New work by famed traditional food advocate upends conventional wisdom using science and common sense
by Craig Weatherby
When it comes to food, nutrition, and food policy, we’re in close agreement with traditional food advocate Nina Planck.
Her first book, Real Food, helped spark the locavore and “slow food” movements explored in later bestsellers by UC Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan.
Nina brings the perspective of a former farm girl and pioneering locavore and traditional-foodie to the debates over food, nutrition, and farm policy… in books that are a kick to read.
In her latest work - Real Food for Mother and Baby Nina applies her informed, insightful perspectives to the mother-child experience.
Its subtitle - The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Food - reveals her new book’s key concerns.
When Nina bore her first child, Julian, in 2006, she found the usual advice about pregnancy and baby food riddled with myths and misunderstandings.
Her basic premise hasn’t changed—whole foods are best—but some of her findings and provocative propositions may surprise you:
Even as she casts a skeptical eye on conventional wisdom, Nina provides persuasive evidence that mothers, fathers, and babies can thrive on simple, delicious, traditional whole foods.
- Pregnant women need meat and salt, not iron supplements.
- Delaying the introduction of certain solid foods doesn’t prevent allergies.
- Cereals are not the best foods for tiny eaters; meat and egg yolks are better.
- From conception to two years, the body’s overwhelming needs are for good fat (including ample omega-3s) and protein, not for carrots and skim milk.
We agree with what Publishers Weekly had to say about Real Food for Mother and Baby:
“Far from deprivation, the nutritional plans here for fertility, pregnancy, nursing and young kids propose a wide variety of whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fruits, and raw milk and organic animal fats necessary for healthy pregnancies and fetal and childhood development instead of skim milk, ‘carbage’ (junk carbohydrates) and trans-fats ... It tastes better and it’s good for you.
As Publishers Weekly went on to say, “Plank gives more comprehensive pre-pregnancy and pregnancy diets than those in [the perennial mom-baby bestseller] What to Expect, and her lively, genuine and personal approach makes it easy to absorb a lot essential information.”
About Nina Planck
Nina was raised on the family farm in Virginia, eating simple, real foods. At age 9, Nina sold produce at roadside stands.
In 1980, the first proper farmers’ markets opened nearby, and from then on, the Plancks made a living—and sent two kids to college—selling local food.
Nina left farming to work on Capitol Hill, report for TIME Magazine, and write speeches for the U.S. ambassador to London, but local food was ever on her mind. In 1999, she opened the first farmers’ markets in London and today her company, London Farmers’ Markets, runs fourteen markets.
Tempted by England’s finest producers of roast beef and raw milk cheddar, Nina wondered about the advice most Americans get about diet.
After a few dutiful— and unhealthy—years in the vegan, vegetarian, and non-fat wilderness, she came home to real food, and she explained why in her first book, Real Food.
Her “persuasive, invigorating” argument—as described Michael Pollan—opened tasty doors for eaters who’d had enough of low-fat and imitation foods.
In that work, Nina drew on personal experience, the totality of nutrition/health science, and the strong evidence in favor of traditional diets documented many decades ago by peripatetic nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price.
Today, Nina is home nursing her new twins Jacob and Rose, born healthy at 38.5 weeks on August 4, 2009.
Her clear-eyed view has helped exposed the rampant reductionism that’s distorted public policy and entrenched a flawed official view of nutrition and health.