Four books for real eating

From the archives... for the holidays. First published 11.12.2011.

Via Kaboodle

I'm starting an (another) occasional series in which I share some amazing books that have shaped my thinking around living more sustainably. These are books that have changed the way I live my life, from what and how I eat to how I connect with the world around me. I'll try to provide handy links to each book, in case you want to get your hands on one quick smart. First up are books that have helped shape my appetite - how and what I eat:

In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan really only has one piece of advice - eat food. Seems obvious. Simple. Sweet. But it's what he means by 'food' that fills the pages. In Defence of Food should be compulsory reading, really. It's a punchy, brave, witty commentary on the state of our plate today. "Eat food", he says, not these 'edible food-like substances' that are filling our shop shelves at a rapid rate. He also throws in some culinary history that'll leave you flabbergasted and fired up for change: how we've come to eat a grain-based diet largely due to US politics (not nutrition, of course), how staples like flour and sugar were (and still are) refined for no other reason than to increase their shelf life so they could be shipped far and wide without going rancid (which of course strips them of any nutritional value), and how the age of 'nutritionism' has paradoxically destroyed our health, as well as our meals.

In Defence of Food will change the way you think about food, eating, agriculture, food science, and nutrition (everything really). It will empower you to know better, to make the changes you need for better health. You can buy it here.

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
I don't know what I'd do without this little beauty. I refer to it almost weekly. If you've been following my blog, you'd know I follow a somewhat paleo diet - no sugar, no grains, lots of veggies, healthy fats and proteins. Nourishing Traditions tells you how to eat this stuff. It revives the long-lost lessons of ancient cultures, cultures that knew things like: sprouting lentils and other legumes makes them easier to digest and unlocks their nutrients, soaking nuts activates enzymes present in them, making them a trillion times better for you (in fact you shouldn't eat nuts unless they're soaked), and it's OK to eat fat and drink unpasteurised milk and eat real butter. Yes. Joy.

NT is a comprehensive collection of  how-tos (how to make keffir, how to sprout legumes, how to properly prepare flour for breadmaking), nutritious recipes and easy-to-understand summaries of the different types of carbs, fats and proteins, which ones are good for you and which one's aren't. You can buy NT here.

The Sustainable Table
Sustainable Table is the outfit I now work with, a passionate bunch of foodies who care about what impact their food choices has on the environment and the people, places and animals in it. This is the cookbook for anyone interested in eating food that's better for them, and better for the environment. It's a collection of stories and recipes from chefs, farmers and everyday people who are doing their bit by changing the way they buy and eat food.

The 2nd edition includes a compelling article by The Coming Famine author Julian Cribb that'll be sure to kick your ass into action, as well as a fascinating (yet saddening) section on the realities of modern mass farming practices, to ensure you've got all the facts and stats for your next dinner party debate. There's also a handy seasonal produce guide and a section on how to make your own basics like puff pastry and whole egg mayo. Did I mention there are recipes from chefs like Annie Smithers from Annie Smithers' Bistro and Dan Hunter from (hello!) Royal Mail Hotel?! You can buy the book here.

The Real Food Companion by Matthew Evans
All 560 pages of this behemoth of a cookbook are a thing of beauty. Matthew Evans is my food idol (click here for my interview with him) - a former tough food-critic who stuck it to all things corporate-foodie and shipped himself off to rural Tassie to grow his own produce. So he'd know where his food came from, how it was raised and treated. Reading this book set me off on my own real food campaign. This is the book I keep going back to for delicious wholesome recipes (of which there are a gazillion) but also for insight into the ethics behind food and the way it's raised and farmed today. It's where I first read that supermarket tomatoes are picked green and gassed with ethylene to make them blush... You can buy the book here.



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