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The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children [Paperback]

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Item Number 444790  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   331
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 27, 2007
Publisher   Tarcher
Age  18
ISBN  1585426261  
EAN  9781585426263  

Availability  6 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 06:10.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
Argues that American food manufacturers are developing products that have a detrimental affect on human brain power and identifies a relationship between prepared foods and illness.

Publishers Description
An unprecedented and impeccably reported look at how American food manufacturers and their "products" may be endangering our minds.
With obesity becoming one of the fastest-growing worldwide epidemics, and manufactured food fueling that trend, "The Crazy Makers" is timelier than ever. This updated edition includes a new chapter on autism, as well as revised material that illustrates just how much the industry has changed in a few short years.
Based on extensive research, epidemiological evidence, and a formal study of schoolchildren's eating habits, "The Crazy Makers" identifies how the latest food products may be literally driving us crazy. Carol Simontacchi offers the reader nutritional primers and recipes to help counteract the problems facing us and our children every time we sit down to eat.

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More About Carol Simontacchi

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Carol Simontacchi obtained her certification as a clinical nutritionist through the Clinical Nutritionist Certification Board, and is a professional member of the International and American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists, and has served as the president of the Society of Certified Nutritionists and remains active in that organization. She has conducted training courses and has written numerous books, including the bestselling "Your Fat Is Not Your Fault,"

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great eye opener  Aug 11, 2008
Great book! It gives a lot of information about what foods are making us sick and what foods to eat to be healthy.
Interesting...but Ultimately Depressing  Jun 29, 2008
You know, this book isn't at all what I was expecting...I rather got the idea in my head that this was another book like Fast Food Nation, and to some extent it was. This book was really about feeding yourself (as a potential parent) and your children the best foods and discussing the damage done by improper eating on unborn children and then on what we feed our infants and children as they grow up. This book succeeded where none has before in making me feel like the worse parent ever for not breastfeeding any of my children and for feeding them both formula and baby foods (I did make some of my own of those, but I also liberally used jars of Gerber)...I also have fed my kids lunchables, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and all the other myriad of foods that this book says are liable to impair my children's brain development. According to Simontacchi, I have, without even really trying, set my kids up for emotional problems as kids and teens and for other larger problems as they grow into adulthood...and none of them can be corrected at this point. This book was a real eye opener in that regard, I see where it is coming from, but at the same time, this book puts a foul taste in my mouth because it smacks of that same "woman as a potential womb" at all times until she is no longer able to conceive children, and that combined with the four or five chapter long constant trouncing of my choices for food for my children...I came out of the feeling like the scum of the earth as a parent.

There was a lot of good info in the book, so I am glad that I read it and I would recommend it, especially to those women (and men) who are actively trying to have children. The advice, I feel, is solid...I just don't enjoy feeling like I've done nothing but mess up royally and there is very little I can do to "fix it." It was a little depressing, especially given that some of the NEVER eat foods are foods my mom grew up feeding me. There were no lunchables when I was a kid, but my mom loathed cooking and I grew up on boxed food like Hamburger Helper, Mac & Cheese, and any other box type meal that needed minimal things added to make a meal. I can see some of my own "problems" in the book and see that diet as a child, teen and early adult contributed to it. At this point, all I can do is take the message to heart and work to make the rest of my kids childhood more nutritional.
Taken with a grain of salt, it's a must read!  Jun 16, 2008
I had heard two different radio interviews with the author and have kept an eye open for this book ever since. I'm surprised a 2nd Edition has not been released. Some of the opinions may seem radical but with so many physical and mental health problems that have no popular answers, it's good to look at some of the alternative views, and this book has them! From an increase rise in fatal food allegies like peanuts, latex, etc. to the rise in violence and poor decision making, all changes in the world must be looked at and why not start with our diet?
I would like to know what the auther has learned since the book's publication and how has the scientific community reacted to this book but other than that, I give this four stars as a must read.
Questionable credibility, disappointing book  Jun 10, 2008
The premise of this book is that the standard Western diet, full of processed food and lacking in nutrition, has a negative effect on mental health. I found it an interesting hypothesis and was looking forward to learning about the evidence that would support it. Unfortunately, I found the book so terrible that I gave up reading it after the introduction and the first chapter.

The book was not as well-referenced as I would have liked. There were many statistics (mostly quite negative, to prove the point that Americans are screwed up and their lives suck), but not all were clearly referenced. Some were misleading, such as a statistic from 1981 that was discussed as if it represented the current situation, although the book was copyright 2000. Other statistics seemed like they could be misleading also; I would have to check the original sources before trusting them.

There were a few religious references, nothing that I found objectionable, but I am cautious when people start talking about religion because some religious people are not very strong in their science.

The author mentioned that in her clients' food diaries, "It was not uncommon to see a seven-day food diary containing twenty-one meals with almost no vegetables, no fruit, no protein, and no water." The "no protein" comment puzzles me, as it's my understanding that most Americans get way more protein than they need.

While flipping to look at the endnotes, I saw a "healthy" recipe in the back for cream puffs that included butter, eggs, and general-purpose flour. Those don't register as particularly healthy ingredients to me.

In the endnotes, I saw a reference to a telephone conversation with Sally Fallon, the president and treasurer of the Weston A. Price Foundation. This organization discourages processed foods and believes that animal fat is necessary for good health. I agree with them in giving the thumbs-down to processed foods, but the evidence I've seen has convinced me that animal-based foods are not only unnecessary but harmful to human health. Thus, seeing a reference to Sally Fallon makes me a little suspicious about the author's conclusions.

The "About the Author" information said that Carol Simontacchi was "currently pursing her Ph.D. in Brain Nutrition from the Union Institute." I looked up the Union Institute (I'd never heard of it before). Currently, Interdisciplinary Studies is the only Ph.D. they offer, with a concentration in Ethical and Creative Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues, or Humanities and Society. None of those are even in science, no less something as specialized as Brain Nutrition. A quick internet search turned up a bio of Carol Simontacchi related to her appearance as a guest on a radio show on December 29, 2007. It says she earned a Master of Science from Columbia Pacific University (another school I've never heard of) and doesn't mention anything about a Ph.D.

There might well be some good information in this book, but I had so many concerns about the credibility of the author and the evidence presented that I was not comfortable accepting the information. I decided it wasn't worth my time to read the rest of the book.

Enough to Drive Anyone Crazy  Apr 3, 2008
A review of The Crazy Makers, How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children, by Carol Simontacchi

By Gregory Ziegler
Professor of Food Science
Penn State University

Rational thought is not what you will find in The Crazy Makers, How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children, by Carol Simontacchi. Instead, what you will read is a quasi-scientific, religious polemic against "food manufacturing." The book's thesis statement is that "diet is the one major change in our culture over the past century that has altered the physical state of our brains and, therefore, altered the state of our minds."

The religious nature of the book is evident from the very beginning, where in the Acknowledgements Ms. Simontacchi thanks most of all her "Heavenly Father, who designed the most wonderful food, perfectly suited to nourishing our brains and our spirits. We have turned aside from Your providence and tried to manufacture our own. How foolish of us."

I must come clean. I am the Director of Penn State's Center for Food Manufacturing, and some would consider me a shill for the "food industry." However, my critique of this book should not be construed as a defense of food manufacturers, but as a guide to those who would like to separate rational thought from opinion.

Though a "board-certified clinical nutritionist," Simontacchi apparently does not know that neither cholesterol nor phosphatidylserine are fatty acids, that glutathione is not an amino acid, or that phytic acid is not a protein. Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid building block of proteins. Non-essential means that while we need glutamic acid to build proteins, our body can make its own and, therefore, it is not required in the diet. Mono sodium glutamate is the sodium salt of this amino acid. Simontacchi refers to MSG as an excitotoxin, and writes that "glutamate, is embedded in other ingredients commonly added to baby food," but fails to inform the reader that these other ingredients are proteins or that glutamic acid is by far the most common amino acid in human milk casein.

Is glutamate natural asks Simontacchi. As natural as mother's milk. Might it be harmful in excess? Yes it might. But the idea that something natural may also be toxic goes against Simontacchi's basic assumption of "natural goodness." In the lead-in to chapter 6 Simontacchi quotes Isaiah 55:2, "Why do you spend money for what is not bread." Yet the gluten proteins of bread are about 35% glutamic acid (in the form of glutamine), and says Simontacchi, "[G]rain allergies are one of the most common sources of depression." (More on bread later.)

Glutamic acid is heralded as "brain food" in the chapter "Feeding the Autistic Brain."

While appearing scientific in approach, Simontacchi shows obvious distain for proper scientific methods. She states emphatically that the "influence of a high-sugar diet on brain chemistry is enormous," despite the fact that contradictory "meta-analyses" of the research on the issue were published in both the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of the American Medical Association. She refers to these meta-analyses simply as "a review article," and then presumes to "balance" the argument by quoting an article from the South African Medical Journal. The title of the article she uses to assert the effect of sugar on behavior - "Is butter bad for you?" But then she has already warned us not to believe the experts, and "that virtually everything written about nutrition in the mainstream press is wrong." Does sugar affect the brain? Forget science, "just ask Miss Redman or any schoolteacher. Ask mom."

The section "The Current State of Our Minds" appears to be a litany of Ms. Simontacchi's greatest fears and anxieties. Much of what is written is unsupported by data. She quotes Harvard Medical School professor Ronald Kessler as saying, "The trends are sufficiently impressive to fuel speculation that upward trends in mental illness might exist," [emphases mine] and then follows that with the statement "[W]ithin our current mental health epidemic." How did a speculation of what might be end up an epidemic?

Even when the data contradict her assertions - "[R]ates of violence seem to be easing off" - Simontacchi persists in spinning it to meet her expectations - "But the U.S. surgeon general is not letting his guard down." "Even more bleakly," violent tendencies have not lessened over the past fifteen years (nor have they apparently increased), and arrests for aggravated assault "declined only slightly." Definitely a glass-is-half-empty perspective. "Skyrocketing," "growing trend," "taking on major proportions" and "growing numbers" are all phrases used to hype the problems without substantiating data. Simontacchi cites little primary scientific literature, relying instead on secondary references, many of which are not credible.

Simontacchi's lack of scientific integrity is demonstrated when she cites the "Pottenger" study as evidence of the harmful effects of milk pasteurization. Dr. Pottenger's cats became ill due to a lack of the amino acid taurine, which resulted from too little meat in their diets. Simontacchi fails to tell the reader that cats fed on raw milk only fared worse than those on a combination of meat and pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a mild heat treatment intended to destroy the living cells of potential human pathogens. Along with improvements in hygiene, milk pasteurization probably did as much as anything to improve human health in the 20th Century.

While condemning pasteurized milk as a "highly processed dairy food," Simontacchi seems to encourage the consumption of tofu, despite the fact that many more steps are required to manufacture tofu from soybeans. These steps include heating to temperatures well in excess of those required for milk pasteurization. Furthermore, tofu contains the same phytoestrogens that Simontacchi says make soy-based infant formula even worse than milk-based products. And the magnesium in tofu? Magnesium chloride, technically a food additive.

This begs the questions, what is "processed" food, and why are "manufactured" foods "chilling." Does cooking a meal at home in a manner similar to pasteurization result in a "highly processed" food? Manufacturing simply means to be made from raw materials by hand or by machine, so a home baker is by definition a manufacturer. The Eucharist is a manufactured food, bread does not exist in Nature, and so is the "protein breakfast drink" (likely loaded with glutamic acid) that Simontacchi suggests for the adolescent breakfast.

Like similar polemics on the topic, the book is replete with nostalgia for a bygone era when we all just picked food fresh from our backyard Eden and is heavily laden with inflammatory language, but adds an evangelistic tone. "The epidemic of autism is just one facet of a nation that has lost its moral way." Simontacchi dismisses reports by the Centers for Disease Control and the Institutes of Medicine finding no link between mercury in vaccines and autism*, insisting that it's a matter of "common sense."

So what's the harm in Ms. Simontacchi dismissing the best science and expressing her opinion? It diverts our attention from investigating other more likely causes of our problems. For example, while Simontacchi does mention in passing that physicians often recommend a strict gluten-free and casein-free diet for autistic children, she never discusses the potential relationship between autism and Celiac's disease. Could it be that she can't imagine such a thing could be caused by whole grains, one of God's most wonderful foods?

Nutritionists like Simontacchi once told us to substitute margarine for Mother Nature's butter, a recommendation we have now come to regret. Now they are telling us to eat lots of whole grain. "Whom are we to believe?"

* Since 2001, with the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, mercury-containing thimerosal is not used as a preservative in routinely recommended childhood vaccines.

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