When the publisher sent me a review copy of Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, it was already on my Amazon wish list. I’ve long admired nutritionist T. Colin Campbell as both a researcher and as a writer; and per my expectations based on past work from this author, he knocks this one right out of the park!
Best known for publishing The China Study, Campbell rocked the nutrition world in 2005 by finding results he wasn’t ‘supposed to’ find — specifically the deep connection between plant-based eating and cancer prevention. His research and his voice also contributed heavily to the powerful 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives, exploring the connection between diet and disease (especially cancer and heart disease).
In his new book Whole, Campbell and his coauthor Howard Jacobson challenge the reductionist model of scientific exploration in the complex field of human nutrition. The intricate dance of food and health, of diet and disease, can’t be reduced to simple ‘If this then that’ formulations — and when the dominant paradigm dons blinders to that reality, we miss an opportunity to understand some really vitally important stuff!
The author begins by tracing his background, in the context of discovering the limits of the modern reductionist research model in the nutritional community by (heretically) pushing against its boundaries. Campbell shines a bright light on the mental filters dictating the nature of how nutrition research is designed, funded, and reported. He argues powerfully in favor of a long-overdue revision of how we think of food and health, and inspires readers to embrace the complex reality of a system in which the gestalt always trumps the minutia.
As Campbell points out,
“Food is as fundamental to our survival as oxygen. But while we all breathe the same air, we have lots of choices when it comes to food. And those choices determine not just how we eat, but also how we utilize our agricultural land, what our government subsidizes, what we teach our children, and what sort of society we create.”
The stakes couldn’t be higher: the way we frame information about diet and nutrition impacts our health (and our world) profoundly. And as Whole authors make brilliantly clear, the dominant reductionist approach in nutrition science urgently needs revision, in terms of the way we understand (or fail to understand) the deep connection between food and health.
I was excited to receive my review copy of Whole, and now that I’ve read it I’m equally excited to lend it to the people in my world who care about diet and health. I found it to be a fascinating, easy read, and am very glad to have it on my shelf!
Image by this writer, all rights reserved (except for the authors of Whole — you guys can use this image all you want, and thanks for a fabulous book!).