According to Conrad

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are


Books and sources that I have read in forming my views on nutrition. I have tended to use books that summarise and interpret the research, rather than research repots themselves. I have therefore divided the references into sections:

Recommended as basically sound

Allport 2000: Susan Allport, The Primal Feast - Food, Sex, Foraging and Love, 2000. A lovely book that's a delight to read, covering a wide span of evolutionary issues as per the title. (This could usefully be read with Wrangham 2009).

Banting 1864: William Banting, Letter on Corpulence - Addressed to the Public, 1864. In the late 19th Century, we knew what was good for us, and what wasn't, more or less. Part of the credit of this must go to Banting, whose name became a verb meaning to eat healthily. His classic letter is available on the web, for example here. For a good summary of Banting see the prologue to Taubes 2007 or see an online summary here.

Cordain, Loren: See his most cited articles at

Cordain 1999: Loren Cordain, Cereal grains: humanity’s double-edged sword, 1999. An short, technical and fascinating account of how cereals have supported ahe development of civilization, but compromised the development of man. In Simopoulos AP (ed): Evolutionary Aspects of Nutrition and Health. Diet, Exercise, Genetics and Chronic Disease, World Rev Nutr Diet. Basel, Karger, 1999, vol 84, pp 19–73. Available as pdf at See also this overview article

Cordain 2002: Loren Cordain, Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease, 2002. A study that concludes: Literature comparisons showed tissue lipids of North American and African ruminants were similar to pasture-fed cattle, but dissimilar to grain-fed cattle. The lipid composition of wild ruminant tissues may serve as a model for dietary lipid recommendations in treating and preventing chronic disease.. In other words, avoid corn-fed cattle. Luckily in New Zealand, practically all cattle is grass fed.

Davis 2012: William Davis, Wheat Belly, 2012. Worth reading past the irritating section headings and pathetic analogies. A convincing argument against eating wheat, modern wheat in particular and high GI grains in general. Unfortunately he doesn't not always differentiate which of these categories his various conclusions refer to. Interesting discussion on the radical changes in wheat varieties in the last few decades: In parallel with increased consumption, we also have the silent replacement of wheat from four-foot-tall Triticum aestivum with high-yield dwarf strains and new gluten structures not previously consumed by humans.

Diamond 1987: Jared Diamond, The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race, 1987. The title refers to agriculture. A good, short article available on the web.

Di Cagno et al. 2004, ''Sourdough bread made from wheat and nontoxic flours and started with selected lactobacilli is tolerated in celiac sprue patients' '. They conclude that a long fermentation time for bread decreases the level of gluten intolerance in humans. They call this a 'novel tool'. I suspect it is a re-discovery. See

Dufty 1975: William Dufty, Sugar blues, 1975. An entertaining journey through the history of sugar and it deleterious effects on individuals and societies. Most people know that should reduce sugar intake but find it difficult. Read this, and it becomes easy.

Eaton and Konner 1975: Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner, Paleolithic Nutrition — A Consideration of Its Nature and Current Implications, New England Journal of Medicine 1985. The original article on Paleolithic nutrition, followed up by the same authors with Paleolithic nutrition revisited - A twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications in 1997 and Paleolithic Nutrition - Twenty-Five Years Later in 2010.

Fallon 1999: Sally Fallon, with Mary Enig, Nourishing traditions - the cookbook that challenged politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats, 1999. An excellent book, half cookbook and half theory. First time through I just read the theory sections, which provide an excellent summary of Weston Price, Sugar Blues and many others that I have not read, other than through Sally's excellent selective quotations. According to Wikipedia: "Sally Fallon, an advocate for the nutritional theories of Price, recruited Enig to utilize her nutritional training to co-write a book to popularize Price's work in 1989 called Nourishing Traditions […]. It explained Price's findings and provided recipes of traditional foods such as chicken liver pâté, sauerkraut, sourdough breads and bone broths, as well as raw milk, kombucha, probiotics (yogurt, kim-chee), trans-fat avoidance, organ meats, coconut oil, and butter and has sold more than 400,000 copies as of 2011". Sally Fallon is chief architect of the Weston Price society (which I've joined) at

Deb Gully has written some fine summaries on including on milk. The style's rather lurid, but the content's good.

Levenstein 2012: Harvey Levenstein, Fear of Food

Lindberg 2010: Staffan Lindberg, Food and Western disease. An excellent work, summarising the state of scientific knowledge as at 2010, and including the author's own comparisons of Swedish and Kitavan health. Hir review of the state of knowledge make healthy acknowledgement of the systemic biases in many scientific studies, which is perhaps why he seems to be referenced more for his Kitavan subdues than his comprehensive analysis. Essential reading.

Joseph Mercola. A very sound source IMHO. I have listened to his YouTube interviews which are very interesting. You have to put up with his ranting, but it's worth it for the content. I haven't read any of his books yet. He brands himself Dr Mercola.

Minger 2010: Denise Minger's blog site, this entry on Wheat is murder. See In informal blog speak but full of fascinating information and links. She does a critical re-evaluation of the data behind the China Study

Plank 2006: Nina Plank, Real food - what we eat and why, 2006. An excellent book, definitely in the recommended reading list, thank you Vanessa for introducing me.

Price 1938: Weston Price, Nutrition and physical degeneration - a comparison of primitive and modern diets and their effects, 1938. The bible. Weston Price realised what was happening with western diets, and traveled far and wide to research then-existing traditional societies, the health and diets. Read others for academic theories on whats good for you, read Weston Price for what is demonstrably good for you.

Rheaume-Bleue: Kate Rheaume-Bleue was interviewed by Joseph Mercola on her new book ''Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox', 2012, which I haven't read yet but is high on my list.

Shanahan 2009: Catherine Shanahan with Luke Shanahan, Deep Nutrition - Why your genes need traditional food, 2009. A very interesting book, apart from somewhat dubious pre-occupation with […], and endless promises of what the book will later reveal. But it does eventually reveal it. A very healthy focus on the inter-generational aspects of nutrition. Essential reading for potential mothers to be, and don't wait until you're pregnant, either. Nutrition-wise, Catherine advocates the 'four pillars of world cuisine':

  1. Meat on the bone
  2. Organ meat - offally good for you
  3. Better than fresh - fermentation and sprouting
  4. Fresh - the benefits of raw

All very sound: add seafood and organics, and it's close to perfect

Stevens 2009: Daniel Stevens, Bread - River Cottage Handbook No. 3, 2009

Stefansson 1956: Vilhjalmur Stefansson, The fat of the land, 1956. A fascinating account of how many traditional societies thrived an an exclusive meat diet, and there preference within that for animal fat. Stefansson spent years on such diets in his travels, and underwent a controlled test of such a diet in Europe. The second half of the book drags on, but the first half is a fascinating read.

Taubes An American science writer and author of two excellent books. Highly recommended reading. The first is long, comprehensive and monumental. I challenge anyone to read it thoughtfully and then adhere to conventional 'wisdom' on avoiding saturated fats, eating vegetable fat and feasting on carbohydrates. Or indeed, to calling the foundations of modern nutritional policy 'science'. The second book is a shorter, more digestible summary of the first. I recommend reading both, carefully. See also Taubes 2007: Good Calories, Bad Calories - Fats, Carbs and the controversial science of diet and health Taubes 2011: Why We Get Fat, and what to do about it, 2011, titled The Diet Delusion in the UK See also his seminal 2002 article What if it's all been a big fat lie?.

Walker 2003: Harlan Walker (editor), The fat of the land, Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2002

Watson 1971: Lyall Watson, Omnivore - The role of food in human evolution, 1971. An interesting summary of how food shaped us. I particularly liked his accounts of how eating is built into our motivation - he gives a lovely example of the Racoon. Lyall Watson understudies Desmond Morris.

Wrangham 2009: Richard Wrangham, Catching fire - How cooking made us human. A fascinating account of how our ancestors relied on cooking from our earliest days, and the nutritional and social consequences of it. An excellent chapter on the perils of raw food diets. (This could usefully be read with Allport 2000).

Popular food writers

Pollan: Popularist American author of some entertaining and well written books on food, including In Defense of Food - An Eater's Manifesto, The Omnivore’s Dilemma - A Natural History of Four Meals, and Food Rules - An Eater's Manual. While I've read and enjoyed these books I learned little nutritional from them. In Food Rules, he includes many witty and memorable guidlines, but some are very suspect. An example is his adage that Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, other mammals). Ethically, maybe. Nutritionally, nonsense. He concludes his Omnivore’s Dilemma with the advice Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. It's now an often quoted phrase. It's a shame and lost opportunity that someone read by so many can sum up his conclusions so uselessly. I'd re-state it as Eat unprocessed, organic food. As much as you like. Minimum grains.

Weil: Andrew Weil, a well known 'complementary' health advocate and author from the US. Very popular, very commercial and much of his advice is accompanied by a 'buy now'. In my view, despite this, he's basically sound, but is only slowly realising (or at least promulgating) the emerging understanding of fats and carbs - for example his August 2012 ''Lard making a comeback

The conventional wisdom of the last 40 years has been that saturated fats in our diets - that is, fats such as lard that are solid at room temperature - are a principal cause of high cholesterol and rising rates of heart disease. However, those conclusions now seem to be based on rather shaky science. A more recent scientific analysis of 21 studies determined that there is no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Instead, the principal culprit in the obesity epidemic, and a major contributor to heart disease, appears to be overconsumption of sugars and carbohydrate-intensive foods.

His published works therefore are out of date on these subjects, but I look forward to his new editions. See

Read but discarded as misguiding

Campbell 2004: Colin Campbell, The China Study, 2004. How to mis-use statistics to claim that China's epically-scoped study proved that the'cure' for Western Disease was a "whole food, plant based diet", i.e. vegetarianism. Luckily I know statistics and could see his confusion of cause and effect. I saw also the film Forks Over Knives, a scary view (and a good story) but of the same bogus logic. At least a temporary sway into the nutritional (not moral) desert of vegetarianism improved my cooking of vegetable dishes.

Books I haven't read myself yet, but intend to…

  • Mary Enig Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats
  • John Yudkin's Pure, white and deadly
  • Robert Lustig's Bitter truth video on YouTube
  • David Gillespie's Sweet poison
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