (gregor) does it too. It comes in part from deadline pressures. There is so much research out there who has the time to sift thru and cogently review/summarize all the findings (that usually end up with contradictory results anyway)? So it is easier to just present one piece of research that “proves” your point. That is what I meant about cherry picking.
And the reliance on a single piece of research to prove a point is dangerous as well. Look at most recent blogpost on MDA: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/women-and-intermittent-fasting/
He says: women’s ghrelin levels rise faster after meals than men. He links to this article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23509106 as support. 16 healthy overweight/obese adults, 5 men 11 women, presumably caucasian. That is not a sample size large enough to draw conclusions you can generalize to all of the world’s population: all ages, all races, all levels of health, eating varied diets. Mark Sisson at least tries to point out the shortcomings, but not often enough IMO. The rest of that blog post goes on in the same vein: quoting rat research and extrapolating to humans, etc. What is really needed is large, randomized trials in humans and most importantly: is the single case study of you. Meaning, everyone is so unique, your mileage may vary, so go do that experiment for yourself and see if it helps/hinders. Mark Sisson is a champion for that self hacking and I applaud that spirit.
I read Weston Price as part of required reading in Naturopathic Medical School. The professor cautioned us that it was likely problematic, as not that rigorous (ie: more anedoctal/observational/not qualitative or quantatitive enough) but had some interesting observations. I also remember a classmate who had her undergraduate degree in Anthropology, said it smacked of selection bias and was typical for the era: in that Price had a preconceived healthy savage agenda. Or something to that effect, it was 30 years ago this all happened. I should go back again and read it now. I do remember a bit about how the Salish peoples reserved organ meats like liver for pregnant and nursing mothers, invalids. Which made sense. the muscle meat to organ meat ratio is such that not every one gets to eat organ eat all the time, so you save it for those who may need it most.
I am not trying to prove we should all be vegan or omnivores. I am just saying if you do eat animal products, then in terms of climate change and health, people in the West should be eating less than they do now. Animal products as condiments, not animal products as the star of your plate three meals a day, which is how many eat today.
Whoa, spending way too much time on this. gotta run
I’d love to read more books but I’m too busy. Is there a way to get them on podcast so I can listen while driving?
How-to books can be useful but dealing with what level of technology? I have the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, and it’s always fun browsing through it. Take “Driving” for instance: it treats of horses only and I had no idea that driving was such a complicated art and high-level skill. Single horse, 2 in hand, 4 in hand, leader and two wheelers, and more. Consider this little excerpt:
In the first place he has he has now four reins instead of two to manipulate, and the increase of weight on his hand, especially when four horses are being driven, requires considerable strength of wrist to support it without tiring. It is of the first importance, moreover, that that he should know instinctively the position in his hand of each of the reins, and be able automatically and instantaneously to lay a finger on any one of them. The driver who has to look at his reins to find the off-side leader’s rein, or who touches the near-side wheeler’s in mistake for it, is in peril of a catastrophe.
The reins are held in the left hand and adjustments made with the right. Single horses are much simpler to drive, apparently, but I for one won’t be learning to drive any time soon.
The 1911 levels of science, mathematics, engineering and sundry technologies were very high. Leave me well behind.