Book Review: Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, 2014

Home-made bone broth has a common sense appeal that trumps any scientific explanation. It’s inexpensive, nourishing and delicious. It restores the weak and helps cure a variety of ailments. What’s not to like? In an era full of conflicting nutritional advice, broth speaks in plain tongue.

Broth calls us back to grandmother’s day, when cows were raised on grass and vegetables came from family farms. Widely considered a restorative food for the weak and ailing, broth from bones and whole carcasses is a part of most traditional diets. There is simply no downside to broth made from quality ingredients (organic or pasture-raised animals, and organic vegetables), unless you have a religious or ethical commitment to avoiding meat.

Nourishing Broth is both a cookbook for broth and a guide to the science behind its nutritional benefits. If the simple appeal of broth is all the explanation you need, go straight to Part III, Recipes. Be sure to read Chapter 20 Basic Techniques for useful information on getting the most out of your ingredients. The basic recipes for bone broth are simple and widely available, but the book collects them in one place, and gives some interesting variations. Should you need suggestions for how to use broth in your cooking, there are plenty of recipes for soups, stews, sauces and other dishes.

The marrow of Nourishing Broth is really in the first two sections. Part I explains the nutritional science of broth. It gives a straight forward and readable discussion of the amino acids, minerals and other nutrients in broth and how these are metabolized by the body. Part II discusses specific ailments and how the compounds found in broth can be beneficial for healing.

Throughout Part II are compelling testimonials on the healing benefits of broth for the ailments discussed in each chapter. Many of these ring true to the personal stories I have heard in my clinic from clients who began including broth in their diets. Reduced pain and inflammation, better joint mobility, better digestion, increased vitality and reduced sugar cravings are a few of the testimonials I’ve heard first hand. While this may not seem miraculous, even a mild, lasting improvement in any of these areas can be life-changing.

Few research studies have been done on broth, so Fallon and Daniels draw inference from research done on whole cartilage, gelatin and other components of broth. The authors clearly explain the theory behind their inferences, substantiate their claims, and provide extensive references in the end notes. Reading this book, I never felt that they were touting broth as a “miracle food.” I became impressed with how much valid and important research on nutritional therapy has been ignored or abandoned in the last sixty years. With the rise of the pharmaceutical industry after World War II, and its influence on medical research, the medical community simply moved on to better ways to make money through patentable drugs.

Modern factory-made broths and soups contain little of the delicious ingredients and nutritional value of home-made broth from bones. Cooking broth from scratch – and eating it – feels like a long-lost quality of life has been recovered. And it has: the quality of nutritional balance.