THE JUNGLE EFFECT by Daphne Miller, M.D.


      I am recommending another “must read” for anyone interested in healthy eating. Dr. Miller’s premise is that there are “cold spots” in the world where certain diseases are non-existent and that this is due to the indigenous diets of the local population. She travels to Cameroon which is a cold spot for bowel trouble and to Copper Canyon Mexico which is a cold spot for diabetes. Crete in Greece is a cold spot for heart disease and Okinawa Japan is the cold spot for prostate and breast cancer. And she also reveals how Iceland, the darkest country in the world, is the cold spot for depression. Dr. Miller is meticulous as she proves the connection between diet and health. She takes her reader on a fact finding journey to nutritionists, epidemiologists, elders from that culture, doctors, and other specialists who provide her with the pieces to the puzzle.
    Once in a while we find a book that we don’t want to finish because each page is so captivating. This is “that book” for me.   Each chapter begins with a personal story of a patient who is struggling with a health issue which was non-existent in the lineage of that person one or two generations earlier. Dr. Miller then takes the reader through her thinking process as she makes the case that diet is the major factor in disease prevention. By the end of the chapter she has made a convincing argument and provides a step by step prescription for how the reader can adopt the essential dietary features of that culture. The book ends with a section of authentic recipes from each cold spot region. 
Along the way are several side excursions that offer fascinating information:  
  • Toxins in fish and which ones to avoid,
  • Glycemic indices of potatoes and how much the index varies depending on the type of potato and how it is prepared;
  • Unraveling the mystery of the soy beans and breast cancer connection
  • The importance of caloric restriction which turns out to be one of the essential rules of the Okinawans. They have a saying: “Hara Hachi Bu” which translates to: “Eat until you are eight parts full”.
  • When to buy organic food, and
  • The health benefits of eating local foods.
There are many such side bars of extremely well articulated explanations, some of which sort out confusing and controversial dietary theories.
This book is well written, terrifically interesting and applicable to anyone who eats food. If you liked Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen, you will love this book as well. He, by the way, endorses “The Jungle Effect” on the front cover of the book.



My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Pruh’homme
     Many of us older gourmands grew up watching Julia Child teach us about how to cook and enjoy French cuisine. She was a class act: wise and so knowledgeable, cheerful and full of quirky energy that made her such an endearing personality. This is her memoir dictated through a series of interviews with her nephew Alex Prud’homme. 
    Her personality comes through so distinctly that I can really picture her vividly as she recalls her life from the time she first arrived in France in 1948. For Julia it was “love at first sight” when this sheltered, young woman with a WASP background first set her eyes (and her taste buds) on Paris. She loved the people, the culture, and particularly the food and the wine. This is her story, told in her voice and written by Paul after her death August 13th, 2004 two days before her 92nd birthday. 
     I truly feasted on this book. It is a “must read” for anyone who grew up with Julia or who has used her many cookbooks; or even people who never heard of her, but love good food. It was she that introduced us to the first successful television cooking program. Julia Child was the pioneer and inspiration for all those chef TV personalities who followed. Her passion for great food and cooking inspired many of the amateur and professional chefs of today.