An a cappella singing group comprises of several/many people, several/many different voices, performing different parts of a song. Together, they create a complete soundscape, a recreation of a musical entity: one person presenting the percussion, others the melody, others harmonies, vocals, etc. Now imagine focusing on just one of the members and extracting her from the group because her harmonizing is so angelic, so beautiful. We take her harmony out of the group and just have her perform that harmony on its own as a song, expecting the benefits of what's provided from the complete song. Well, we're not going to get it. It's only one part of many that creates the masterpiece; by itself, it's out of context and, while complete in its own individual sense, incomplete in scope of creating a full song.
Now let's bring this to the context of food & medicine: maybe extracting a specific vitamin from a whole fruit and marketing the benefits the vitamin in supplemental form; or maybe chemically creating a pill to assist in the bolstering or reduction of a certain chemical process in the body. In both cases, just like removing the vocalist from the a cappella group, we fail to receive the full benefits of the complete entity, the full picture. In fact, when it comes to messing with the natural completeness of whole plant foods, we often unconsciously (or even worse, and all too often, consciously) introduce a host of detrimental side effects into the picture, sending the exploration for health down a rabbit hole that's guided by greed and power instead of positive intentions.
In WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. T. Colin Campbell expands beyond his work in The China Study, which brought to light the immense benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet, and presents a reality where profit trumps true health and real solutions are hidden away. Dr. Campbell makes a convincing case that we ("the system") have got it all wrong. We've bypassed the clarity of what the whole picture presents by breaking everything down into tiny little pieces and allowing each and every one to define the entire picture, out of context and with selfish intention. He explains what's going on in the world of nutritional sciences, food marketing, medicine, and government, spotlighting the reductionist paradigm that unnecessarily detours the full landscape described above, and provides us with the actual truth, the WHOLE truth, about how to think critically, understand the system, and achieve true health by living WHOLE lives.
I remember reading Dr. Campbell's The China Study a few years ago - a great but dense read, packed with tons of information, charts, etc. Definitely a valuable read, but potentially not suited for readers who prefer to avoid more of a complex immersion into detailed science. I think WHOLE does a good job of bridging that gap, making for a read that can connect with even more audiences, especially because it describes the pitfalls of the current world we live in and lays out approachable solutions (we want to be in the know, right?!).
The power of this book comes from the presentation of where a non-WHOLE, or anti-WHOLE, world has left us: sicker than before, paying more for health care (which is more accurately described as "disease care"), and more confused than ever before. Yet nothing is being done by those in control to truly solve this crisis. Eating unhealthfully makes us sick. Being sick forces us toward interventions - pills, procedures, etc. Interventions cost money. Eating unhealthfully makes lots of money for the food, pharmaceutical, supplemental, and medical industries. Is this the type of world we want to live in? I can say, with 100% confidence, it is not! The solutions come from changing the policy and sources of information from the top down (which is possible but very difficult) or, more accessibly, accepting responsibility as individuals/consumers, questioning the status quo (that does not serve us), and taking action toward our own health - getting us closer and closer to a tipping point in favor of true health.
Many statistics in the book blow my mind (like "The annual revenue for Big Pharma, $289 billion in 2010, exceeds the total national budgets of at least 80 percent of the countries in the world). Learning about the reductionist paradigm's stranglehold on government and within the scientific community angered me, as it seems all too obvious that the current system is not working and has not been working for a long time now. And the information presented almost became a storyline, a journey from clarity into darkness - ending with a call to action to come back into the light.
I highly recommend WHOLE: for a fulfilling read; as an advisory to you, the consumer; as a vote for truth and for health; and so much more.
"The current system is unsustainable. The only question is, will we free ourselves before it takes us down with it? Or will we continue to pollute our bodies, our minds, and our planet with the slag of that system until it collapses under its own economic weight and biological logic? ... What we eat, individually and collectively, has repercussions far beyond our waistlines and blood pressure readings. No less than our future as a species hangs in the balance...
It's time for us to begin a real revolution - one that begins by challenging our individual beliefs and changing our diets, and ends with a transformation of our society as a whole."
~ T. Colin Campbell
~ T. Colin Campbell
You can find out more about the book, Dr. Campbell, and plant-based nutrition research, studies, and courses at www.nutritionstudies.org.
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