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Nina Planck responds to WAPF’s Thumbs Down Book Review (Yep, you read that right…)

real food for mother and baby

My jaw hit the floor when I read the thumbs down book review on Nina Planck’s Real Food for Mother & Baby in the recent Wise Traditions journal (Fall 2009). Nina Planck is one of “ours”, and she’s on the front lines fighting for REAL FOOD! She writes clearly and makes a traditional diet attainable for anyone. I just didn’t get it. My opinion is that it should have been given a thumbs UP, with clarifications about the issues mentioned in the review.

One issue I would have liked clarification on was regarding Nina’s suggestion to take fish oil – in her book she wasn’t specific on what kind to take. “She does not say which brand or how much – a critical omission.” Yet in Nina’s defense, the shopping list on her website makes this very clear, with Green Pastures cod liver oil (or companies that sell it) all over the list.

This feels a bit like I have one friend who wasn’t nice to another friend, and I just want them to apologize and make it OK again. If you read the review, I’d love to hear what you think.

nina planck Nina has given me permission to post her reply here:

Dear Editor,

The review of Real Food for Mother and Baby is littered with errors and distortions about my diet, my pregnancy, and my little boy.

The reviewer’s claim that I didn’t follow a pre-conception diet of traditional foods is false. As a would-be mother of 35, I prepared myself for my first pregnancy with care. That diet included raw milk from a trusted source, as the book makes clear, as well as other traditional foods Price called for. Your reviewer calls me complacent about the few chemicals we used on our farm in my early childhood. The claim is ignorant and false. I followed a clean diet long before attempting to conceive, in order to replace toxins which might have wound up in my fat.

The reviewer insinuates that I suffered damage from my vegan and vegetarian years. This too is mistaken. My reproductive health has always been excellent; I got pregnant on the first try. The reviewer’s cynical remark about my lacking moral support for good prenatal nutrition is offensive as well as unfounded. Julian’s father Rob Kaufelt (a nationally-known champion of raw milk cheese), my mother (who fed us on traditional foods and gave me my first copy of Nourishing Traditions), and (yes) my friends at the local WAPF chapter were champions of my good nutrition.

The suggestion that my Cesarean section was caused by poor nutrition is baseless. My pelvis—where Julian got stuck, head sideways—is ample. For that, I can thank my mother’s excellent prenatal diet, generous breastfeeding, and good baby-feeding practices. There is no evidence from midwifery or nutrition that diet could have changed his birth. As for post-partum weepiness, I ate a superb traditional diet during Julian’s first weeks. As any mother knows, tears have many causes. They soon subsided. I stand by my statement that some cases of post-partum depression cannot be cured by food alone. I am lucky my baby blues were not so severe.

The reviewer’s suggestion that I was not sufficiently concerned by Julian’s low iron and thinning-out around age one is outrageous. I arranged a phone consultation with Weston Price expert Dr. Tom Cowan. I interviewed iron experts. True, I ignored our then-pediatrician, who ordered me to wean Julian and give him inorganic iron. Instead, I fed Julian his regular diet of real food, which included a near-daily dose of grass-fed ground beef. He also had cod liver oil and Dr. Ron’s grass-fed Organic Organ Delight daily. We were, as always, generous with butter and cream. Happily, real food worked. Julian’s weight gain and iron levels bounced right back.

The reviewer’s presumptions about my travel with Julian are odious and unfounded. For nearly one year, Julian did not have a babysitter; we were home together. I seldom traveled. When I did, Julian was in my arms and in my bed. When I spoke at book events, Julian was right there—safe in my mother’s arms.

Your reviewer finds my book insufficiently purist. How myopic! I describe the ideal diet with care and I describe how I eat with candor. More than 50,000 people have bought my books. Scores have written to thank me for saving them (as I was saved) from the low-fat and vegetarian wilderness. They appreciate hearing how I square an excellent diet with real life. My readers include many Weston A. Price Foundation members and chapter leaders. ‘Your books are accessible and fun to read, and I have recommended both to countless people,’ writes one chapter leader who found the review baffling.

Meanwhile, since Real Food for Mother and Baby came out, our family has been blessed again. Today, I’m nursing newborn twins. Jacob and Rose were born vaginally at full term. (Attention obstetricians: A 38 year-old mother can have VBAC twins.) I owe their good health and mine to the work of Weston Price.

Let me be clear about where I stand. I stand with Weston Price, in spirit (humanism) and substance (traditional foods). I stand with every mother who wants to reform her diet and feed children properly, no matter how far from perfection she is.

Yours truly,

Nina Planck

New York City

October 22, 2009

More from Nina Planck:


  1. As a watchful grandfather who is both a grateful member of WAPF and a keen reader of Planck and others, I was every bit as shocked as you at the narrow authoritarianism of that review. I hope that this disconnect leads to a healthy conversation among all concerned.

  2. i am so glad to read ms. planck’s response, it is excellent!

    i found her book to be the ONLY book i have ever seen or heard of which addresses maternal and child nutrition from a traditional foods, yet modern,perspective.

    as you stated, she is a real food champion and in our society, she is a minority in the sense that most folks seem to accept the dominant beliefs and misinformation about nutrition.

  3. Hey Kelly,
    I seldom read book reviews…much like a movie review…it’s all in the eyes of the reader, hence lots of projections.

    The follow up letter from Ms. PLanck that you have posted above should calm down the strictest WP follower.

    Me? I’m strict where I find it important to follow the line. But I don’t soak stuff, I don’t eat flour, organic and otherwise, and I don’t eat any sugar, honey or otherwise. Those products no matter HOW organic, are not good for me. I’ve lost over 51 pounds giving up the raw vegan lifestyle and following a WP lifestyle. It took me 3 years to extricate myself from McDougall and Ornish and come over to the “dark side.” *chuckle* That’s how it felt, anyway.

    I think Nina Planck’s follow up letter fills-in-the-blanks. I haven’t read her work, but it’s obvious by the few above paragraphs that she has a brain and uses it. I honor her for that and believe her. Now I relish the chance to read her first book.

    Coming from the 60’s and vegetarianism, then veganism, and in the 90’s and early 2000’s raw foodism, I’ve seen it all. What I vote for is a healthy approach of progress versus perfection. I feel one can, especially women, get caught up in the small details and miss the big picture: joy-infused over-all health. Let the rest fall by the wayside.

    Like Nina, its best not to allow that peace of mind to be ruffled more than it needs to be, perhaps an hour so one can fire off one’s truth.

    Too many dogmas can be suffocating. I don’t care how much grass-fed beef, sprouts if vegan, or fermented foods one eats, one can’t move from under too much dogma.
    Hugs to you Kelly and Nina! Great article. Thanks for all you do, Kelly.
    Karen in Kalifornia

  4. As a Chapter Leader for the WAPF I was shocked when I recieved my Wise Traditions journal and saw that Nina was given the “Thumbs Down”. I totally disagree with this seemingly unprofessional and rather personal attack…oops review. I hope the matter is rectified ASAP.

  5. Oh good grief! Perhaps it is because I am a natural birthing advocate who despises all of the lies out there about having babies, but insulting the fact that she had to have a cesarean outrages me.

    I have yet to read the review, so perhaps I am misled, but I believe the WAPF is not only way off base, but is really shooting themselves in the foot. Nina is able to bring Price’s work to the masses because she is *not* as seemingly extreme as others who write of Price’s work. She writes from a common sense point of view that doesn’t compromise.

    Frankly, she’s a breath of fresh air in the traditional foods competition that can be the WAPF. Their are times when I am turned off by some of the materials and attitudes that the foundation puts out. Of course they do great work, but when self-righteous attitudes get in the way and a diet becomes a religion people need a wake up call.

    • Very well put, Shannon. That about covers it! I like to eat healthy and be healthy as much as the next guy, but I have to agree with Elizabeth Walling (I think her blog is called Nourished Life or something like that) in that sometimes people get so caught up in the details that they miss the overall big picture. Living a life you can deal with and be happy with is far more important than following every single little rule to a “T”. That sort of dogma type thinking causes too much stress, and that can be just as bad as going off the rails with food once in a while.

      My family eats as healthy as we can, but we don’t skip traditions. Not now, not ever. My kids grew up with birthday cakes (although as adults they prefer birthday pies) and we still have Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions (ancestral) which we’ll not give up even in the name of WAPF. I simply don’t take it to that level.

  6. I did not read the review and so maybe am lacking in context, but I cannot fathom how the WAPF did not take to Nina’s book! I’ve read both of her books numerous times and consider them my bibles in my journey towards real food and my struggle with infertility and, hopefully soon, pregnancy and motherhood. For myself, I find Nina’s books infinitely more accessible than Nourishing Traditions or WAPF’s publications.

    Wonderful response, Nina! Kelly, thank you so much for printing this!

  7. I too, was very confused by the review. Surely the reviewer couldn’t be saying the things they appeared to be saying. Some of the criticisms seemed to be nit-picking, while others just didn’t make sense. It seemed to me that the reviewer read the book with a notepad at hand to jot down anything that might seem suspect while leaping to every possible conclusion that the author was not toeing the WAPF line.

    I’m glad Nina responded and that you have provided the response for us.

  8. I was extremely disappointed to read the review but it echoes my disappointment with WAPF in other regards. NOW – don’t get me wrong – I am a staunch supporter of the organization, its mission and goals but it’s frustrating for me to see their take on birth and breastfeeding. You know? Clearly Planck eats heavily of traditional foods and is able to make the concept of traditional foods a little more accessible to the general public. Blaming her c-section on not consuming the right types of food is fool hardy at best. YES, diet plays a role in childbirth, but not everything boils down to cod liver oil and raw milk, you know? Even in the best of circumstances, sometimes people get sick. Even in the best of circumstances, sometimes babies need help coming into the world. I’m glad she responded.

  9. Yes, as a WAPF chapter leader myself, I was somewhat surprised at the thumbs down book review. Just having my 3rd baby 7 months ago, I have just recently finished reading her book. I think her book is definitely a step in the right direction and is an excellent starting place for newbies entering into the real foods way of life. The only think that I was a little disappointed with is that she is pretty non-specific on certain things (baby food). Where some mothers would like more definite direction, she is a little bit more easy going. I think she also should have given more importance to taking cod liver oil, for example, rather than it being optional or only if needed. I think today, it is definitely needed by everyone!

    But otherwise, this book is not too overwhelming (like NT can be) for beginners and definitely emphasizes the importance of whole foods. And that is where people need to start! I also commend Nina for giving birth to twins at 38, full term, vaginally, and breastfeeding them both! Now that is a testament to what real food can do!

  10. So, now I want to read the book. :) I guess it’s the forbidden-list syndrome? Ha. Seriously though, it sounds excellent and a good lend-out for new moms/moms-to-be who are just starting out on a traditional diet.

  11. Wow. I’m as shocked as everyone else here. I love “Real Food for Mother and Baby”, and I actually appreciate her laid back style. Mothers of young children certainly don’t need anyone else in this world putting them on a guilt trip for not doing everything perfectly! As Kelly is fond of saying, we can only do what we can do!

  12. shannon and jenny- that’s exactly why i think planck’s book is important; she doesnt sound like a nutritional nut job, as those hand outs and articles from the wapf can sometimes come accross.

  13. I’ve yet to actually become a member of WAPF so I missed this, but just seeing the blog title I was shocked. Real Food is what got me started on TF at the start of the year. An org being THAT nitpicky is not a really wise move.

  14. I am just aghast… ask my poor husband who had to listen to my rant this morning. I have pretty much given up on the WAPF now. The ideas on which it was founded are still as sound as they ever were, but the leadership is on some sort of ego-maniacal cult-like crusade. I just don’t understand it. Nina Planck’s books are AWESOME. They are the perfect foot-in-the-door for people who are new to the idea that butter is good for you. And, frankly, they are refreshing and fun to read for those of us who’ve been butter converts for several years, too.
    I’d been considering resubscribing/rejoining the WAPF as soon as I had the cash, but I will NOT. I may join Price-Pottenger instead.

  15. I was surprised to read the review as well. I have not read the book so I didn’t think I could comment on it. I am glad that you gave the author time to comment on what seemed a surprisingly critical review. Certainly I think coming from the WAPF which Planck supports, this particular review must have felt very hurtful.

  16. Kelly,

    I think that it is going to be very important that you pass all of our comments on to the WAPF. They need to know what we are thinking, and perhaps this situation can be rectified.

  17. Honestly I am thankful for bloggers who don’t toe the WAPF party line, and do take some things they say (yes even SALLY!) with a huge grain of salt. So I personally really appreciate people like Nina Planck… after I read her books I was finally able to feel empowered to .some changes for the better in my diet that have been more long-lasting than what I did after my first reading of NT. I am also cautious about WAPF because of some of their breastfeeding info- I think that even without a perfect diet breastfeeding is better than formula feeding, and I don’t think that Sally’s “formula” is that accessible to many. (I defer to Kerry Ann Foster’s thoughts on this issue, she is better informed than me and has had contact with them re: breastfeeding info.)

  18. I love Nina Planck, and I think her books are wonderful. I am halfway through “Real Food for Mother & Baby” so I can’t comment on it yet but you can expect a book review on my blog in the near future. I will say that so far, I am very much enjoying the book. I even cried in one part, I felt so moved by what she wrote. (I’ll put it all in the book review!)

    Whether you agree with the book review or not, it’s important to remember that if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of Sally Fallon Morell and the WAPF, we — Nina Planck included — would not have much of this information about how critical saturated fat and cholesterol are to health, the dangers of eating unfermented soy and unsoaked grains/nuts/seeds, why raw milk and pastured dairy/eggs/meat is so good for us, etc. etc.

    If it weren’t for WAPF, most of us, wouldn’t even know about Dr. Weston Price. I certainly had never heard of him or his book, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”.

    When I first came upon the WAPF website, it literally transformed me and made me rethink my whole life. All the pieces came together for me for the first time. The more I read, the more curious I became, which made me read more, seek out the local chapter, etc. I ended up becoming a chapter leader and eventually founded Real Food Media and devoted my life and career to sharing this critical information with others.

    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. One book review we may not agree with should not influence a decision not to support this vital, ground-breaking organization which has given all of us so much and continues to help thousands of people on a daily basis. This is an organization that has the power to change the world is a major way.

    If you’re not currently a member of WAPF, why not? It’s $40 per year. Less than one Starbucks latte per month. Heck, you could probably find enough stuff in your garage for a yard sale and raise enough money to pay for a WAPF membership. If you don’t have money to donate, why not offer to volunteer?

    WAPF is doing so much to help spread the word — with their website, their conferences, all the mp3s and videos they put out there. And the work they are currently doing to fight the soy food in Illinois prisons is absolutely critical. They also do so much to help and empower sustainable farmers.

    I just can’t say enough about all they do.

    I think we should all be supporting the WAPF 100%. I also support Nina 100%, too, and will continue to read and enjoy and recommend her books. We’re all on the same team, here.

    • I like WAPF and all of their ideas. But I despise their web site, even if it is supposedly new and improved. It’s very difficult to find things even with the search feature, and if no one is going to bother to answer reader questions, they should not even bother with the comments section. Let people send emails directly to the web site or something which would have better success than a comment section no one from the foundation even bothers to read, half the time. I know they’re busy, but people are going to ask questions – that’s a given, or it should be. But it’s disheartening to see questions that have been there for 3 or 4 years with no answers. That’s not good press for them, actually.

      But I agree that their work is tremendously helpful and informative. I love the Wise Traditions Journal because I like to share it with friends, clients, family – whoever will listen! I can take the magazine and show them an article but if I give people a web site to go to, they rarely do it and are left uneducated to its values.

      I have read Nina’s books and enjoy them, and her style of presentation, very much. I’m way past having babies anymore but I read the one about real food for mom’s and babies because it interests me in my line of work, and I have an ever-growing family who I want to educate, as well. Nina does good work.

  19. I am also shocked by the review! I read Real Food for Mother and Baby about 5 months ago, and was delighted to find such a down-to-earth, well balanced approach to eating a traditional diet in the child bearing years. I thought Nina’s response was excellent, and it’s disappointing to read a negative review on a book that I feel has so much to offer to mothers who desire to eat better for themselves and their children.

    Still, I can’t say anything negative about WAPF. I have gained so, so, so much from their teaching and am grateful for all the work that they do. I’d love to see them rectify the situation and give Nina’s book a more favorable review.

  20. I was pretty flabbergasted reading the “thumbs down” review as well, and I thought it was really unfortunate, especially since Nina’s books provide a nice gateway for MANY people to be introduced to a whole food lifestyle. I enjoyed Nina’s books, and thought the review came down too hard – especially in regards to her c-section… I mean, c’mon…!

    I still love the WAPF, and I still support them, but it’s too bad they took that particular standpoint against someone who has always stood with them! I think they should definitely print her response in the next Wise Traditions, and possibly give an explanation for the highly negative review.

  21. I agree with Ann Marie, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Also, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen! When you write a book, you have to take the bad reviews along with the good reviews. That’s life! Also, the review on Nina’s book was simply a thumbs down. The lady who reviewed it didn’t say she didn’t like the book, it just didn’t pass on some very important issues. There are some areas where WPF will not budge in their standards.

  22. I have a question, as I have passed this article around on FB and other venues, and have had a question about a particular statement Nina makes.
    First, let me say that I am in agreement with Nina at most points. I actually WON the book from one the wonderful ladies helping promote it when it first came onto the market.
    ANYWAY, the statement that has come up for discussion is this:
    “Let me be clear about where I stand. I stand with Weston Price, in spirit (humanism) and substance (traditional foods).”
    What does Nina mean by using the term “humanism” in this context? I do not want to imply or impute anything, but to get her original meaning from the statement.
    Beyond that, power to ya, girl, to promote this lifestyle, especially in the context of pregnancy. It was AFTER I had MTLP, metabolic toxemia of late pregnancy, had an emergency c-sec with my 4th, that I discovered Dr. Tom Brewer, who, in my opinion, was applying WAP dietary principles, without having knowledge of WAP or his work. It was using his recommendations termed, “Blue Ribbon Baby” diet, that I applied, before having knowledge of WAP, to go on to have 2 more healthy pregnancies, which turned out to be VBAC water/home births.
    To be clear, I had three children healthy children vaginally prior to this.

    I would appreciate Nina responding, if possible. Thank you in advance.

  23. So I have been pretty much ignoring this issue in all the places I hang out on the web where it has come up, but I found Nina’s reply very interesting. Now I am motivated to read her book, the review, and all the comments that have been made on this issue elsewhere.

    To give this context, this seems to come up again and again with the WAPF. It isn’t just this one/i> book review but goes back several years and touches deeply on how a number of mothers perceive the WAPF (negatively) on the issue of birthing, breast feeding and infant nutrition. There is a ton of internet ink that has been spilled (some by me in different venues) and this is unfortunately just the latest volley.

    I was introduced to Weston Price looooooooooooooooong before there was any such animal as the Weston A Price Foundation. I was hanging out in California and drinking raw milk back when Alta Dena was America’s premier dairy and the owners, the Stueve Brother’s, not Mark McAfee, were the defender’s of raw milk and nutritional free choice. So while the WAPF is great, there are many places and resources these days to discover sound information on traditional nutrition.

    I can’t really comment on the specifics having not read the review or the book but it would be nice to see some written clarification from WAPF rather than risk offending yet another group of mothers who really do believe in the principles of Weston A Price but seem to take exception with the Foundation on certain ways the Foundation expresses those principles.

    At any rate I am certainly going to read all the material and blog about it, regardless of what conclusion I draw. It will probably run back to back with an article I am doing on infant nutrition that discusses when exactly is formula feeding appropriate.

    Nutrition and Physical Regeneration

  24. “It will probably run back to back with an article I am doing on infant nutrition that discusses when exactly is formula feeding appropriate. ”

    To clarify, do you mean the formula promoted by Sally, or formula feeding in general? That, as someone who does support the principles of WAPF and traditional foods, is the crux of the matter to me. I feel that probably Sally’s formula is fine if breastfeeding is not possible (and have read many endorsements) but in the end I strongly feel the evidence is that breast IS best, no matter what the mother’s diet is like (and in fact, if the mother is in a country where there is malnutrition, poverty and/or limited access to water or good milk sources, then it is even MORE important because babies die from being fed formula/denied breastmilk in many countries, when there are simply not the resources to formula feed in the way that we see moms do here in the US.)

    I just think that Sally really, really, really misses the boat with her breastfeeding info. Breastfeeding IS absolutely the traditional and best way to feed a baby. At the same time, not all moms can, but even then in a perfect world I’d say milk from another donor is the way to go… I say this because in my mind WAPF goes on a great deal about best and optimal nutrition and how you should really be eating, etc. That being said, I do realize that for most moms who can’t breastfeed or need to supplement, breastmilk from another source is hard/impossible to obtain, so a good alternative for commercial formula is nice to have, I guess…

  25. I can’t completely comment here, because I haven’t read the review. But, I do have problems with WAPF in general. I believe that WAPF has, in some cases, made the findings of Weston Price into dogma. I applaud their efforts especially with raw milk. But not everyone can, or wants, to follow the rules laid out in Nourishing Traditions. There are other aspects of eating traditional food. Rather than joining WAPF, I joined The Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
    I have read both Real Food and Real Food for Mothers and Babies and I think they are the best books out there (excepting for Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, but not many people take the time to read it) on real food. Like some of the traditional food blogs, especially this one, the books show how to eat good for you foods in the real world. I am too old to get pregnant, but Real Food for Mothers… is an excellent source of what nutrients the body needs and where to find them. I am sorry that WAPF (or at least that one reviewer) did not think her book toed the line.

  26. Hey everyone,

    I feel like I need to jump in and say that as shocked as I was by this book review, I didn’t look at it as a big negative toward WAPF in general – I only saw this as one reviewer and one issue that I disagreed on.

    As I said in the post above, that review made me feel as if one of my friends (WAPF) wasn’t so nice to another friend (Nina), but now I sort of feel like my “other friend” (WAPF) is taking a bit of a lashing here in the comments now, too.

    As Ann Marie said, remember that we’re all on the same team, even though we may not always agree on every single issue. I do think Nina’s book deserved a thumbs up, but it doesn’t change the fact that the WAPF changed my whole life! I’ll always be grateful to them for that, not to mention all the work they continue to do on behalf of us “Real Foodies”. :)


  27. Kelly,

    Thanks for bringing up this topic. I’m glad to see a lot of good discussion. I too was shocked to see the thumbs down review in Wise Traditions. As others have pointed out, there has been a lot of controversy about the WAPF take on pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding. I know at least one WAPF chapter leader who left WAPF over this subject alone, long before this book came out.

    I agree with Ann Marie that we need to take a larger perspective when viewing this subject. We may not all agree on every detail. But in my view what is expressed by WAPF is a guideline and many aspects are not really proven yet. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough good scientific research devoted to nutrition and diet. So, there will be differences in opinion on some matters that may not have clear solutions and this is common in any large group. But in my view the overall benefits of banding together as a group outweigh a few negatives of disagreement.

    So I will continue to support WAPF even though I don’t always agree with every detail. I don’t expect perfection from anyone or any group, including WAPF.

  28. I just wanted to comment on the breastfeeding/vegetarianism/crooked teeth thing that Cheeseslave mentioned. My first pregnancy I was vegetarian and during breastfeeding I was vegan ( I thought my daughter was allergic to milk and eggs so I omitted them). She ended up having cavities and failure to thrive which brought me to WAPF. Without WAPF and their very informative articles we would still be veggie. I just could not imagine killing animals for food. I looked at my daughter and saw how badly she was lacking on a veggie diet even while breastfeeding. She needed more nutrition that only animal food could provide.

    I breastfed exclusively without introducing solids until my daughter was ten months. She breastfed till she was 3.75 years old. We healed her cavities with WAPF nutrition and her teeth are very solid and strong.

    Her new adult teeth however are crooked.

    Not all vegetarian families come to see this truth. They much prefer to read John Robbins and the China Study. John Robbins has made some rebuttals on some of the WAPF articles and recommends high soy intake (up to 2-3 servings a day including processed soy). It all comes down to who you want to believe.

    But I see the difference in these children. My eyes analyze their teeth and I can see how well nourished the child is.

    My first daughter had tiny baby teeth. The dentist worried how well the adult teeth would come in. Her adult teeth are huge, strong and healthy but crooked. My veggie friends who have children (all breastfed and mainly organic foods) their kids have small teeth and crooked and have gaps in between teeth. I don’t know if they have cavities or not. I could also list many other symptoms of nutritional deficiencies that I see but we are talking about teeth here.

    From experience and how I see veggie kids teeth develop I have to agree with WAPF. If the formula recipe that they provide can produce straight and healthy teeth then that is the formula that babies thrive on.

    My exclusively breastfed baby did not thrive on veggie breastmilk. However I don’t think that I could have given up breastfeeding but rather supplemented with the homemade formula.

  29. I didn’t read the negative review, but I have to say that “Real Food for Mother and Baby” was a huge help to me. I read it at the beginning of my current pregnancy, when I was too sick and tired to do much of anything. (Throwing up everything you eat AND trying to chase your 2 & 3 year old doesn’t leave energy for much else!)

    Previously I’d been making some dietary changes from Nourishing Traditions, but at the time it was a struggle just to get dinner on the table, let alone make sure it met the NT standards. I was ready to toss it all out the window for a couple of months. Nina’s book was a breath of fresh air to me because it was full of things that I could practically implement during that crazy season of life rather than discouraging me with all of the things that I “had” to do if I wanted healthy children.

  30. kelly,
    Thank you for bringing up this very important topic. I am not a memberof WAPF but I devoured nourishing traditions and generally follow a traditional diet. I used to be a pepsi lover and cared very little about nutrition. Of course, that changes when you have young children (I have two) and it was Nina Planck and her book Real Food that got me started on the path of whole foods. I feel hurt for Nina and outraged that the reviewer (who I hope does not represent Sally and the foundation in general) would put out such a nit picky and self righteous review. I agree that Nina is not purist—she admits as much herself, but she is still very much on our side. The foundation would be foolish to alienate her. I am very dissappointed. I hope this misunderstanding (and lets hope that that is all this is) can be cleared up. I would really love to hear what Sally has to say on this.

  31. I loved the book. It gave me some great ideas for feeding my ten month-old (grated cheese + olive oil = yum!). Also, it’s just nice to read someone else’s experience. Nobody is perfectly conformable to any one mold. We’re all different, and life is just more fun that way. I’ve internalized the basic nutritional principles promoted by WAPF. I wasn’t going to be “led astray” by her casual approach. For me, it was just interesting to hear how another mom applied these traditional principles to her diet.

    Maybe this controversy will draw more attention to the book, and she’ll sell even more. Go, Nina!

  32. Ann Marie, the issue isn’t just this one review in regards to why so many nursing and natural birth mothers are leaving the foundation. The issue is the whole tone and approach the WAPF takes to anything involving pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding and the WAPFs bull-dogged pattern of ignoring, misconstruing and attacking people who don’t agree 100% on every little item. Instead of dialogue, the modus oparandi is to shut down any form of discourse and attack, attack, attack. This is just the latest in a very long line of assaults. I left the foundation over it, as have many other leaders. I started my own forum for those who are traditional foodists that practice natural parenting as an extension of their beliefs in response to the ‘what do we do now’s that I heard so much of during that time period.

    I no longer feel that the WAPF is worthy of support because the miss the boat is this area that is perhaps the most critical area of all. That combined with their inability to discourse and history of attacking and eating fellow traditional food supporters such as what has happened here with Nina and many others before her.

  33. Yes, Kerry Ann, that’s exactly the back story I should have included when I mentioned that this is the last straw for me.

    I have nothing against the foundation itself… I think most of the hard line comes from Sally. Don’t know that for sure, of course.

    I very much appreciate the light the foundation has shown on issues, and it seems to be catching on more and more, which is great. BUT… I really hope they finally notice how many people they are alienating with their uncompromising attitude.

  34. Thank you so much for posting Nina’s response. I, too was shocked at the authoritarian review of her book in Wise Traditions. I would like to caution WAPF that this is not the only place their rigidity has not served their cause, and lest they undermine all of their own phenomenal work – from which I have benefited stunningly – they are going to need to relax about the world around them. I suspect (and hope) this authoritarianism might really just be growing pains.

  35. Ironically, my next article to be posted on in the coming days is about how Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions saved my health. So I was devastated by the meanspirited review the Foundation gave Nina. I left a comment online at

    Here it is:

    I’m shocked and surprised that this foundation gave a thumbs down to Nina Planck, despite all the reasons you mentioned. You can bet that Nina’s cheerful assurances go a lot further to help “real” people transition to a healthier diet than detailed, confusing diatribes that even scientists can barely follow. There is not one SAD eater who will suddenly overnight adopt perfect nutrition and source every bite from the top farms. Intimidating sugar addicts or low fat advocates with “perfection” instead of reasonable change is not only unrealistic, but it does a disservice.

    Vegans can and will and do have children. It’s better for some to adopt some fish and meat, because NONE are going to “wait” many “years” to repair from the “nutritional wasteland.” Babies are born all the time the world over into imperfect circumstances and not even the Weston A. Price foundation can change that.

    I think this review was very meanspirited and elitist. The last thing Weston followers want is to become an elitist, disdainful cult like vegans, who spend all their time criticizing others who aren’t vegetarian enough. Vegans exclude the imperfect and refuse differences of priority and judge others constantly with their bizarre sense of morality. We should be the opposite, a support system to procure more information, change, and real food.

    Nina successfully brings better food to a wide audience, helping people adopt and grow new habits and thirst for new information. It’s incredibly small to discredit a whole book of enthusiastic life-changing information over her years as a vegan or store bought milk. In fact, I’ve never had the pleasure of buying raw milk since the only place I can get it in my area is by a long drive in a car, and I don’t believe in cars. In fact, I’m “team Paleo” and we don’t believe in eating grains at all, but we don’t shun either Sally Fallon or Nina Planck for encouraging whole grains soaked. After all, we don’t want people without access or money for meat to starve to death. My diet is imperfect, but since finding Sally’s cookbook the changes I’ve made have helped cure a whole host of autoimmune disorders, and I’m not going to obsess or cry over spilled milk.

  36. Hi Kelly. I’ve been poking around your site, looking for recommendations for supplements while pregnant and came across this post. I was so excited to first discover Nina Plank after the birth of my baby a little more than a year ago. She really did make eating “real” much less intimidating than Nourishing Traditions. Perhaps she simplified it too much and stepped on some toes in the process.

    Anyway, I’m taking Rainbow Light prenatals as we’d like to get pregnant again soon. I’ve got a pretty good diet as well and take fish oil. I’m guessing you’d recommend fermented cod liver oil instead? Any other supplements to take? Thanks!

  37. I just stumbled upon this post because I was doing some research on Nina Planck. When this web site popped up in my search list, I just had to read it. I have already read Real Food, and now I’m in the process of reading the Real Food for Mother and Baby. I also read the book review in the WT Journal (Fall 2009).

    I’m way past having any more kids, but I provide day care for infants, so I like to recommend good solid reading to my clients who are usually woefully misinformed about nutrition. I have one vegan client who is just sure she’s following the right path, but both of her babies were premature, had breathing difficulties and were in the NICU for weeks. Plus both were c-Section, which may or may not have to do with the vegan lifestyle. I don’t have direct knowledge of being a vegan so I don’t defend or criticize issues I know nothing about, personally. I do know that vegan or vegetarian or pescatarian, etc., is not for me and never was. I was raised a lot like Nina — whole real foods, meat raised on our farm (solely grassfed and hay in the winter), etc.

    As much as I respect WAPF and feel so grateful to them for all their teachings (although their web site is a complete disaster, even the new one is ridiculous to try to locate anything) I think they can be a bit myopic. I, too, would be a bit defensive of a “review” like the one Nina received.

    My first baby was breech and upside down. Believe me, it had nothing whatsoever to do with my diet or my general health. It was simply the way things were. My other two pregnancies were easy and delivery was simple with less than 2 hours labor and no drugs. Even with the first one I had only oxygen (until the stitching part). But I know the last thing I would have needed at that time was the stress of worrying about whether or not everything that went into my mouth would have passed the WAPF myopic purview. At that point, before WAPF even existed, I ate whatever my family and friends provided for the first 6 weeks after my daughter was born. Luckily my family and friends all ate pretty much the same, which was farm fresh healthy foods with the majority of dishes being homemade almost 99%. If I had lived in NYC instead of the country, I doubt this would have been the case, however.

    Nevertheless, as a new mom I knew a proper diet was necessary, but I would never have stressed myself if it wasn’t 100% perfect. No one should be made to feel that way, and the reviewer of Nina’s book IMPHO had a complete lapse of common sense. Not everyone can have perfection. Not everyone has friends and/or family to provide for us in times of need. Not everyone has access to purist foods. So, in a perfect world her review might have been worthwhile, but in our very imperfect world her review is seriously flawed and shortsighted.

    WAPF doesn’t lose any ground with me because of this one review, but possibly from now on the books should have two “reviewers” opinions – whether they agree or disagree or even if there’s one of each. It might provide a more balanced line of input.

  38. Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and detailed information you offer. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  39. I’m still pretty new to this and have been doing a lot of reading about nutrition. Reading “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes permanently changed my view on food which prompted me to change my diet which helped me lose 33lbs, so far, and has given me more energy than I’ve had a in a long time. More and more reading eventually lead me to information about paleo & primal diets and eventually lead me to WAPF information. There seems to be a lot of synergy between these nutritional approaches.

    However, my wife is quite stubborn and not much interested in making any significant lifestyle changes, she loves her honey covered shredded wheat. We are currently expecting our second child any day now and with Christmas right around the corner I wanted to get her a down to earth book about real food, something well rounded and not too dogmatic yet persuasive. After reading some Amazon reviews I decided to get her “Real Food for Mother and Baby”. Soon after placing my order I found the WAPF review. Shocked by the overly negative review I promptly canceled my order thinking this was not the book I was expecting it to be.

    Fortunately I kept reading what others said about the book and resent my order and plan to give it to my wife this Christmas. So after reading this thread I wanted to make the point that this WAPF review DOES matter and I was thankful for the comments by readers at the bottom of the thumbs down review page to help me reconsider. I think it would be beneficial for others to post comments under the WAPF review detailing their misgivings of the thumbs down review. It seems like I’m a part of a new wave of people looking for something beyond the current government guidelines and think it is important to have an inviting big tent ready for those of us that need some place to call home for nutritional advice.

    • Stubborn spouses can be really tough, especially with your wife being pregnant with your 2nd baby, and congratulations, by the way! I think the book you chose was perfect! :)

      Kelly p.s. Can you at least get her to eat plenty of whole milk, local farm eggs, pastured meats, and BUTTER?! This will help to build your baby’s brain until you can hook her onto some of the more hard-sells like cod liver oil, raw milk, etc.

      • Thanks for the reply Kelly,

        For most of the last half of the pregnancy I’ve been able to get her to eat either pastured eggs or organic Omega-3 eggs most mornings. She’s also been receptive to using grass-fed butter and stopping with the fake butter. She dutifully takes her prenatal vitamin that includes fish oil and she has about a can of tuna a week. We’ve been eating more beef and lamb, mostly grass-fed, however money is becoming an issue so this may be harder to come by in the future. I’ve also made bone broth from chicken and beef bones.

        Unfortunately she still drinks her Lactaid, nonfat, calcium fortified milk with her shredded wheat and has no qualms about eating pizza when she is out with her moms group. She also likes her nonfat yoplait flavored yogurt.

        I’ve started giving my 2.5yo son cod-liver oil. We’re finishing up our Nordic Naturals brand and have the Blue Ice FCLO/butter oil in the mail.

        My wife’s the one who loves to cook and bake but in order for me to ensure we eat better quality food I’ve had to really step in and take over. She’s pregnant so she doesn’t mind that part :-)

        Small steps are all I can hope for!

  40. Thanks, Kelly, for publishing this letter. Heaven help us if we have to start “Lying” to fit in a pre-prescribed way of being in order to “prove” a point. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes there are reasons or no reasons for a c-section. Ms. Planck doesn’t need to walk on eggs in this fabulous circle of love, health and joy!!

    Hats off to you, Kelly…for keeping things open and for keeping both sides of the communication exposed. Things get dropped through the cracks…I suspect things are never as contradictory as they seem and that Ms. Nina has abundant followers as does the WPFoundation.

    Hugs….we’re all in this together.
    Karen in CA

  41. I realize this is an old post, but I still want to comment. I appreciate the info the WAPF distributes, and for the past year, have been working to change my family’s diet in accordance with the principles they promote. However I have been VERY put-off by their smug, antagonistic, all-or-nothing, know-it-all attitude. I cannot believe that they would go so far as to make these judgement about this women. (I haven’t even read her book!) This is the sort of thing that makes me hesitant to recommend them as a resource to friends. It is unconscionable.

    • Yeah, I didn’t agree with this either way back when, but as I said in a comment above, I just see it as one mistake on the part of the WAPF. No person or organization will get everything right all of the time. When you say that the WAPF has a “smug, antagonistic, all-or-nothing, know-it-all attitude”, you have to remember that in cases like this one, it was just one reviewer, and not let it reflect on the WAPF as a whole or let it cloud all the other good that they do. Know what I mean?


      • I replied in the wrong place :) PS: I so think there are many bloggers who are doing a great job at winsomely sharing WAPF eating principles and many local chapter leaders who are good a reaching out to those with differing views rather than simply crying “You’re wrong and I’m right!” My beef is mainly with the leadership of the foundation itself.

  42. I didn’t expect a response. Thanks :) You’re right this is just one reviewer, but I see this attitude in many spokespeople for the WAPF. The review of Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” is similarly caustic. Frankly, if I had not read Pollan’s book before I found the WAPF, I would not have listened to a thing they said because they are so extreme and make no attempt at (diplomatically) bridging the gap between mainstream thought about healthy food and their opinions. We desperately need writers people like Michael Pollan who can speak to average people who are not in this niche community if we ever expect to really change our food production system and the health of our country.

  43. I notice that the review on the WAPF website no longer includes Nina’s reply in the comments section. It would be very disappointing indeed if that decision was made by WAPF staff, and not Nina herself (I notice other reviews still have their comments intact).

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