I’ve started food writing recently. As a supertaster with a masochistic streak (wanna know what happens when you eat too many Shocktarts?), it’s a lot of fun to write about how much I hate caffeine (but love coffee) and try to recreate the experience of eating something wonderful. Of course, this interest in food is reflected in my reading list, and that’s why these titles are on my list.
What to Eat by Marion Nestle
How do we decide what foods to eat? In recent years, this simple question has become complicated beyond belief—as supermarkets have grown to warehouse size, and as the old advice to eat foods from four food groups has been overrun by questions about organic foods, hormones, pesticides, carbohydrates, trans fats, omega-3s, supplements, health claims, extreme diets, and, above all, obesity.Fortunately, Marion Nestle is here to tell us what’s what—to give us the facts we need to make sensible choices from the bewildering array of foods available to us. With What to Eat, this renowned nutritionist takes us on a guided tour of the supermarket, explaining the issues with verve and wit as well as a scientist’s expertise and a food lover’s experience.Today’s supermarket is ground zero for the food industry, a place where the giants of agribusiness compete for sales with profits—not nutrition or health—in mind. Nestle walks us through the supermarket, section by section: produce, dairy, meat, fish, packaged foods, breads, juices, bottled waters, and more. Along the way, she untangles the issues, decodes the labels, clarifies the health claims, and debunks the sales hype. She tells us how to make sensible choices based on freshness, taste, nutrition, health, effects on the environment, and, of course, price. With Nestle as our guide, we learn what it takes to make wise food choices
and are inspired to act with confidence on that knowledge.What to Eat is the guide to healthy eating today: comprehensive, provocative, revealing, rich in common sense, informative, and a pleasure to read.
Marion Nestle received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation—the food world’s highest honor—as well as the foundation’s book prize. She is the author of Food Politics and Safe Food, and was featured in the documentary Super Size Me. A native of New York, she raised her family in California and now lives in Greenwich Village, where she teaches at New York University.
Despite my awareness of trans fat and aspartame, thanks to my family, my efforts to try and eat reasonably healthy are often thwarted by my love for really crappy candy. (I refer you again to my Shocktarts addiction.) But I want to have a bit more grounding in what’s what with food, so I can try to make better choices in the future. There’s no reason for ignorance, after all!
What to Eat was published on May 2, 2006.
Cook Food by Lisa Jervis
This rousing call to action for healthy, conscious eating is an inspirational primer for those who want to move beyond packaged and processed food toward a more responsible and sustainable way of eating. Many people are learning about the political ramifications of what they eat, but don’t know how to change their habits or expand their kitchen repertoire to include meatless dishes. This compendium offers a straightforward overview of the political issues surrounding food, and a culinary toolkit to put principles into practice. Without resorting to faux meat, fake cheese, or obscure ingredients, the recipes focus on fresh, local, minimally processed ingredients that sustain farmers, animals, and the entire food chain. Instead of a rigid set of recipes to be replicated, it offers tips for improvisation, creative thinking in the kitchen, practical suggestions for cooking on a budget, and quick and delicious vegan and vegetarian meal options for anyone who wants to eat fast, tasty, nutritious food every day.
…okay, I kind of take offense to that bit about “rigid recipes to replicate”. It’s okay to be a quantitative cook! Okay, okay, to each their own. Whatever. In any case, I would like to know more about the political nature of food, especially as an unrepentant carnivore. Teach me, Jervis!
Cook Food was published on September 1, 2009.