Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Dec

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook Receives Illustrious Award

I am pleased to report that the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has just listed my very own “The Primal Blueprint Cookbook” as one of the five worst (most unhealthy) cookbooks of 2010, along with cookbooks by Gordon Ramsay, Barefoot Contessa, Trisha Yearwood and the creators of Top Chef. Why am I glad to be the author of one of the worst cookbooks of the year, you might be wondering? Look who’s giving out the award. None other than the PCRM, home of such vaunted nutritional giants as Fuhrman, McDougall, Esselstyn, Barnard, and T. Colin Campbell and a celebrated bastion of vegan propagandists. This is Bizarro food world, guys, where “unhealthy” means “healthy” and “desiccated wheat grass smegma” means “grass-fed butter.” The PCRM official “New Four Food Groups,” for example, consist of whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. (Sugar’s still sugar, though.) Even the American Council on Science and Health nailed these guys for “emphasizing only data that support their [vegan] agenda” and “exaggerating the reliability and importance of such data.” They’re described as a “subtle” PETA who mistakes statistical significance for biological significance. With detractors like these, who needs supporters? If these guys are against your dietary recommendations, you’re probably doing something right, so I’m going to take this one as a win.

You know, I never expected to garner such acclaim, so I was completely taken aback by the deluge of press releases and coverage announcing my award that popped up on my feed. Those scoundrels didn’t even warn me I was about to win such an esteemed award. They just dropped it on me. Heck, they’re lucky I didn’t drop dead from a heart attack from the shock given all that atherosclerotic plaque that’s no doubt welling up inside!

Jokes aside, this tells me that we still have a lot of work to do. This exposure’s great, but where’s the Physicians Committee for Ancestral Medicine (hey, coming soon, maybe, actually) making press releases about the five most dangerous low-fat cookbooks? Why isn’t Bill Clinton toting a dog-eared copy of “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” onto talk shows, instead of following the advice of Dean Ornish? Where’s my spot on Oprah? Why doesn’t Robb Wolf have a show opposite Dr. Oz? People need to know this stuff. They need to know that butter maybe isn’t so decadent, or that maybe decadent isn’t even really a bad word. (As Susan Levin (nutrition education direction for PCRM and the woman responsible for the “New Four Food Groups”), admits, one of the reasons so many cookbooks have gone to this “unhealthy” extreme is that a lot of these recipes taste great. Point being, if it tastes great, it can’t possibly be good for you. Now go eat your porridge…)

This also tells me that we’re getting work done without the support of the experts. Heck, we’re getting things done despite rancor from some of the experts. Yeah, we may not be carried by Whole Foods in the check out section and vegetarian is still synonymous with healthy for most people, but things are changing. I can tell because I have to hit the farmers’ market an hour earlier than I used to if I want to stock up on pastured beef liver and soup bones, and because the success stories keep coming in week after week. I can tell because with nothing but the support of the Primal community and virtually no other publicity we’re atop the Amazon Low-Carb top seller list and listed with giants like Ramsay in this recent award. I can tell because blog traffic grows each month and because major media outlets are finally reporting on things we’ve been saying for years. Bottom line: if Primal/paleo is on their expansive radar, I take it as a good sign.

As they say, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” For every borderline vegetarian who reads the press release and mentally crosses me off their to-read list, several others will see me aligned with the likes of the Barefoot Contessa (who, you know, makes the most delectable delicious foods and I do like watching that show of hers) and Gordon Ramsay (who’s got the tough exterior going but it’s just a cover for his gooey baked brie center), and before you know it they’re checking out the PB cookbook, buying it, making some recipes, losing some weight, and getting interested in the rest of this stuff. They end up with all the back episodes of Robb’s podcast on their iPod, a Google reader feed full of Primal blogs, a triple-digit reputation on Paleohacks, and the tendency to annoy their friends with anti-grain talk. Even if just one ailing citizen gets exposed to the Primal Blueprint thanks to the PRCM singling out the PB cookbook, I’m happy, because that’s another person with a better chance to take control of their health and turn their life around.

There are numerous fun quotes from the press coverage. I’ll leave you with one of my favorites from NY Daily News: “Finally there’s a cookbook that, according to the doctors, ‘sets back evidence-based nutrition nearly 2 million years.’ It’s called ‘The Primal Blueprint’ cookbook and includes ‘an entire section of cholesterol-laden recipes for offal – entrails and internal organs.'” Indeed.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. a badge of honor!
    congratulations :)

    oscar wrote on December 21st, 2010
  2. HILARIOUS!!! Because so many of your readers have had such terrible results with recipes like those in the cookbook.

    Chuck P wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Yeah, I gained 47 pounds and have no energy at all!! *sarcasm* I’ve been eating primal for a few days, I haven’t noticed any lost weight (I don’t have a scale) but I feel great. Quite energetic.

      William wrote on December 22nd, 2010
      • What?!!

        Charles wrote on April 27th, 2011
  3. Seriously?! They say the cookbook sets back “evidence-based” nutrition 2 million years? It shocks me that these people are allowed to call themselves physicians.

    Adam W wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • They aren’t – the CCF states that only 10% of their membership are physicicians. They are also closely linked with PETA and appear to have a similar agenda, though they do approach it from the angle of “discrediting” animal foods.

      Tim wrote on December 23rd, 2010
    • MacDougall and Barnard are vegan fanatics; Fuhrman does grudgingly allow a maybe 2 oz portion of fish or meat occasionally. When I read Barnard’s book, he admitted to having smoked even AFTER he finished medical school. Pardon me, but I am highly disinclined to take health advice from anyone over the age of 75-80 who has ever smoked (respiratory therapist here).

      shrimp4me wrote on October 14th, 2013
  4. Wow…2 billion years…that’s a long time. What evidence-based nutrition are they talking about? The “evidence” that eating saturated fat gives you heart disease? Or the “evidence” that eating refined carbohydrates doesn’t cause diabetes?

    It’s such a great cookbook!

    AllieNic wrote on December 21st, 2010
  5. Congrats Mark!

    Paleohund wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Hahaha this!


      Carl wrote on December 21st, 2010
  6. Congrats Mark, I also love Ina Garten (one of my favourite cooks on food network) and Gordon Ramsey 😀 You have earned a very special spot indeed!

    Carly wrote on December 21st, 2010
  7. Congrats Mark, looking forward to buying one of the worst cookbooks out there.

    Chris wrote on December 21st, 2010
  8. Numerous MDA readers have alerted me of this award. Across the board the alert is accompanied by a success story. Here’s one from reader Matt…

    Thought it was interesting that your book made the list.,0,7184984.column

    Apparently they didn’t do case studies, because since going primal in July, I’m down 50 lbs of fat, and have gained 15 lbs of lean muscle. Sometimes “conventional wisdom” and “what is good for you” is dead wrong.

    Having my first child in June made me realize I wanted to stick around for a while. Thanks to you, I’ll be able to do that.

    Mark Sisson wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • “Of course, something with tons of fat and tons of butter and sugar are going to be appealing to the tastebuds,” she says. “And all of these cookbooks use all of that stuff. To me it’s like cheating.”

      Levin apparently didn’t actually read the Primal cookbook, otherwise she would have known that sugar is not a primary ingredient, nor is it used in quantities that constitute “tons”.

      Laurie wrote on December 22nd, 2010
    • It appears that almost nobody knows about
      the comprehensive study of Dr. Mario Martinez, a world famous psychoneuroimmunologist. Mario studied centenarians around the world and he found that every one of them was NOT a vegan.

      Dr. Fizzicks wrote on April 5th, 2012
  9. Here’s another from reader Colin:

    You may have already seen this but just in case you haven’t…

    Congratulations you are ranked with Ina Garten and Ramsey! I have both your books and have been following the primal lifestyle for a few months now and have gone from 192 to 171lbs in that short time. Probably in the best shape of my life at 41 so hopefully next year you can shoot for #1 with another ‘unhealthy’ book.

    Many thanks and Happy Holidays

    Mark Sisson wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • This article leaves Mark standing accused of using ‘tons of butter and sugar’. Seems they may conveniently confused on some aspects of the Primal Cookbook. And apparently tasting good is synonomous with ‘cheating’. That’s bonkers! Using guilt to control the general population is just plain wrong.

      Dino Babe wrote on December 21st, 2010
      • …and the foundation of most major religions, INCLUDING veganism.

        Ely wrote on December 22nd, 2010
        • Glad I’m Pagan. No control, no guilt! Not conventional.

          KettlebellWitch wrote on December 22nd, 2010
    • Actually, the criticism of PB was that “The book includes ‘an entire section of cholesterol-laden recipes for offal – entrails and internal organs’.
      Cholesterol-laden. Offal and internal organs are also vitamin and mineral laden, but nevermind THAT. And if you have recipes for entrails, which are intestines if I’m not mistaken, that IS disgusting.
      The criticisms of the doughnut and tater tot recipes, I get. But I think any columnist who wasn’t just regurgitating a press release, and read the cookbooks in question, would wonder what the problem was with PB. Its a pretty moderate, healthy, vegetable and healthy fats approach. And Gordon ramsay’s pheasant with bacon and cream sounds delicious! I might have to check that one out!

      fitmom wrote on December 21st, 2010
      • Yumm, organs are great! I did read that as a criticism, but was happy to ignore Susan Levin’s blatant disregard for respectfully consuming the entire beast. I was just a little shocked by the final paragraph:

        ‘Of course, something with tons of fat and tons of butter and sugar are going to be appealing to the tastebuds’, she said. ‘And ALL OF THESE COOKBOOKS use ALL of that stuff. To me it’s like cheating’.

        Which, implies all five cookbooks use tons of sugar(Ick!).


        Dino Babe wrote on December 21st, 2010
      • You think intestines are disgusting? Uh, what about sausage? Actually, I had a meal of goose intestines once. Looked like pasta, consistency of squid and tasted like the delicious herb & butter mushroom sauce they were bathed in. Totally Paleo, too. In Grok’s world, nothing was wasted…every calorie counted.

        Sandra wrote on December 23rd, 2010
  10. You just couldn’t make it up could you!

    Kelda wrote on December 21st, 2010
  11. Any comments on these lines?

    “In 2010, studies linked meat-heavy diets to increased diabetes risk, weight gain, decreased bone health, and increased bladder cancer risk, among other health problems.”

    “But a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that a low-carbohydrate diet based on animal food sources increases mortality risk from all causes, including cancer and heart disease.”

    John wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • As I have reversed my Type 2 diabetes, dropped 90+ pounds while increasing LBM, lowered my cholesterol and heart disease markers, decreased diabetes-related kidney disease markers, among a thousand other benefits, I can definitively say, at least for me, this is bunk. Pastured-animal sources shouldn’t be lumped in with conventional meat. Not even close. PB is the penultimate in healthy tomes & lifestyles. :)

      Melissa Fritcher wrote on December 21st, 2010
      • I eat primally myself. I was wondering if anyone knew which studies where being referenced and how they were carried out or what the flaws might be.

        PS Penultimate means next to last, not very best.

        John wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Likewise, I’ve dropped over 100 pounds, gone from a 68+ waist to a 48-inch (and shrinking) waist, brought my diabetes under control solely through diet, minimized and/or eliminated my arthritis and migraines and IBS, and my cholesterol levels shock my doctors with how good they are.

      Griff wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Couple of things. 1st off, those are epidemiological studies, and it is effectively impossible to study diet using epidemiology (so says my very mainstream epidemiology prof). Even if you think it is possible, I would still be skeptical until I read through the actual study. There’s a lot of ways these things can go wrong, and its generally impossible to know from a news story. Also, who are the researchers? Generally, people end up confirming their biases, whether in design or interpretation. I still have yet to find any example of a good study that shows any problem with eating meat at any level.
      Then, there’s the anecdotal evidence. I don’t know anyone, not one single person, as in I have never met….. anyone who has ever consistently lost weight while eating a conventional wisdom type diet. I know of a couple of people who have lost weight eating “moderate” diets, when that has included not eating refined sugar, but even those are few. Everyone I know (yes, everyone, really) who has tried anything akin to a primal diet (low carb, no carb, paleo, etc) has lost fat.
      Finally, all of those studies are almost certainly based around industrial meat. While I have no hard evidence of this, I would expect industrial meat to have less benefit, if not even detriment on some level, when compared to pastured meat. I do have data on the makeup of the different meats, but any judgements on that make the assumption that we know what is important in the meat. And we don’t.

      Its also noteworthy that I keep coming across papers that read to the effect of “X Animal fat not as bad as we thought.”

      Blakery wrote on December 21st, 2010
      • To me, this is the really important point. Almost everybody who tries a diet like Mark’s feels and looks better (usually A LOT better) and also improves their scores on medical tests. So, what more is there to say? How can these very complicated and questionable nutritional studies out-weight the undeniable, plain-as-day, irrefutable experiences of thousands of people?

        Matt wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Now that I’m thinking about it, I might remember one or more of those studies. There was a meta analysis recently that went over a number of studies that claimed that meat was unhealthy. They found that if you stratified for processed meat, the correlation went away for the unprocessed meat, but intensified for the processed. Just one example of how this stuff often works out. And I don’t think anyone is advocating Oscar Meyer lunch meats (especially since they typically contain HFCS and dextrose).

      Blakery wrote on December 21st, 2010
  12. I used to be vegetarian, and vegan for a year or so. I’m a sugar addict with a strong family history of diabetes and heart disease. I struggled with all of the no-fat, tons of starch plans like Ornish and MacDougall. I only gained weight and suffered through chronic cardio with little to no results.

    Less than four months of PB and I’m leaner than I’ve been in years. I’ve been lifting weights and CrossFitting, and I’m determined to not be diabetic. So far I’ve been a lot happier, calmer, and have lost almost two dress sizes.

    Andrea wrote on December 21st, 2010
  13. Now there’s an idea – get Oprah onto Primal. She can lose weight and make up with all the Texas cattlemen she upset a few years ago.

    Alison Golden wrote on December 21st, 2010
  14. Hahah pretty embarrassing for them to do that when you have so much recognition.

    Here ya go Mark, you’re almost there:

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” Mahatma Gandhi

    Ahmed wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Great Quote! Very fitting, thanks :)

      Mainer_Daisy wrote on December 22nd, 2010
      • Except that Gandhi was a vegan (and advocated as such) for most of his life…

        Chris wrote on November 18th, 2011
        • Way to completely miss the point of citing that quote from Gandhi.
          Of course Gandhi was a vegan–you know, since ghee and goat-milk (both of which he consumed) come from plants…

          Wulf wrote on December 13th, 2011
  15. Congratulations! When a vegan says you’re eating wrong, go back for another plateful.

    I also find it useful to read Yahoo’s “Eat This, Not That” column–since usually ‘This’ is being bashed for a load of saturated fat, and the replacement is some sort of sugary ‘low cal/low fat’ mess.

    You can glean a surprising amount of good data from the negative space around the positive recommendations of someone who is dead wrong.

    Bennett wrote on December 21st, 2010
  16. Awesome. Congrats, Mark. You are now officially perceived as a threat and not just a faddish nut out on the fringe. Now they’ve actually got to deal with us and the battle can be joined. Thank you again for all the work you have done to help get the Primal movement out into the mainstream. You’re helping thousands of people every day! Going Primal was the best gift I ever gave myself.

    Jeff wrote on December 21st, 2010
  17. Mark,

    Maybe you can leverage this to get some big time exposure?

    Michael wrote on December 21st, 2010
  18. *laughs* I love your snark, Mark. And I’m just hearing the section of “Fat Head” that deals with “The Guy from CSPI!” – which is probably the sister corporation of PCRM.

    Awesome job. I’m really amused at this, and pleased, because – as you say – there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Well done!

    Griff wrote on December 21st, 2010
  19. I do believe congrats are in order. I can’t wait for the next edition of artery-clogging madness! Sign me up for 3 please!

    Jason Sandeman wrote on December 21st, 2010
  20. sean croxtons attempt at getting that oprah show deal was probably the closest weve gotten to the mainstream…. so close…

    will wrote on December 21st, 2010
  21. Just before I read this, I was going through my closet discarding 5 pairs of pants that are now too large for me. This is the second time I have done this in the last year. Just a week ago I had my yearly blood tests and they were the best ever. I have not consumed a whole grain or oat bran in a year and have been eating steak and butter on a regular basis. My doctor noticed I had lost weight – a lot of weight. He said “whatever you are doing, keep doing”. Seems like common sense to me.

    This PCRM reminds me a lot of the CSPI which I found was behind a lot of BUNK even before I went primal.

    John wrote on December 21st, 2010
  22. Are they all not bread addicts, all those neat physicians ? “oh yeah, you should have some bread every day as it contributes to the amount of protein that you get”… oh please, come on xD they can’t be serious.

    I just hate NYTimes.

    BTW, I know that’s not a very helpful comment. Just random thoughts.

    Furan wrote on December 21st, 2010
  23. And another:,0,5732768.column

    I don’t agree, this book has changed my life, but of course CW reigns its ugly head again. Just thought you would want to know what is being said out there.

    Mark Sisson wrote on December 21st, 2010
  24. Congrats Mark! You know how to keep good people.

    I’ve been following the PB since November 1st. Already my wedding is so big on my finger that if I hold my hand straight down it will fall off!

    Steve wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Heh, I have the same issue with my favorite thumb ring. I keep flinging it off! I guess it’s time to get a new one before I lose this one!

      Cheryl White wrote on December 22nd, 2010
  25. HURRAY! Kudos and double kudos for you Mark – to be spurned by the likes of Colin Campbell is **** truly *** and honor– (one Denise Minger received earlier this year…)

    keep up the good fight… :-)

    moksha wrote on December 21st, 2010
  26. … and doesn’t PCRM stand for “politically correct rancid matter”? or perhaps “positively cocky rabid mongrels”?

    somethin’ like that–

    any other ideas on what PCRM stands for?

    moksha wrote on December 21st, 2010
  27. Congrats Mark!!

    Heatherly wrote on December 21st, 2010
  28. Saw your cookbook ranked in PCRM’s press release and smelled a rat. I’ve been toying with the idea of going paleo lately and think I’m finally going to pick up a copy of your cookbook today. Also didn’t realize you’re an Eph, which makes me like you even better. Keep on fighting the good fight.

    M.J. wrote on December 21st, 2010
  29. Wow! Congratulations! Two million? I would have said a measly one million. This is great!

    Harry wrote on December 21st, 2010
  30. Congrats, you know you are shaking up the status quo when they target you like that.

    rob wrote on December 21st, 2010
  31. I just bought two PB cookbooks for Christmas gifts. Before wrapping them of course I looked them. By far the best cookbooks I’ve bought. Simple, delicious looking meals with a ton of photos. The photos sell the book. Now I have to go out and by another for me.

    Rob wrote on December 21st, 2010
  32. Congrats Mark , you are on their radar now and it worries them .
    all these success stories are surely made up ………..bahahaha !!!
    lets see I ate like they suggest , and gained weight
    I go primal and lose 100lbs in 10 months.
    no brainer there
    keep doing what you are doing

    Jason Young wrote on December 21st, 2010
  33. In reading the actual PCRM top 5 list they say:

    “But a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that a low-carbohydrate diet based on animal food sources increases mortality risk from all causes, including cancer and heart disease.”

    What (misleading) study are they referring to here?

    Alex wrote on December 21st, 2010
  34. Congrats Mark!!!

    I love your cook book! Thanks to it I have lost 20lbs and finally learned how to cook a steak.

    Bobbi wrote on December 21st, 2010
  35. sorry – had to report this slightly off-topic anomaly – but it was *such* a good chuckle when i found it surfing–

    do you all know about this new group “PETA” ? (no, not the oft–insane animal rights activists and vegans…)


    moksha wrote on December 21st, 2010
  36. Mark,

    Congratulations. You know when the haters are coming out that you’re doing something right.

    Also, congrats on a lot of recipes included in Tim Ferriss’ slow-carb cookbook. A step towards the right direction.

    Alex Shalman wrote on December 21st, 2010
  37. What a compliment. Congrats Mark!

    Rich Double Yah wrote on December 21st, 2010
  38. CONGRATS!! You’re right up there with some of the best chefs I’ve seen on t.v and you only have a website and word of mouth!! So glad to be onboard with P.B. Well done Mark and Co.

    Tamin wrote on December 21st, 2010
  39. You really, really need to issue a serious-toned press release.

    You need to jump on this publicity, and that would be a good way. Someone might learn about the Primal way if you do it up right!

    Bob Crason wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Bob, that is an incredible idea, and I’d second it heartily. There’s a lot of chatter out there, but the meaningful stuff has this wonderful tendency to go viral.

      Alhaddadin wrote on December 21st, 2010
  40. I just got an awesome idea: televised nutritional debates.

    Get Mark to go head-to-head with Susan Levin, and Robb Wolf going toe-to-toe with Dr. Oz! It’d be like the presidential debates, but with WAY more consequence for health of the American people!

    Okay… so depending on how cynical you want to be, you could debate that last point. But still, given the amount of confusion out there about how to eat (the NY Daily News article is a perfect indicator of this), a real, honest exchange of information (facts on our side… viewpoints on theirs) in a neutral setting where people can really explain the full picture. There’s no way that CW could still hold up in an environment like that.

    Or, even better, a reality show! All you’d really need to do is to get two obese identical twins and have one follow a CW-inspired SAD, with the other eating primally, and track their progress throughout a “season” of reality TV. I mean, there’s a reason “the Biggest Loser” is so popular – flawed as that particular show’s methods are, the firsthand evidence it gives of people losing weight and taking control of their health is impossible to ignore.

    I think that the kind of confusion and downright ignorance about health is going to persist until there is a forum where these issues can be discussed with the most minimal amount of bullsh*t allowable.

    Hey, Mark – why don’t you take some of the money you’re making from your (terrible, unhealthy, crime-against-humanity) cookbook sales and bring this idea to some TV producers? Heck, it’s worth a shot – I’d watch it!

    Alhaddadin wrote on December 21st, 2010
    • Oh I love your tv idea!

      as far as the debates go, those would be mostly based on medical studies. Primal/paleo would probably lose based on the loads of poorly constructed medical studies out there supporting CW.

      Saoirse wrote on December 22nd, 2010

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