Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes

by Mark Bittman


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From the award-winning champion of culinary simplicity who gave us the bestselling How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian comes Food Matters, a plan for responsible eating that's as good for the planet as it is for your weight and your health.

We are finally starting to acknowledge the threat carbon emissions pose to our ozone layer, but few people have focused on the extent to which our consumption of meat contributes to global warming. Think about it this way: In terms of energy consumption, serving a typical family-of-four steak dinner is the rough equivalent of driving around in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home.

Bittman offers a no-nonsense rundown on how government policy, big business marketing, and global economics influence what we choose to put on the table each evening. He demystifies buzzwords like “organic,” “sustainable,” and “local” and offers straightforward, budget-conscious advice that will help you make small changes that will shrink your carbon footprint—and your waistline.

Flexible, simple, and non-doctrinaire, the plan is based on hard science but gives you plenty of leeway to tailor your food choices to your lifestyle, schedule, and level of commitment. Bittman, a food writer who loves to eat and eats out frequently, lost thirty-five pounds and saw marked improvement in his blood levels by simply cutting meat and processed foods out of two of his three daily meals. But the simple truth, as he points out, is that as long as you eat more vegetables and whole grains, the result will be better health for you and for the world in which we live.

Unlike most things that are virtuous and healthful, Bittman's plan doesn't involve sacrifice. From Spinach and Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing to Breakfast Bread Pudding, the recipes in Food Matters are flavorful and sophisticated. A month's worth of meal plans shows you how Bittman chooses to eat and offers proof of how satisfying a mindful and responsible diet can be. Cheaper, healthier, and socially sound, Food Matters represents the future of American eating.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416575658
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 12/29/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 240,898
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mark Bittman is the author of Food Matters, How to Cook Everything and other cookbooks, and of the weekly New York Times column, The Minimalist. His work has appeared in countless newspapers and magazines, and he is a regular on the Today show. Mr. Bittman has hosted two public television series and has appeared in a third.

Read an Excerpt


Two years ago, a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) landed on my desk. Called Livestock's Long Shadow, it revealed a stunning statistic: global livestock production is responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases — more than transportation.

This was a signal moment for me, coming along with some personal health problems, an overall gloomy global outlook, and an increasing concern with animal products in general — the quality of meat, the endangerment of wild fish, the way domestic animals are raised, and the impact our diet has had on the environment. Never before had I realized issues of personal and global health intersected so exquisitely. The destiny of the human race and that of the planet lay in our hands and in the choices — as individuals and as a society — that we made.

If I told you that a simple lifestyle choice could help you lose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term or chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming, I imagine you'd be intrigued. If I also told you that this change would be easier and more pleasant than any diet you've ever tried, would take less time and effort than your exercise routine, and would require no sacrifice, I would think you'd want to read more.

When you do, you'll find an explanation of the links among diet, health, the environment in general and climate change in particular and you'll see how you can make a difference. And while you're doing your part to heal the planet you'll improve your health, lose weight, and even spend less at the checkout counter. And yes: This is for real.

The consequences of modern agriculture

It doesn't take a historian to see that events that took place hundreds or even thousands of years ago reverberate to our day, and it doesn't take a scientist to see the profound effects of every significant advance in technology, from the invention of the wheel and the internal combustion engine to that of the microchip.

Unfortunately, we can rarely anticipate the consequences of historical events, inventions, and new technologies. Some have had nearly entirely positive results: indoor plumbing and vaccinations have saved countless lives, and it would be hard to argue that the telephone or railroads were not almost entirely positive. Automobiles, with their huge demand on limited energy sources, are a tougher call.

The industrialization of food production was one development that — though positive at first — is now exacting intolerable costs. Just as no one could foresee that cars would eventually suck the earth dry of oil and pollute the atmosphere to unsafe levels, no one could have anticipated that we would raise and eat more animals than we need to physically sustain us, that in the name of economy and efficiency we would raise them under especially cruel conditions (requiring some humans to work under cruel conditions as well), or that these practices would make them less nutritious than their wild or more naturally raised counterparts and cause enormous damage to the earth, including the significant acceleration of global warming.

Yet that's exactly what has happened. Industrialized meat production has contributed to climate change and stimulated a fundamental change in our diets that has contributed to our being overweight, even obese, and more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and perhaps even cancer.

It isn't just our propensity for eating animal products that's making us fat and sick, but also our consumption of junk food and overrefined carbohydrates. And these foods — which as a group are also outrageously expensive, especially considering their nutritional profiles — are also big contributors to environmental damage and climate change.

The twentieth-century American diet, high in meat, refined carbohydrates, and junk food, is driven by a destructive form of food production. The fallout from this combination, and the way we deal with it are issues as important as any humanity has faced: The path we take from this crossroads will determine not only individual life expectancy and the quality of life for many of us, but whether if we were able to see the earth a century from now we would recognize it.

Climate change is no longer a theory, and humans will suffer mightily if it isn't reversed. Most people know this. Less well known is the role that raising livestock plays in this, which is greater than that of transportation. Equally certain is that many lifestyle syndromes and diseases are the direct or indirect result of eating too many animal products. Our demand for meat and dairy — not our need, our want — causes us to consume way more calories, protein, and fat than are good for us.

Why food matters

Global warming, of course, was accidental. Even 30 years ago we couldn't know that pollution was more than stinky air. We thought it caused bad visibility and perhaps a few lung diseases here and there — as if that weren't bad enough.

The current health crisis is also an accident: We thought that the more meat and dairy and fish and poultry we ate, the healthier we would be.

This has not proved to be the case. Overconsumption has been supported and encouraged by Big Oil and Big Food — the industrial meat and junk food complex — in cahoots with the federal government and even the media and (one might say socalled) health industries. This has come at the expense of lifestyles that would have encouraged more intelligent use of resources — not just oil, but land and animals — as well as global health and longer life for individuals.

It doesn't have to continue: by simply changing what we eat we can have an immediate impact on our own health and a very real effect on global warming — and the environment, and animal cruelty, and food prices.

That's the guiding principle behind Food Matters, and it's really very simple: eat less meat and junk food, eat more vegetables and whole grains. I'm not talking about a diet in the conventional sense — something you do for two weeks or three months and then "maintain." I'm not suggesting that you become a vegetarian or eat only organic food. I'm not even talking about a method for weight loss, per se, though almost anyone who makes the kinds of changes I'm suggesting here is likely to lose weight and keep it off. You won't be buying exotic foods or shopping in expensive specialty markets, and you won't be counting calories — or anything else.

I'm just suggesting eating less of some things and more of others. The results will make you healthier while you do a little toward slowing climate change — much like trading in your gas guzzler for something more energy and cost efficient.

You could stop reading now and put your own plan into action. Or you can read on and find the details of how we allowed ourselves to be stuck with this mess and how you can help yourself and the rest of us get out of it. I'll describe what sane, conscious eating is, and the impact it will have. I'll suggest different strategies for changing how you think about food and prepare it. I'll show you how easy it is to follow the Food Matters plan when you eat out, whether at restaurants or other people's houses. I'll give you some sample menus and direction so you can easily create your own. Finally, I'm providing 77 easy recipes to get you started.

At first my suggestions may seem radical, but they can be integrated gradually into any style of eating. There's no sacrifice here, only adjustment and benefit: I will not suggest that you cut your calorie consumption (I don't even advocate counting calories), though you probably will simply by following the plan. Other than suggesting that you pretty much rule out junk food, I won't put any foods off limits.

The fact is that what I'm asking you to do isn't radical at all, and I'm confident you'll find this new mind-set so easy and so natural, and that you'll see its many benefits so easily, that you'll be eager to adjust your diet.

Why me?

Who am I to tell you how to eat and suggest it's a way to reduce global warming? I've been a reporter and researcher for more than 30 years; for much of that time, I've written about food from every possible angle. I've seen nutritional "wisdom" turned on its head more than once, and I've seen studies contesting studies designed to disprove studies. I have no more agenda than to inject some common sense into the discussion.

It doesn't take a genius to see that an ever-growing population cannot continue to devote limited resources to produce ever-increasing amounts of meat, which takes roughly 10 times more energy to produce than plants. Nor can you possibly be "nice" to animals, or respectful of them, when you're raising and killing them by the billions.

And it doesn't take a scientist, either, to know that a handful of peanuts is better for you than a Snickers bar, that food left closer to its natural state is more nutritious than food that has been refined to within an inch of its life, and that eating unprecedented quantities of animals who have been drugged and generally mistreated their entire lives isn't good for you.

I've got plenty of evidence to back up what I'm saying in these pages, but I've got my own story, too, and maybe you'll find that equally convincing. (It begins on page 71.) I've tried to strike a balance here, avoiding citing an overwhelming number of studies in an attempt to prove my point; that approach doesn't work, anyway, because most data can be read many ways, depending on your prejudices. My contention is that this way of eating is so simple, logical, and sane that cherry-picking scientific research isn't necessary.

One more thing: I'm not a doctor or a scientist, but I'm not a health-food or nutrition nut either. For my entire adult life I've been what used to be called a gourmand and is now called (unfortunately) a foodie: a daily and decent cook, a traveler who's eaten all over the world and written about it, a journalist and food lover who's eagerly devoured everything. I intend to continue to do just that, but in different proportions.

For our own sakes as well as for the sake of the earth, we need to change the way we eat. But we can continue to eat well — better, in fact. In the long run, we can make food more important, not less, and save ourselves and our planet (and some money) by doing so.

Copyright © 2009 by Mark Bittman

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

Part I Food Matters

Rethinking Consumption 9

A Brief History of Overconsumption 21

Selling the Bounty 31

Does the Government Help or Hurt? 39

So-Called Healthy Ingredients 53

Sane Eating 67

How to Eat Like Food Matters 81

Part II Food Matters: Recipes

How to Cook Like Food Matters 111

Meal Plans: A Sample Month 119

The Basics 131

Breakfast 161

Lunch 179

Snacks and Appetizers 217

Dinner 237

Desserts 285

Sources 299

Measurement conversions 311

Acknowledgments 313

General Index 315

Recipe Index 319


A Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Mark Bittman

B&N Review:Food Matters comes wrapped for this reader in two surprises. The first is to find a manifesto on healthy eating from such a happy advocate of appetite (I have my food-stained copies of How to Cook Everything and Simple to Spectacular right here to prove how infectious your advocacy has been). The second is the very real and rather stunning global environmental context for the book's argument, especially as it pertains to eco-stresses caused by the world's demand for livestock. Would you explain the motivation for your change of focus, in print, from enthusiastic cooking to conscious eating?

Mark Bittman: I'm no less enthusiastic about cooking -- or eating. I have simply spent the last five years trying to figure out what style of eating really makes sense for Americans. The motivations are many: I became aware of (and was appalled by) the impact that the production of livestock, and junk food for that matter, has on the environment and global warming. Two, about 95 percent of animals in the U.S. are raised industrially -- i.e., with no consideration for the animals themselves. Three, too much meat, junk food, and overprocessed carbohydrates have combined to cause a health epidemic in this country. And four, because after years of being a food writer and food lover who eagerly devoured pretty much anything, I was faced with some personal health problems.

BNR: How exactly does the worldwide demand for livestock contribute to environmental stresses?

MB: Just one example, though perhaps the worst possible one: industrially produced livestock, according to the UN, generates nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gases, more than any other sector save energy production. Greenhouse gas production will rise in direct proportion to production of more livestock. And by the way, grass-fed beef is not a favorable alterative; the only way around this is to produce less meat for human consumption.

BNR: One of the most striking sentences in the book to me is this one: "Our soil, once this country's most valuable resource, is not only becoming depleted, it's literally vanishing." Could you explain that?

MB: Sod is "virgin" soil. Once you break it, it is more vulnerable to being washed away. Add monoculture, chemical fertilizers (which do nothing to build the soil physically, only chemically), and unnatural levels of irrigation, and you have soil being washed into (mostly) the Gulf of Mexico. There are places in the Midwest where the land is several feet lower than it used to be as a result.

BNR: Let me set the stage for the next question with a couple of quotations from the book:

In recent years, Americans' life expectancy became the second-worst in the industrialized world, just ahead of Latvia.

We have not been moving in the direction of 'improved nutrition,' though, and consequently have seen the situation get worse. Since 1990, those diagnosed with diabetes have increased 6.1 percent; since 1991, the prevalence of obesity has increased 75 percent; and heart disease is not only the number one killer of adults: frighteningly, it's also the second leading cause of death for children under 15.

Why, with so much attention paid to nutrition over the past decade, have things been getting worse?

MB: Because the attention is being paid to the wrong things -- magic bullets instead of commonsense eating. If a quarter or a third of the country has pre-diabetes, doesn't it make sense to reduce the things that cause it (and cause obesity, too), which are not only sugar but simple carbohydrates? If rates of heart disease and cancer are refusing to yield to drugs and "low-fat" diets, doesn't it make sense to look at the bigger picture? We're just eating the wrong way -- it's not much more complicated than that. And not that difficult to change.

BNR: You write quite tellingly about the futility of governmental action on these issues. Indeed, you describe a large part of the FDA's efforts with regard to Nutrition Labeling and Education as "a large-scale scam that allows packagers of processed food to toss, say, a little calcium or soy in with their largely nonnutritive food and claim that these foods 'have the potential to prevent osteoporosis' or 'reduce the risk of heart disease.'" At the same time, you make it clear -- and this is what's refreshing about Food Matters -- that, on an individual level, action is simple, uncomplicated, and not even especially onerous. How would you reduce the knowledge contained in the book to a simple action plan, and why can't the government or other agencies do the same?

MB: To answer the second question first: the USDA has a deeply conflicted role. There are well-intentioned and intelligent people there, as there long have been, and they know what comprises sane eating. But the agency's role is also to promote the food grown and produced by American farmers: corn, soy, sugar, flour, and meat.

As to the simple action plan: eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains; eat less of everything else. Really, it doesn't have to be more complicated than that.

BNR: Is governmental ineffectiveness an intractable part of the problem, or can something be done to re-focus national resources of information and communication? Do you have any hope for the new administration in this regard?

MB: Oof. What a question. I think if I were so pessimistic as to say governmental ineffectiveness is intractable I'd give up. I do have hope for the new administration, though I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude. I do believe, though, that pressure by citizens is always the key to real and lasting change. If we want to eat better we can do so.

BNR: Can you take us through how you make Food Matters work for you on a day-to-day basis?

MB: My case is odd, because I'm weird; I like rules. You don't need the rules -- just do what I said in the above question -- eat more plants, less meat, junk food, and overprocessed carbs. The more you do that the better.

For me, I'm a maniac from dawn until dusk -- I eat only vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes -- no white flour, no sugar, no dairy, etc. Then at night I eat whatever I want to, including bread, meat, wine, etc. It works for me.

BNR: Let's step back outside the book's specific parameters to look for a moment at some broader social and cultural -- perhaps even philosophical -- concerns. You write: "Everything I've discussed so far -- the overproduction and consumption of meat, the omnipresence of junk food, our declining health, the contributions of agribusiness to global warming and other environmental horrors -- happened gradually." Are there factors outside the realm of food that have influenced our current penchant for "unconscious" eating?

MB: Well, if marketing can be considered outside of food, sure -- we've been encouraged to eat meat, dairy, processed food, useless carbs, and outright junk for fifty years or more. It's been the most intense marketing campaign imaginable, and -- had it been regulated, like marketing cigarettes has been -- we'd be a lot healthier.

BNR: Has the rise of technology, say, and its empowerment of a new sense of individual and social identity, detached from land and even, to some extent, from traditional continuities of time, contributed to the state of affairs you'd like to change?

MB: Yes, for sure. People don't know where their food comes from; they're alienated from farms and from their family's traditions -- it's a tragedy from the social as well as more obvious perspectives.

BNR: You make the case that the pursuit of convenience can have a dangerous influence on eating habits. In some way, the same is true of cooking, in that flavor requires a certain amount of time to seep in. It seems to me that what unites Food Matters to the work you've been doing all along is your gift for getting the highest return in the most efficient manner -- in this case, a healthy and eco-friendly return on eating habits; in the "Minimalist" columns, for example, the best return in flavor on the least amount of work. It's like you are an eating and cooking investment advisor, instructing us how to invest our time wisely for the most satisfying experiences in the kitchen and at table. Does that ring true to you?

MB: Yes. Here's the thing, and thanks for asking: in a way, cooking helps solve the problem. When people shop for themselves and cook for themselves, they're totally conscious about what they eat -- they're aware of every single thing they put in their mouths. Now: if the message is clear -- eat more plants, fewer animals -- and they believe it, and they start cooking for themselves, the rest is easy. No?

BNR: As a cook and food lover, has the change in your own eating habits described in Food Matters led to the happy discovery of new ingredients, new flavors, or new culinary techniques or traditions?

MB: For sure. I'm eating many times more grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit than I was a couple of years ago. I'm using more herbs and spices, I suppose -- because, after all, meat is the ultimate convenience food (you brown it, add salt, it tastes good). But the fact is I'm cooking much more than I was, much more simply, and enjoying it more. Eating -- well, that's the easy part.

BNR: There are 75 appealing recipes in the book. Would you mind highlighting a few of your favorites?

MB: I really love the frittata with less eggs and the pasta with more sauce. Also:
Pan-Cooked Grated Vegetables and Crunchy Fish
Braised Vegetables with Prosciutto, Bacon, or Ham
Whole Grains without Measuring (because it so simplifies things; same with the basic bean and veg recipes)
Orchiette with Broccoli Rabe, My Style
Meat-and-Grain Loaves, Burgers, and Balls

BNR: The recipes for short ribs in Simple to Spectacular, the book you wrote with Jean-George Vongerichten, are on the short list of all-time favorites in my house. Can we still eat them without guilt?

MB: Yes of course. But probably not as often!

BNR: In conclusion, a general question: how did you come to cooking and culinary writing as a career? Did you start out as a writer/reporter, and gravitate to food? Or was it the other way around? If the former, was there one moment or experience that, as it were, tipped you into the cooking pot?

MB: I was a home cook, and I loved it. I was a writer, searching for something to write about that would actually help me earn a living. It worked out. The memorable moments are many, but none was earth-shattering; it was a slow, steady, difficult development. Mostly work, a little luck, but nothing miraculous.

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Food Matters 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
LynnHarnett More than 1 year ago
Bittman, The Minimalist columnist for the NY Times and author of the best cookbooks around for people who love to eat and hate to fuss, discovered at age 57 that he weighed too much and was beginning to have health problems. So he cut out daytime animal products and ate what he wanted for dinner. He lost weight amazingly quickly, got healthy, and over the last couple years has developed a more plant based diet - and great recipes to feed it. But this is not a diet book, per se. It's about the planet, our industrialized food, and us. Meat production, for instance, produces "more greenhouse gas than the emissions caused by transportation." He explores how we got to such a state of mass production and over consumption, and reviews the uselessness of fad diets. Margin notes provide salient points and pull curious readers into the persuasive text. Then he gets into the food. Prepping veggies in advance and storing them, stocking the pantry. The basics of cooking all the beans and whole grains you can think of with variations galore. And a month of menus - 3 meals a day plus snacks. With recipes for every one. Here's a sample Tuesday: Breakfast Burrito with beans and avocado (no egg); Asian-Style Noodles with Mushrooms for lunch; a snack of Warm Nuts and Fruit; Roasted Vegetables with Halibut or Salmon Steaks, served with couscous for dinner; orange wedges for dessert. Bittman places lots of emphasis on whole grains - short-grain brown rice in his Paella (though he gives the adjusted time for white), whole-wheat tortillas, pancakes, and pasta. There's a lovely Vegetable and Grain Torta, which can be made with any grain you choose. With all this established, Bittman organizes the second half of the book by meal. Breakfast ranges from smoothies, granolas and Bread Pudding to Fried Rice and Vegetable Pancakes. He's big on breaking the breakfast mold and offers tips for using leftovers and making ahead. For lunch try Hummus with Pita and Greens, various vegetarian sandwich ideas, Spinach and Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, Fast Mixed Vegetable Soup. And for dinner there's a little meat. A hearty Chickpea Stew with Roasted Chicken. Meat and Grain Loaves, Burgers or Balls. Pan-cooked Grated Vegetables and Crunchy Fish. And enough variations to make you dizzy with inspiration. However, on sober reflection over the real-world dinner table, I think sticking with this would be nearly as difficult as sticking with any other diet, although more rewarding in the end. We're just not used to the chewy texture of whole grains and we like our meat. Imagine setting your table with a lovely big platter of eggplant or zucchini stuffed with herbed quinoa or wild rice. Even with a little sausage mixed in, it's an uphill proposition. Maybe forcing the family to read the book would help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally, Mark Bittman has taken all of the messages out there about diet and nutrition and our industrialized food industry and created a book that provides simple, healthy and delicious meals to be eaten throughout the day. By concentrating on eating healthy vegetables and grains throughout the majority of the day - then one finds that one is satisfied and full, while also gaining so many health benefits (and he would argue helping to save the planet by reducing our consumption of meat which increases greenhouse emissions and other waste/pollution that is detrimental to the planet). I have dozens of cookbooks and cook regularly, but this is by far one of the most inspiring and easy to reference books I now own. It inspires you to find new recipes at every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that entice you to eat healthy. No more having to search for a recipe for those meals - he's already done that for you - and provided the simple instructions to go with it. Bravo!
MikeFla More than 1 year ago
Mark Bittman gives a practical and entertaining view of food and how we as human beings eat or should I say over eat. The first half of the book tells us that we should eat well but that our our over indulgence is bad for both our health and for the environment. The second half of the book presents practical and easy recipes that are delicious. The breakfast couscous is very good. Enjoy, I still do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I should have looked at the book closer as I wanted more nutritional knowledge regarding food, food labels, ingredients etc. I wasn't looking for a book that was 3/4 recipes and how to cook foods. My mistake. If you are looking for a book to help you eat consciously to lose weight you may enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been seeing Matk Bittman on the Today Show on cooking segments for a while now. He talks about how he lost weight by eating more whole grains and fruits and veggies and it doesn't have to be a big sacrafice. I got this book intersted in the recipies. I got so much more. I have been educated on how big government and business has helped to make all of us so unhealthy and obease. We have been being poisioned for the last couple of generations. I always said the closer your food comes form the ground the better but there is a lot more to it like anything that sounds simple. Cholestorol levels have made me want to find ways to eat more grains less meat but the polotics, global warming, and health behind it makes a lot of sense too. So not just for the recipies but to learn how much some simple changes can make everything a little better makes this book a great read.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Mark Bittman¿s latest book, he claims he has discovered a method of eating that can help you lose weight, improve your health, save money and stop global warming. It sounds too good to be true, but his commonsense approach to food ¿ as if it ¿matters,¿ hence the title ¿ can do all of those things. It did for him.Here is his solution: Eat a lot less meat and dairy. Drastically reduce how much junk food you eat. Cut back on refined flour. Three simple rules, easy to remember and follow. And you don¿t have to sacrifice anything, just cut back a lot. Think of meat, flour and sugar as ¿treats,¿ and treat yourself daily. But mostly eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The way Bittman does it is by eating mostly vegan during the day (I think he allows himself some yogurt and cheese), and then have whatever he wants for dinner. By making this simple change, he has lost weight and lowered his cholesterol. Plus, he just plain feels better.In the first few chapters, Bittman explains how the meat industry and big agriculture impact the environment and our waistlines with a myriad of negative results. He describes how advertising and government have colluded with these industries to create an unsustainable demand for meat, produce monocultures of corn and soy, and convince us all that we need to eat these things to be healthy. The hypocrisy of a government that tells us we¿re all too fat on the one hand but subsidizes the production of high-fructose corn syrup on the other is staggering when you think about it. I¿ve certainly heard these arguments before ¿ in fact, Bittman authoritatively quotes one of my favorite authors, Michael Pollan, frequently ¿ but Bittman¿s style is straightforward, commonsensical and convincing. So much so that not only do I want to follow his advice (which, truthfully, won¿t be much of a lifestyle change for me), but I want everyone I love to read this book and become convinced as well.The biggest sacrifice for me would not be reducing my consumption of meat and dairy, which I eat in very small quantities anyway, but cutting back on junk food and refined flour. I do like my bread, and ¿junk food¿ is defined as any processed foods with more than five recognizable ingredients. That¿s an easy enough rule to remember, but take a look in your pantry and you¿ll see how difficult it is to put in practice. Still, treats are allowed, and Bittman emphasizes making slow, gradual changes.He provides a lot of useful advice that will help. For instance, he advocates cooking more than you need whenever you cook vegetables, beans or grains, and tells you how to store and reuse the extras. This is a technique I¿ve already put into practice, so that I¿ll have plenty of healthy choices for lunch and snacks when I don¿t have time to cook.The last half of the book is taken up by recipes. I haven¿t tried any of them yet, but leafing through them, I see an assortment of useful ¿master recipes,¿ emphasizing vegetables, fruits and grains, that can be endlessly varied to suit what you have on hand and what you like to eat. These are my favorite kinds of recipes, the kinds that after you make them once or twice, you don¿t really need the recipe anymore.As someone who loves to cook and eat, I do think that ¿food matters.¿ And I would love it if everyone would read this book and implement at least some of Bittman¿s advice.
madcatnip72 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Judging by the number of titles published recently, save the planet food books are big business. Many of them are of middling quality, but this one is pretty good. Just enough balance of science, political history, economics, chemistry, personal anecdotes and recipes to work. The main takeaways? a) Don¿t eat processed food and b) Eat vegan before six
wineisme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love to read about food, the environment, and health. I coach folks daily on improving eating habits with respect to personal and environmental considerations. Therefore, Bittman's book was a must read for me.As a fitness and wellness professional, I highly advocate reading Food Matters. What you will gain is a realistic, non-preach-y guide to approaching food. Weight management follows suit. Finally, an author who reminds us what food really is, recognizes that label scrutinizing and calorie counting are beyond what's necessary, and suggests practical and interchangeable recipes based on nature's bounty.You have to get this book. Read it and refer to it regularly. Not a ridiculous amount of new information, but such a human approach to nutritious, satiating, and environmentally-friendly eating- 'sane eating', as Bittman terms it.
adzebill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, much of the background was done better in Pollan. But the point of the book is to outline an "anti-diet" and show how it can be implemented. Bittman¿s an excellent food writer, and he repeatedly takes a non-prescriptive approach to recipes, making it clear that there are many ways to get to the same general state of eating less animal protein and more plants. A good gift for the food-conflicted and halfway cooks who aren't converts to the sustainable food movement yet.
stephaniechase on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent primer on eating better... without hard rules. Bittman is a wonderful writer, and indeed creates simple recipes (his "How to Cook Everything" is my favorite cookbook); this book might only be improved by photos of the recipes, and more meatless options.
willyt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is in two parts. The first portion of the book contains a good summary of why the author changed his eating habits and on how these changes resulted in beneficial effects. This summary contains both personal observations along with a useful summary (including an extensive bibliography for more information) of the results of specific scientific and more popular studies of food and the food industry. For people who are interested in food, much of this information is not new, but the author provides a very nice summary of this information in one location. The second portion of the book contains a number of recipes. I have not tried any of them, but I have tried a number of the recipes that he has published in his Minimalist column in the New York Times. I have had success (and quite good eating) with these recipes; therefore, I suspect that the recipes in this book would lead to the same result.
kristenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an automatic purchase -- I enjoy Bittman's column, he was my favorite part of that Spain show, and I'm very interested in the subject matter. The usefulness of the first half depends on how much in this genre you've already read. It's consistent with what everyone else has said and relatively mellow about it. And having already read so much of that topic, I was mostly looking forward to the recipes. There are some good ones, but they do get redundant -- inevitable, maybe, when the range of ingredients is narrowed. Surprisingly, considering how many cookbooks he's already written, there were quite a few typos in the recipes. And a cross-reference from the recipes back to the sample menus would have been a huge help. Produce is definitely cheaper in NYC than it is out here; I wouldn't be able to regularly use these recipes for that reason alone. But I'll certainly try a few.
Girl_Detective on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bittman writes on many of the same aspects of food that Michael Pollan has in The Omnivore¿s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: the problems with industrial farming, the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the US, and the prevalance of fast and processed food products.After a weight gain and health caution from his physician, Bittman developed what he calls simply ¿sane eating,¿ or the Food Matters approach. He chose a mostly vegan diet for breakfast, lunch and snacks, and a looser approach for dinner so he didn¿t feel deprived. He stresses many times that this has worked for him, but to take your own life, habits and preferences into account. The approach he advocates is simple, and eminently adaptable. This is not a strict regime, or a punishment. Instead it¿s an adjustment of your approach to cooking and eating that focuses almost entirely on what you can and should eat (lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains), what you should eat in moderation (dairy products and meat) and what you should avoid (overly processed artificial foods and industrially produced meat.)While Pollan wrote ¿Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.¿ from In Defense of Food, Bittman not only takes you through why it¿s important, but also puts it into practice with 77 easy-to-read and good-to-eat recipes. As Laura Miller at Salon noted when it came out, Food Matters is applied Pollan. Bittman is an experienced cook and recipe writer; he¿s the author of the New York Times¿ Minimalist column. The recipes are easy to follow, and he offers myriad variations and ideas. Throughout he has an upbeat, encouraging tone that urges new and experienced cooks to experiment and have fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so informative, it is amazing to now know the facts about the food industry. The diet part of the book is less of a diet and more just plain common sense. The book also includes some great recipes. Definitely worth checking out!
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