Two weeks ago, a publicist sent me an early copy of a book that claimed it would change everything I thought I knew about food.
That happens a lot. This one caught my eye because it warned of the “hidden dangers lurking in my salad bowl,” and I was eating a salad.
The book, The Plant Paradox, has an image of an artfully smashed tomato on the cover, and it tells readers that eating tomatoes is “inciting a kind of chemical warfare in our bodies, causing inflammatory reactions that can lead to weight gain and serious health conditions.”
Tomatoes and ill-timed references to chemical warfare are, apparently, only a small part of the problem. The Plant Paradox urgently warns against eating wheat, beans, and peanuts, among other plants.
The publisher—the “health, wellness, lifestyle, and inspirational” division of HarperCollins called Harper Wave—elaborates that readers will learn to be wary of compounds found in “grains of all kinds (especially whole wheat), beans and legumes (especially soy), nuts (especially almonds), fruits and vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.)” in addition to “dairy and eggs.”
That doesn’t leave much on the table. In the midst of soaring rates of obesity and diabetes that many experts believe are clearly linked to an abundance of low-nutrient, low-fiber, sugar-enhanced, heavily processed foods, it could seem an odd time to be warning people against fruits and vegetables. Yet the author, Steven Gundry, appears to be legitimately medically credentialed: a grey-haired, arms-folded, white-coat transplant surgeon whose biography touts a Yale degree. He holds patents on several medical devices, including cardiac cannulae and a suction retractor. He wears glasses. His book carries the endorsement of Dr. Oz.