Recommended Books About Food

The day before Christmas, and for those of you haven’t quite finished shopping, here are some last minute gift suggestions for anyone interested in food.  The following are among my favorite books, all published within the last few years, and all well-written, informative and most of them entertaining.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is the true story of her family’s recent exodus from dry and dusty Tucson to the lush hills of Virginia.  Vowing to live for one year only on the food they could produce or trade for locally, the family chronicles their adventures into food production.  Olive oil, coffee and chocolate were among the non-local indispensible items included.  A monthly report of their challenges and triumphs in Kingsolver’s witty and conversational style, with seasonal recipes and an absolutely hilarious account of courtship in their turkey flock, makes this book great fun to read.

Many of us have read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, an eye-opening discussion of common practices in the meat industry, from “factory farms” to the wildly successful Polyface Farm on the east coast, completely sustainably farmed.  Pollan travels to farms across the country, working for a time at each when possible, chronicling his findings.  A must-read for all meat-eaters.

Pollan’s follow-up book was published earlier this year, exposing fallacies and contradictions in conventional nutritional recommendations, and offering cutting edge information about our food and food systems.  In Defense of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto is thoroughly researched and beautifully written in an accessible style, and highly recommended.

I believe in the concept of eating real food, whole foods as opposed to processed and prepared foods.  The book I rely on for the physiology of nutrition, for how our bodies need and use nutrients, is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  It explains in laymen’s terms why nutrition is important to health, how vitamins, minerals and enzymes work.  It explains why processed foods cannot meet our needs, and why our health is suffering as a result of their widespread use.  It is chock full of studies debunking much of current thinking about food today.  Real food is still eggs and cheese and broccoli.  We need to get back to eating them if we want to be healthy and function at optimal levels at school, at work, and at home.

The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniel, PhD. is an important book detailing the misconceptions and fallacies about the nutritional properties of soy.  This book is very important reading for anyone deriving protein needs from soy.  Know Your Fats by Mary Enig, PhD is a scholarly work by the foremost authority on trans-fats in the U.S.  Not a fun read, it is a thorough account of oils and fats in use in the U.S., the importance of fats in our diet, and how they affect our health.  Other good books include The Heart Revolution by Kilmer McCully, MD about the importance of B vitamins for heart health by controlling homocysteine levels, and ways to control the rampant inflammation common today.

Merry Christmas, and as always, bon appétit!

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