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


Product Description
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.

Good advice and easy to swallow, January 1, 2009
By B. J. Lewis (Highlands Ranch, CO)


Did you know that global livestock production is responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gasses -- MORE THAN TRANSPORTATION? In this concise, well-written book, statistics like that leap off the pages. Here's another one: "If we all ate the equivalent of three fewer cheeseburgers a week, we'd cancel out the effects of ALL THE SUV'S IN THE COUNTRY!"

Mr. Bittman knows how to get one's attention. But he follows these and other startling statistics with calm and rational thinking. Radical is OUT; common sense is IN. His recommendations for change are not based on deprivation. Neither are they faddist nor elitist. Stock your pantry with whole grains, beans, and your refrigerator with washed greens, vegetables and fruit. READ THOSE LABELS when you shop. Avoid hydrogenated anything, MSG, high fructose corn syrup or anything containing an ingredient you've never heard of. Most of us know this; Bittman just has a talent for presenting it concisely and entertainingly.

He knows we are not immune to unhealthy cravings and deals with it intelligently. For example, if you love bacon, "Keep a hunk in the freezer or fridge and use it for seasoning. An ounce goes a long way." And when the flavor of butter is indispensable in a certain dish, think of it as an occasional pleasure -- a little reward for following the essential principles presented in this book for the majority of the time.

The recipes are extremely easy -- familiar to most everyone. But he adds many creative touches; for example: seasoning blends that you can make and store, ready to add a little punch here and there. No insipid, bland, I-hate-this-but-it's-good-for-me nonsense for this gourmet author.

I've already started putting this book into practice. And I believe, if asked, he would give me permission to make (maybe only once a year and sliced very, very thinly) my favorite pâté, Mr. Bittman's own Country Pâté from the NY Times.

My advice: Buy it and READ it.

An Appealing Approach to Sane Eating Without Sacrificing Pleasure, December 23, 2008
By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON "herculodge" (Torrance, CA USA)


Mark Bittman's Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating is a guidebook for the typical American eating the typical American diet--heavy laden with meat, animal products, and processed foods. This typical American diet, Bittman points out, is calorie-dense, harmful to the atmosphere, taxing on global resources, and unhealthy. Bittman easily mixes scientific research with his own personal account of needing to lose weight due to high cholesterol and sleep apnea and shows that shifting his diet by emphasizing vegetables, legumes, and beans over meats and processed food helped him reach his weight and health goals without resorting to rigid dieting and calorie-counting. Let me make it clear here that Bittman is not advocating vegetarianism. He allows himself a little meat during his dinner meal and incorporates some meat in the recipe section of his book.

A food journalist and cook book writer (his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has been praised by icon Mario Batali) divides his book into two sections. The first section, Food Matters, lays down the reasons we need to shift from meat and processed foods to vegetables, fresh produce, legumes and beans. If you've already read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food, this information won't be new to you. But it is a good recap of the incremental way the typical American diet has become unhealthy, burdensome to the environment, and "insane."

I think one area Bittman differs from Pollan is that I see an undercurrent of horror and disgust Bittman feels for the way animals are treated in the farming industry. While not embracing vegetarianism, Bittman wants to lower the demand of animal products (sadly, he shows world statistics that show that developing countries are actually demanding MORE meat than ever).

The second section of Bittman's book, the recipe section, is excellent, not just for the 75 recipes and suggested menus, but for the basic foods he says you should always keep stocked in your kitchen and the secrets for adding bold flavors to your meals.

Bittman's call for sane eating has much in common with the aforementioned Michael Pollan and readers with an interest in intelligent, healthy eating without sacrificing pleasure will want to read Mark Bittman's Food Matters, Michael Pollan's food books, and Brian Wansink's Mindless Eating.

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