Books about how cool vegetables are… but not diet books and cookbooks
January 12, 2020 9:43 PM   Subscribe

I recently read this NYT article on how good fruit is for you, that broke down the process of digestion and how our body uses fruit as fuel. It motivated me to eat fruit, in a "Wow! Nature is f’ing awesome!" way and not an "Ugh I need to eat 5 servings of this so I don't die early" kind of way. What credible, scientific, *non-diet* sources are there of information about how humans digest food, why some foods are awesome for us, and how fruits and vegetables help our bodies?

I want to learn about how cool fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds and grains are, how the human body digests them, chemical processes, etc. Not interested in cookbooks and if I ever read a diet book again I’m going to explode into a million tiny pieces.

Any online search for resources about “whole foods” or “nutrition” bring up the usual suspects of diets/warnings about sugar/punitive sources.

I’m also not interested in books about how bad certain things are or how corrupt the food industry is. I’ve read a zillion articles on how bad processed foods and sugar are for you, I want to be entranced by what is GOOD for me!
posted by rogerroger to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The book that came to mind for me was Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food - In Defense of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

In the book, Pollan argues, similarly to the fruit article you linked to, that you cannot simply reduce food to its nutritional components and that there are often other things that are important. Similar to the argument that you cannot have a Coke + Metamucil with the same calories as a piece of fruit and still expect it to have the same effect on you.

Very readable and not too much of 'oh, the horror!'.
posted by AnnaRat at 12:28 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

On Food & Cooking by Harold McGee is what you want.
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 2:30 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

You may have to read selectively, because parts of the book hit your no-no list, but I found the chapters on secondary plant compounds in The Dorito Effect to be absolutely fascinating.
posted by telepanda at 7:21 AM on January 13, 2020

there are a couple chapters about food and digestion in "The Body: a Guide for Occupants" by Bill Bryson that might interest you.
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:41 AM on January 13, 2020

Speaking of Pollan, "The Botany of Desire" dedicates half of the text to two food plants–the apple and the potato (with plenty of diversions into other fruits and veggies within).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:37 AM on January 13, 2020

This book I found super fascinating -- Eating on the Wild Side. It goes through the major plant families and breaks down which varieties are healthiest for you, like have the most antioxidants or micro nutrients. I used to think an apple was an apple, but the book taught me that you can tell what part of the apple was exposed to UV rays, which boost the apple's protection system, which is beneficial for you to ingest. (Basically, the red spots of a variety that reacts to UV rays this way is the visual clue. So now, I choose apples that are more red than green.) I picked up this book in the beginning of the spring and read about each plant group that became "in season" at the farmers market. It made the year a fun way to eat what was local and fresh, and learn about how to choose varieties that are most beneficial.
posted by pdxhiker at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2020

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