Marion Nestle’s book, Food Politics, is 469 pages of truth that the food and supplement industries hope you never read.
Nestle is a world reknowned professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health. Her books are one facet of her multi-pronged assault on the food industry in the battle for the American stomach. Nestle’s basic food advice always boils down to this:- Eat less
- Move more
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Eat locally produced and prepared foods
According to Nestle, the basis of any plan for a healthy lifestyle boils down to those four simple rules. She doesn’t rule out junk food or sweets, just don’t make those items the cornerstone of your life.
A big part of Nestle’s mission is debunking food industry claims–claims that are often disingenuous. She has a unique ability to pare away the layers of obfuscation and misdirection and get to the core of the issue. Take her dissection of this common product: “No matter what their labels say, margarines are basically the same — mixtures of soybean oil and food additives. Everything else is theater and greasepaint.” She has been threatened with lawsuits by various food industry lobbying organizations, but her rebuttals are often so pointed and truthful that the industry lawyers know that if they tried to drag her in to court that they would not only lose, but they would raise her profile.
In Food Politics Nestle not only goes after the food industry, but also those organizations and individuals that should be acting as counter-weights to industry cash. She exposes how nutritionists and and nutrition organizations, including the much-heralded Tufts Nutrition Navigator, are on the take from the food industry. In the case of the Tufts Nutrition Navigator, Kraft (a.k.a. Philip Morris), sponsored the site. It certainly seems as though it might be hard to offer truly objective advice on food when your primary sponsor is a food company.
If you’re truly interested in the straight dope about what you’re eating, and what you should be eating, Food Politics is for you. It will most likely affect the way you think about food, food industry regulation, and even the structure of our government. However, that is what all good books do. They make us think about the world in new ways.