Nina Planck and Marion Nestle Dish


Two of Manhattan’s most famous foodies recently published books called “What to Eat.” But Nina Planck’s Real Food: What to Eat and Why and Marion Nestle’s What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating could hardly have been more different. Planck prescribes a diet rich in animal fats while nutritionist Nestle eschews them, counting calories.

Last year these two women’s stars crossed again when each published a book on what to feed the beloved little live being on your lap: Planck on food for babies (of which she has three), Nestle on food for pets (of which she has none). Each is a fascinating read, whether or not you’ve got a 20-pound companion in your care.

Nestle’s Pet Food Politics surprises in two ways. One is that an account of the massive 2007 recall of melamine-tainted pet food could make such a gripping read (which it does, thanks to her sharp wit and even sharper eye for hypocrisy). The other is that Pet Food Politics is really about globalization’s implications for the human food supply. Echoing her eminently important classic Food Politics, Nestle reveals how easily these toxins made their way into our own food, sold as salvage to pig and chicken farms with the government’s blessing. The subtitle, after all, is “The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine.”

Planck’s Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods also wittily skewers the modern industrialized diet—for babies and expectant and nursing moms. And while her ideas are unconventional and even provocative (she swilled raw milk throughout pregnancy, claims swollen moms-to-be need more steak and that best baby foods include salmon roe and raw meat), her indictment of formula is impassioned and airtight. We simply love her chapter-long definition of real food (in a nutshell it’s old and traditional, but read the book for right-on details).

Both books are rich reading for people with or without dependents. For all their differences, Planck and Nestle both argue convincingly that it’s time to collectively bite the industrial hand that feeds us.

Book jackets courtesy of the publishers.