The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood

Review by Columbine Quillen

Food – September 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: – A Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating
by Rebecca Wood
Published in 1999 by Penguin Arkana
ISBN 0-14-025032-8

THIS BOOK, from part-time Crestone resident Rebecca Wood, contained every food I could think of looking up, including yerba maté, quinoa, and chicos. Not only did it contain every fruit, vegetable, grain, and herb I could think of, it gave a good description of its origin, its health benefits, its use, and how to buy and store it. Wood is very specific about what produce is best to buy in what seasons and how to tell when a certain food is at its best. She even offers some recipes, including super granola and natural chewing gum.

Wood’s descriptions are clear and concise. I was even able to figure out some of the mislabeled mystery vegetables I had seen at the grocery store from her illustrative accounts. Her explanations are well researched and fairly thorough. For example, she not only mentions flax oil’s cooking benefits, she also explains some of its industrial uses.

My only fault with Wood’s book is that she labeled some foods as not good for you, such as aspartame, sugar, and soy nuts. The book would have been better had she left her personal judgment to herself and listed the facts, as she did with most of the other foods. She states that both aspartame and sugar are not good for you, and gives them the same Ø rating. I have trouble believing that sugar is as bad for you as a factory- produced chemical that does not contain calories, but tastes sweet.

Furthermore, she states that soy nuts and soy nut butter are hard-to digest and that “Real nuts or nut butter taste so much better.” That is certainly a matter of opinion. She should have left off with the fact that highly processed bean products are often hard to digest and printed the same health, use, and buying information she offered for most other foods. It is almost as if, if she doesn’t like it, then you are not allowed to like it either.

Otherwise the book is excellent. I recommend it to anyone who takes an interest in what she eats or wants to know more about the produce at the local store. It is easy to read and well-organized in alphabetical order.

–Columbine Quillen