The Real Food Grocery Guide: Navigate the Grocery Store, Ditch Artificial and Unsafe Ingredients, Bust Nutritional Myths, and Select the Healthiest Foods Possible
By Maria Marlowe
Review by David Wineberg
Sadly, Americans need help food shopping. They buy the wrong things and eat far too much of it (because it is designed to cause craving and addiction, called incredibly, “increased share of stomach”). The Real Food Grocery Guide is a basic tour of the supermarket, with pointers. This tour fairly replicates reality. You pass through produce to meat and fish counters, and all the center aisles are packed with sugar and salt-laden processed and frozen foods. Marlowe offers analysis, advice, substitutions and references to clinical studies as to the value of various foods. It is a very useful reference/guide, generously illustrated.
It is full of really useful tips as to storage – which fruits and vegetables must be wrapped airtight or left to the air, refrigerated or countertop:
-Cucumbers should be left out. Refrigeration turns them mushy.
-Cantaloupe and honeydews should have a small depression. A protruding stub means it was picked too early and might not ripen properly.
-Garlic should be refrigerated, but not in the crisper. And it needs to rest ten minutes between prep and cooking to maximize nutrients.
-Put avocado pits in the guacamole, and put plastic wrap right on the surface - to delay browning.
-Store scallions in a countertop glass of water and their roots will absorb the water – and continue to grow instead of wilting.
-Roasting or steaming sweet potatoes doubles their antioxidants.
-If a product contains half a gram of trans fat per serving, the label is allowed to say zero trans fats. That is, manufacturers are allowed to round DOWN even though their product contains this dangerous compound – which the FDA is permanently eliminating – in a year or two.
The Real Food Grocery Guide is filled with gorgeous, high contrast, enhanced photos of foods. But the text is all about nutrients, vitamins, minimum daily values and disease fighting. (It seems that every third plant fights cancer!) This is cognitive dissonance writ large. The food is gorgeous, but the text is clinical. Europeans criticize Americans for treating food like medicine. Marlowe’s book is the working example. Everything is framed in terms of disease and disease fighting, rather than pleasure, taste and adventure. The joy of eating is missing. And that is precisely why people gravitate to processed foods.
There are also a lot of gaps. In fruit for example, there is no mention of peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, kiwis, cherries or the new hybrids like pluots, and aprums, which need some explaining. So there’s plenty to make up a second edition.
Editor's note: This review was has been reposted with permission of David Wineberg. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.