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Understanding What We Eat and How It Affects Us: The Story of Human Nutrition

May 2003
More details
  • Publisher
    Clairview Books
  • Published
    1st May 2003
  • ISBN 9781905570232
  • Language English
  • Pages 352 pp.
  • Size 7" x 10"

Wendy Cook’s fascination with nutrition began during her wartime childhood. Amid the deprivation and food-rationing of that era, her mother’s organic garden and its rich abundance made a profound impression. In her twenties, while married to Peter Cook, Wendy discovered the artistic and magical effects that food could have in creating a convivial atmosphere. During that time, she cooked for many well-known people, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Dudley Moore, and Peter Ustinov. It was only later when her daughter became ill, however, that Wendy came to study and understand deeper aspects of nutrition—in particular the effects of various foods on human health and consciousness.

In Foodwise, Wendy Cook presents a remarkable cornucopia of challenging ideas, advice, and commentary, informed by the seminal work of the scientist Rudolf Steiner. She begins the volume with biographical glimpses relating to her own experience with food and how it has influenced her life. She continues with an extraordinary perspective on the journey of human evolution, relating it to changes in consciousness and the consumption of various foods. She then considers the importance of agricultural methods, the nature of the human being, the significance of grasses and grains, the mystery of human digestion, and the issue of vegetarianism.

In the next section Cook analyzes the “building blocks” of nutrition, looking in detail at the nutritional and non-nutritional qualities of many foods, including carbohydrates, minerals, fats and oils, milk and dairy products, herbs and spices, salt and sweeteners, stimulants, legumes, nightshades, bread, water, and dietary supplements. She ends with practical tips on cooking, planning menus, children’s food, sharing meals, and mouth-watering recipes.

Foodwise presents a treasure of wisdom and experience for those who are concerned about the substance of the food they eat or wish to discover more about the physical, soul, and spiritual aspects of nutrition.

“A rich and sensitive philosophical exploration of approaches to nutrition and the family by a thoughtful woman of our time. A how-to-book with difference—it tells you how to live.” —Elisabeth Luard, author of Sacred Food 

“At last, here is a book that tells you the whole truth about food! Wendy Cook has brought together an astonishing ensemble of history, culture, aesthetics, and recipes related to food. It is a book that unites taste and transcendence.” —Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence

“A teaspoon of honey requires 2,000 hours of collecting and transforming by bees. In Foodwise, Wendy Cook does the same work of collecting and transforming for us, gathering relevant knowledge about human culture and nutrition that is guided by her wide experience and informed by a love that comes from sharing.” —Brian Goodwin, professor and author of How the Leopard Changed Its Spots 

“A great testament to one person’s struggle to bring meaning to food.” —Professor Tim Lang, City University

C O N T E N T S:



1. The History of Nutrition
2. Agricultural Methods
3. The Fourfold Human Being
4. Grasses and Grains


5. What Happens in Nutrition?
6. The Question of Vegetarianism


7. The Threefold Plant
8. Carbohydrates and Sweeteners
9. Bread and Bread Making
10. The Nightshade Family
11. Legumes
12. Milk and Dairy Products
13. Fats and Oils
14. Salt
15. Minerals and the Question of Dietary Supplements
16. Herbs and Spices
17. Stimulants: Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate
18. Water


19. Cooking and Menu-planning
20. Conclusions

Select Bibliography

Wendy E. Cook

Wendy E. Cook is a writer and speaker on nutritional issues. The first wife of satirist Peter Cook, she gained a reputation as a hostess in the 1960s and 1970s. Born in 1940, she studied art at Cambridge where she met Peter Cook. Later they lived in London and New York during which time Wendy developed cooking and entertaining as her creative motif. When their daughter Daisy developed asthma and conventional medicine had little effect, Wendy began a journey of discovery of complementary treatments and alternative ideas. She studied macrobiotics as well as Rudolf Steiner's approach to nutrition and agriculture (biodynamics). Having discovered how life-changing nutrition can be, she devoted herself to cooking and teaching in clinics, communities and schools. More recently she was resident at Schumacher College while simultaneously studying for a degree in Waldorf Education at Plymouth University. In addition to Foodwise and The Biodynamic Food and Cookbook (both from Clairview), Wendy is the author of So Farewell Then: The Biography of Peter Cook (Harper).