The farmers markets have just opened, and we finally have fresh, local vegetables. It’s time to eat in a new, seasonal way-and the bookshelves are filled with works by experts who want to influence how and what we eat.
So, if you’re on a quest to eat well, here are three books you should devour pronto:
“In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan contends that most of what we eat isn’t really food. It’s foodlike, but so manufactured and processed that it can no longer be considered food. His simple tests: Does it rot? If not, then it isn’t food. Would your grandmother recognize the ingredients? Diglycerides and high fructose corn syrup are made in factories, not kitchens. Pollan takes on nutritionists and the food industry and gives very simple advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
“Food Matters”, by Mark Bittman, takes Pollan’s advice and puts it to good use. Bittman, a food writer for “The New York Times,” needed to lose weight and stop his progression toward diabetes. He started eating mostly vegetables and whole grains for two of his three meals and cut out all processed pseudo-foods. He doesn’t deprive himself, but with those simple changes he lost 35 pounds and lowered his cholesterol and blood sugar. His book has delicious recipes and menus-and lots of motivation to make changes that are good for you and the planet.
“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver is the story of a family’s journey from supermarket food to food that they grow or someone in their community grows. The family’s escapades with turkey sex and canning tomatoes are funny enough that you want to plant a few rows of beans, or at the very least check out www.localharvest.org for local food sources.
Steer clear of “The Dinner Diaries” by Betsy Block, which made me want to eat Oreos. Block tries to change her family’s eating habits largely through nagging and preaching. My sympathies were strongly with her kids, especially when she decides to become a localvore-in February. In New England. It’s sort of a what-not-to-do rather than a how-to.
CAPTION/PHOTO CREDIT: From Dinner Diaries, by Betsy Block. © 2008 by Betsy Block. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.