Ms. Webber

THE CHINA STUDY

No single piece of scientific literature has ever had as profound an effect on me as that of The China Study.  Having dedicated the majority of my adult life to biological education, exploring the most controversial and ground-breaking scientific research has become a common past-time.  Perhaps what struck me most about this particular book is that its effects are equally as profound to a reader well-versed in scientific terminology as to one whose scientific education came to an abrupt stop after grade 10.  I have found myself sharing this book with my friends and colleagues as well as sending copies of it to my family out east.  When research careers are dependent upon sponsorship and grant approval, money that is often provided by industry powerhouses, it is rare in the scientific community to come across research that challenges everything that is status quo, and in the case of The China Study, everything that is status quo about nutrition.  Over a career spanning five decades Dr. T. Colin Campbell has attempted just this and has been challenged every step of the way.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell is credited as being the director of the longest and most comprehensive scientific study ever conducted on the link between nutrition and disease – The China Study.  This study began in 1983 and is still ongoing.  The study brings forth the idea of “Diseases of Affluence”, namely heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer, including breast, liver and colon.  Dr. Campbell puts forth the radical idea that we have the power through “Plant-Based Nutrition” to combat and even reverse such diseases in the Western World by simply changing the way we eat.  However, these aren’t the notions of folklore or alternative medicine, but rather hypotheses that are supported by highly statistically significant, well founded scientific research.  The data gathered reveals a shocking comparison between disease and nutrition in the United States, where animal protein consumption far exceeds most nations, to that in rural China, where plant based nutrition is the foundation of their diet.  Remarkably rural China reveals almost an absence of “Diseases of Affluence”.

Dr. Campbell also provides the reader with an inside look at the role that the dairy and meat industries play in establishing public health guidelines for nutrition.  Having sat on numerous government and expert panels that have helped shape national and international diet recommendations worldwide, Dr. Campbell has observed first hand the power that such industries hold.  Your CANNOT read this book and not make a change in your life!  Prepare to be alarmed and have your eyes opened.  If anything, even if you are not convinced by the over-whelming scientific evidence, you will certainly be intrigued and want to learn more.

 

THE HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY

Yes, this book is written for teenagers.  Am I teenager?  Well no, and I haven’t been for quite some time, however, my 15 year-old niece harassed me into reading these books and given that her last recommendation was the Twilight Saga, to say I was hesitant would be an understatement, (sorry Twilight fans, I got stuck halfway through book 2).  For the record, I stand corrected.  This trilogy was amazing!  I kept thinking, “Why didn’t they write stuff like this when I was 15?”  Having blown through the first book in 1 day, it was no surprise that I finished the whole trilogy in under a week.  The books have a little something for everyone and hence a wide ranging age appeal.

The story is based in a somewhat post-apocalyptic Earth where humans live in 12 districts and are ruled by the iron fist of the capital, which asserts it power over them every year via The Hunger Games.  In these games a male and female teen from each district are sent to some imaginatively awful arena, constructed by the capital, where they compete until the death, and only one individual remains.  Gruesome hey?  It gets worse.  The entire slaughter is televised and the people of the districts are forced to watch their representative children die one by one to serve as a reminder that the districts are under the control of the capital and that any attempt at rebellion would result in a fate similar to that of the abolished District 13 (quite mysterious).

The story follows a young woman, Catniss, and a young man, Peeta, the representatives of District 12 in their quest for survival.  However, it becomes much more than that.  Riddled with suspense and intrigue, the characters begin to learn far more than they anticipated as they attempt to play this game.  They find themselves at the forefront of the growing unrest in the districts and must look inside to find the strength of character that is demanded of them.  Can these two teens possibly be the spark needed to light the fire in the districts and win back the freedom of everyone?

Of course, any good story, teen stories especially, would be lacking if there wasn’t some sort of romantic triangle to add further conflict to an already impossible situation.  However, what I love about The Hunger Games is that this storyline initially is not at the forefront.  The emotional struggle that exists between Peeta, Catniss and her long time friend Gale develops gradually over the course of the three books, leaving you the reader to constantly change your opinion about what choice Catniss should make, perhaps eventually feeling as though no choice would really satisfy everything you wanted for the characters.

So there it is.  I read a teen book, that albeit was cheesy at times, it kept me fully engaged from cover to cover the whole time thinking, “This is the stuff that makes kids read”!  So who cares if I didn’t learn some deep, profound life lesson at the end, I was greatly entertained and am shamefully excited about the upcoming movie!

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