This post is about three books I read this month.
The Paleo Manifesto
Oh no, not another Paleo book! I had zero plans to ever read another Paleo book again, but I started hearing some positive buzz about The Paleo Manifesto as being something different. And it was. I really liked most of this book. Unlike other Paleo books which get tripped up in the nutritional science or post recipes for Paleo cupcakes that use almond flour, this book takes a step back and looks at Paleo as a system.
The first section of the book is the strongest. It explores the different eras from The Animal Age to The Information Age via stories that apply to thinking about Paleo, starting with a visit to a zoo to see what foods make gorillas sick and what foods help them thrive. Part two goes more into the author’s experience living a Paleo lifestyle in New York City. With the exception of his love for Crossfit, which makes me cringe and his using the discredited Dr. Lustig as his source for fructose restriction, the advice in this section was solid. And the final part is an excellent conclusion.
This book to me was a much-needed healthy reset to Paleo thinking. In recent years Paleo has been hijacked by many charlatans preaching overly restrictive interpretations of ancestral diets. John Durant’s book is a worthy successor to Art De Vany’s original essay which sparked my interest in Paleo in late 2007.
The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health by John Durant
My two favorite financial writers are Roger Lowenstein and John Mauldin. Lowenstein does the best job with financial history. Mauldin does the best job explaining how sometimes complicated financial topics relate to the current investing environment. John Mauldin like myself is a long-term optimist that sees a lot of problems with the current economy.
In Code Red, Mauldin details in common language the actions taken by the Federal Reserve, what their goals are, and how things can come undone. To me the best part of this book was his explanation of Financial Repression, a topic Carmen M. Reinhart covered in a Bloomberg article a year ago. Financial Repression is a term used to describe ways the government can reduce debt loads without taxation or an increase in productivity. A brief overview:
- The Federal Reserve caps interest rates, especially government debt.
- Via legislation forces insurance companies, banks, and pensions to hold a percent of their portfolio in government debt.
- Then the Fed can exert control over banks on how how much capital they need to hold.
Doing this year in and year out effectively steals a few percent from the savings of the entire population. Cyprus went nuts when their government decided to close banks and loot savings accounts to restore financial solvency. In America, it is done stealthy and slowly, and very few notice. Code Red noticed.
Code Red is an outstanding book that does an excellent job explaining the often complicated actions taken by the Federal Reserve in recent years. The book also provides investment strategies that are far more reasonable and conservative than what you might hear from some bubble-head on CNBC.
Code Red: How to Protect Your Savings From the Coming Crisis by John Mauldin
Eating on The Wild Side
My Seattle Paleo book club recently chose Eating on The Wild Side as our book of the month to read. I was a month or two late, but I finally got around to reading it. The book is a well-researched exploration into what fruits, vegetables, and legumes have the most nutrients. It also covers ways to prepare and store these foods to increase or preserve their nutritional properties.
I liked the book and thought the author did a great job, but I think the book could have been much better. The problem with this book is most of the conversation about food is about the relative strengths of one food over the other written in a novel format. I don’t think that is the best way to share this information. When you have a book with so many great ideas, the reader will do their best to remember and utilize this information when they grocery shop. Even at my book club, members were more likely to recall the book had good ideas than the ideas themselves. During the discussion, it was deemed that Eating on the Wild Side is a good “reference” book to own.
Here is how I would have made this book better had I been the publisher.
- Look at the layout of Jonny Bowden’s books. Specifically The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Full-color pictures. Beautiful typography and layout. He covers nutrition and has stars on the best of the best foods. This is where I would have started.
- More photos, especially when you are describing what to look for when picking the best fruit or veggies. Show me a mango with dark orange flesh next to a one without and I’ll be more likely to seek it out.
- A better index. All the foods made it into the index, but not the nutritional properties the reader was seeking to maximize.
- Add an appendix explaining what all these nutritional terms and why they are important. Why is lycopene important? A single resource where I can jump to for further reading would be helpful.
- Summary tables combining foods across different groups. This work needs to be done by hand by the reader now. At the end of the book, we learn a mango has 5 times the Vitamin C as an orange. In the orange chapter, we learn about different types of oranges each with their own nutritional profiles. At times I felt like I was reading a word problem in algebra class.
- Downloadable or pull-out cards with core ideas one can carry in their wallet to the grocery store.
In fairness to the book, the end of each chapter has notes, which I highly appreciate, but I think the publisher could have done a much better job. I encourage them to either do a 2nd edition or a Visual Guide to Eating on the Wild Side. This post is getting long, so tomorrow I will post some ideas from the book that I found the most interesting.
Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson
Jan 30, 2014 — 11:15 am
I have Eating on the Wild Side on my wish list but hadn’t bought it because it seemed a bit on the “woo” side. Might look into it again.
(also find it funny to read “discredited Dr. Lustig” right after I close a browser tab with a review of Lustig’s cookbook – which, apparently, includes recipes with canola oil, margarine and Egg Beaters)
Jan 30, 2014 — 3:50 pm
@Dinis – Wow. Canola, margarine and Egg Beaters? His Paleo loyalists won’t be happy hearing that.
Jan 31, 2014 — 4:26 am
The best book I’ve read on Paleo is Solving the Paleo Equation: Stress, Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep by Dr. Garrett Smith and Matt Stone.
Jan 31, 2014 — 8:29 am
@Seth – Thanks. I will read that. I really enjoyed 12 Paleo Myths by Matt which made my STUFF I LIKE list.