Surprise surprise! I found another non-fiction book on food that I love and think you should read. Although I love Mark Bittman’s cookbook How To Cook Everything, I wasn’t planning on reading Food Matters until my friend Janssen asked me if I had read it yet. She gave it a thumbs-up, and since she reads over 100 books each year, I figure she’s a pretty good judge of what’s worth reading.
I took some notes while I was reading to try to better capture why I think this book is worth your time:
- I didn’t know this, but if you add up all of the people in the US, and all of the fruits/vegetables grown in America, there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Why are we growing so much corn and soy when we don’t even have enough carrots for everyone?
- We all need to eat less meat. Those who consider themselves carnivores (although as Michael Pollan once pointed out this is an incorrect label and omnivore is a better term) feel defensive when people talk about eliminating some meat from their diet because they are used to vicious attacks from vegans-who-give-veganism-a-bad-name. I like the way Bittman starts the section on eating less meat:
I’m going to skip most of the deplorable stuff about factory farming. In fact any detailed description of growing animals industrially (the word “raising” is really misapplied here) would sicked anyone who has even the slightest feeling for other species (this includes all pet owners who are not extreme hypocrites), or who believe that the earth is to be shared by all creatures (except maybe mosquitoes), or who believes in fairness, justice or kindness. – Page 26
- I think his instructions work because he sprinkles in confessions of his own bad habits in other places. On page 73 he admits that he “attacks” good white bread on the table at dinner, and casually says that every few months he indulges in a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke. He is real guy, doing what real people do. This is not an unattainable diet for the average American.
- His advice on page 78 about dealing with hunger during weight loss attempts is practical, and he describes embracing hunger much better than I did here.
You can also embrace hunger, strange as that may sound, just as you might embrace the delicious anticipation of a nap, or sexual craving. Your hunger will, after all, be satisfied; why not wait an hour? (You’re not dying after all!) You might also stop eating before you’re full (three-quarters full is probably about right). And if you eat slowly, taking your time, you’ll give the food time to reach your stomach and give you a sense of satisfaction before you have seconds or thirds. – Page 79
- He hints that some recent research suggests that excess protein intake may be related to the immune malfunction that causes food allergies. I am very interested to see how this pans out.
- The best part about this book is that it’s filled with arguments to change your eating, and then gives you recipes to make it happen! He lays out 4 weeks of meal plans using the recipes in the book (would someone puh-leeze write a seasonal cookbook that applies to the mid-west already? Or for Texas?), but my favorite section is Six Seasoning Blends You Can’t Live Without on page 143. I mostly rely on dried basil (I know, I know, fresh is so much better!), salt, butter, and cheese, to flavor my dishes, but this section has really influenced the way I cook and help me experiment with unique flavors. Anyone who reads my food blog knows that I need a lot less saturated fat in my life! (Mmmmm, cheese….).
- Other recipes I cannot wait to try. More-Vegetable-Than-Egg-Frittata, Whole Grain Pancakes, Hummus with Pita and Greens, Paella, Cassoulet with Lots of Vegetables, Coconut and Nut Chews, ALMOST NO WORK WHOLE GRAIN BREAD. Oh yeah baby, I am super stoked about that last one.
The copy I read and used to write this post is from the library, I plan on buying the digital version for my ipad in the near future. If you’ve used any of the recipes from Food Matters I’d love to hear your favorites.