February 6, 2009

Food Matters by Mark Bittman

Over the past couple of years I have become environmentally friendly. I conserve as much water and electricity as I can. I recycle everything I can. I try to condense all my shopping trips so not to use a lot of gas. That sort of thing.

So when I read about this book by Mark Bittman, boasting that I can help reduce the effects of global warming by changing the way I eat, I was curious.

Before I go on, let me clarify that I am not a global warming fanatic. Nor am I a total granola person. I am not going to water my garden with my own pee, and I like my air conditioning in the summer. But I will change the way I do something if it makes sense.

That said, I am interested in learning how government policy, big business marketing, and global economics influence the way we eat, and how it affects the environment.

Mark Bittman's basic premise can be summarized by saying eat less meat (especially beef, since it takes a whole lot of energy to raise and process cattle) and eat more whole grains and vegetables. When you do this, you will improve your health and help reduce global warming.

This is something we already do on a weekly basis. We really only eat beef 2 or 3 days a week. The rest is chicken, pastas and vegetables. So nothing new there!

I was, however, a more than a little disappointed in the book. Three-fourths of it was nothing but his recipes, leaving only the first 75 pages to actual reading material. And much of that was repetitive. There was nothing really ground-breaking or scholarly about it. No big studies on the food industry and how our food is actually produced. It seemed to be a little rushed. I was literally able to read the book in an hour. Glad I got it from the library!

Overall, I would recommend this book only if you have not read anything at all about the link between the food industry and the degradation of our environment. Otherwise, I would recommend you read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (which I will review soon).

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting...I've been wanting to read this book! I love cookbooks, too, so I'm not that turned off by the thought of tons of recipes :)

    We've switched to a far more vegetarian diet for the reasons you've mentioned here, especially in the summers when we have fresh produce from our CSA. It's been far easier than I thought, though I doubt I'd ever be able to go fully vegetarian. I'd miss beef stew and chicken noodle soup and BACON way too much :) But I do think it's important to think about how my food consumption affects the world, as well as my own health.


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