Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
By Thomas Campbell
Maybe you’ve read The China Study by the father and son team T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell at the urging of a doctor or family member. The 79-year-old father, T. Colin Campbell, has just published a new book this year called Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. You might ask: Why read another book on nutrition? While The China Study centered on the evidence that a plant-based diet is the best for us, Whole focuses on why it is so difficult to get this information to people and what needs to be done to bring about real change in the human diet and the Western health-care system. It is not necessary to have read The China Study to benefit from Whole.
Campbell divides Whole into four parts. In Part I he shares background on how he came to write The China Study and some of the criticisms that have come out since its publication in 2005 as a way to understand the philosophies presented in Whole. In Part II Campbell argues that one of the biggest barriers to health and long life is the “mental prison” of Western science and medicine. Thousands of researchers work in specialized medicine with no awareness of the big picture, as if each problem stood alone disconnected from any other problem; research with a big-picture is shunned and rarely funded by the medical establishment. In Part III Campbell takes a look at how profit is the rule of our health-care system and how it stops us from making sound decisions about our quality of life. Part IV looks at how economic forces of government and private institutions manipulate public information to increase profit.
Whole is a rigorous examination of nutrition science with some direction from Campbell about what we can do to change our culture. At the very least, Whole will put you in the frame of mind to reevaluate how you care for yourself and your community.
Far from the Tree
By Andrew Solomon
Psychiatrist and award-winning author Andrew Solomon spent years interviewing families with children who are deaf, children conceived in rape, children who are transgender, children who are prodigies, children who became criminals, children with mental and developmental disorders.
Each chapter in Far from the Tree explores a different group of families and the challenges they face. Any of these families can be terribly isolated because of their situations, but they show us all what it means to be a family. Some families come to embrace what they once feared. Others become advocates. Some families grow closer. Each family is very different, but the one thing they have in common is compassion. Besides sharing these stories, Solomon takes a gracious step forward into his own exploration of being a son and of his hope to one day be a father.
You will also think, as Solomon does, of your own journey as a child, your journey into parenthood – or not. You will remember that child in your life that is different. You will consider the degree of acceptance and prejudice our society has for those that “fall far from the tree,” for those who gain their identity not just from their vertical parents but from a broader, or horizontal, culture and genetics. In exploring family after family, Solomon does a great deal to show the love despite the difficulties:
“For some parents of children with horizontal identities, acceptance reaches its apogee when parents conclude that while they supposed that they were pinioned by a great and catastrophic loss of hope, they were in fact falling in love with someone they didn’t yet know enough to want. As such parents look back, they see how every stage of loving their child enriched them in ways they never would have imagined, ways that are incalculably precious. Rumi said that the light enters you at the bandaged place. This book’s conundrum is that most of the families described here have ended up grateful for experiences they would have done anything to avoid.”
I tried to ignore this book, but everywhere I turned someone was talking about it. I tried to think that it was too long for me to read, but it’s not. Even if it takes you a year, take it slow and read this book one chapter at a time.
Spark: How Creativity Works
By Julie Burstein
Spark is a collection of essays about how real life and creativity collide, revealed through many conversations on Studio 360, the fastest growing show in Public Radio International’s history. Artists, filmmakers, architects, sound engineers, writers and musicians share their experiences of creating solutions out of adversity, incorporating family and home life into their work, growing in creative partnerships, and how they get to work, start again and understand when a creative effort is actually finished.
One of the writers featured in Spark is one with whom Mississippians are familiar – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford. The foundation for Ford’s creativity began in childhood out of adversity. As a child, Ford never dreamed of becoming a novelist; he rarely even read as he struggled with dyslexia. Reading out loud turned out to be faster than reading silently and as a result he became acutely aware of the sounds and rhythms of language as he lingered over sentences and eventually began to write his own stories. When he was writing The Lay of the Land, Ford and his wife, Kristina, took turns reading passages aloud to each other, discussing melody and meaning of the lines. Ford says: “I feel like if I don’t read things aloud, I don’t really fully authorize them. I have to hear everything, hear what every sentence sounds like. I write so somebody will read what I write.”
Spark is a delightful book to pack in your bag as you travel this summer. From Richard Ford to Roseanne Cash to Kevin Bacon to the collaboration of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Spark illuminates the creative life and inspires. You will also learn the story of how Studio 360 became such a successful show despite some of its key players having no radio experience. I’ll leave you with the wisdom of Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, a great inspiration for Studio 360 host Kurt Anderson: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”
The Happiness Diet
By Terry Graham and Drew Ramsey, M.D.
The title of this selection, The Happiness Diet, did not lead me to believe there was much to this book. My first impression was that it was just going to tell me a lot of fluff about some foods believed to make you happy. Well, I was wrong. This book is an easy-to-read, but in-depth and pragmatic look at the ills of the Modern American Diet (MAD) and how we got there, an explanation of how nutrients work together to do wonderful things for our bodies, and solutions to leave behind the MADness.
The Modern American Diet (MAD) first consists largely of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates which fool us into thinking we’re hungry when we’re not. MAD’s second largest source of calories is refined vegetable and seed oils which have been linked to an increased risk for depression.
Another contributor to our MADness is factory farmed meat pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. With MAD you can “expand your waistline and starve your brain at the same time.” Additionally, studies are showing that individuals on MAD have increased levels of depression, anxiety, mood swings, hyperactivity and a broad range of mental and emotional problems.
I have been carrying this book around with me for about two weeks. I have enjoyed it so much because it reaffirms the healthy choices I already make. One of my favorite parts of this book explains how different nutrients work together and offers suggestions on food pairings. It also gave me new ideas on healthy eating as the last part of the book contains a diet plan and recipes. For example, I made hummus with red beans (antioxidant champions) instead of chickpeas.