Rich Food, Poor Food (Review)

Rich Food Poor Food (review)
Rich Food Poor Food

Rich Food, Poor Food, by Jayson and Mira Calton might be on your reading list if you are trying to improve your diet or lose weight. But before you invest in the book or the eating plan, this review will help you decide if the book is right for you.

Rich Food Poor Food Overview

In this well-organized book, Jayson Calton, Ph.D., and Mira Calton,CN lay the foundation for the food selections that they recommend.

In the first three chapters, the authors teach important skills that will help you to look past the useless health claims on the front of food package labels and find the real story in the ingredients list on the back. 

For example, a full page is dedicated to deciphering claims on two different popular Lay's brand products. The Caltons decode the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list when they compare the two snacks. Their recommendation? The full-fat Classic Potato Chip is a healthier option than the "healthier" Baked Lays Crisp. The reader is guided through the mini-investigation so that they can use their own savvy smarts when they shop.

Specific recommendations are provided for readers in easy-to-read charts. Each section of the grocery store has its own chapter so that readers can compile a grocery list that will be easy to follow when they shop. In addition, specific brand names are listed which makes shopping according to the Caltons' plan easier to follow.

Rich Food Poor Food: Pros and Cons

While I fully support the Caltons’ principles, I wish they had carried them over into the production of their own book. The entire first section of their book is based on the premise that health claims need to be supported by evidence. I agree! But that goes for all health claims - good and bad.

The Caltons make several strong claims about food ingredients. I didn't feel that the claims were strongly supported by facts. For example, the authors say that we are in the midst of a micronutrient deficiency pandemic. They say that research “proves” that the urgent crisis is due to soil depletion, global food distribution, factory farming and modern cooking methods. But no research is provided.

The Caltons also list a number of evil EMDs – Everyday Micronutrient Depleters. These include tannins, caffeine, and GMOs, among others. But very little evidence is provided (and none is specifically referenced) for the claims that they make.

Of course, it’s smart to know what’s in your food, but it’s also important to get a balanced assessment of all food claims. The issue of GMOs, for example, is strongly debated with intense arguments on both sides. The only side that is represented in Rich Food, Poor Food is the Caltons’. I don't necessarily support the use of GMOs, but I think it's important to make educated choices and in order to do that you need to know all the facts.

I reached out to Mira Calton to ask about the health claims and about the lack of evidence. She said that there was more research provided in their first book. She also provided the study on which their beliefs are based. It’s a single research project conducted by one person – her husband – on behalf of the company who is selling the book. It compares the nutrient make-up of four popular weight loss programs. There is no mention of a worldwide pandemic or research to support it.

She also said that the claims about the dangerous nutrients, specifically GMOs, are based on their opinions. She said that in an effort to make the book more palatable for readers she and her husband chose not to include specific references to studies. 

Rich Food, Poor Food: My Verdict

Should you buy the book and use it as a shopping guide? In my home, I wouldn't. Even though the book is well organized and contains some helpful information, I wouldn't feel comfortable using this in my own life simply because there is no clear distinction between opinion and solid, research-based fact. The advice is too muddy for my comfort level.

Of course, I want to avoid harmful ingredients in order to live a long and healthy life. But I don't want to spend that life wandering the aisles of a grocery store being afraid of everything on the shelf, nor do I have the money or the time to afford the “rich food” that they list. As the Caltons preach in Part 1 of their book, the devil is in the details and I didn't find enough detail to support their significant claims or suggestions.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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