Love to Eat? Three Books About Food

Apple-Rhubarb Pandowdy, from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

One of my readers, SuZen, commented on my recent “Woman Up” post.  She wrote, in part, “…The Food Industry and the whole issue of GMOs (genetically modified) is all but being ignored by most of the population who naively believe the government that food safety laws are in place for their “protection”. Women not only give birth, but feed and nurture. Wouldn’t you think that they would wake up to dangers of consuming most of the crap in the grocery stores? Women, of ALL people, should tune in to this, start demanding better labeling, boycott brands that are phudes. We vote with our pocket books – but we are not!”

Like SuZen, I am troubled by our system of industrialized farming. It creates so many problems on so many levels, from energy waste to animal cruelty.  Even the nutritional values of what author Michael Pollan calls “Frankenfoods” is appalling compared to those of fresh, local food.

I suspect that many people are still unaware of the problems with GMOs, in part because the industry is so successful in its marketing efforts. I remember being surprised the first time I tasted a farmers’ market carrot. It was as though I had forgotten how a carrot was supposed to taste! I’ve also tended to hold my nose when eating greens, because I haven’t been fond of them. Now, eating chard from my garden and kale from the market, I’m in love with greens, because they’re filled with flavor!

There are a lot of great books out these days about growing and making healthful, nutritious food. I’ve chosen three to write about today that approach the subject matter from different but complementary angles.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

A friend recommended this book to me, and I’m so grateful! I knew of Kingsolver as a novelist, but I didn’t know that she was a woman after my own heart. AVM is part memoir, part food education, and part recipes. Written with her husband, Steven L. Hopp, and daughter Camille, Kingsolver takes us into a year in their life. They have uprooted from Tucson to live in Appalachia.  For a year, they agree to eat only locally produced food, including that which they grow in their own garden. While Kingsolver provides thoughtful reflections, Hopp discusses the facts, the science, and the benefits of eating in this manner. Daughter Camille provides additional reflections and recipes.

One update since this book was printed in 2007:  Kingsolver wrote that Territorial Seed, a seed company, purchased some of its seeds from Monsanto. Since I had bought some seeds from Territorial (before learning that our local farmers’ market sells organic seeds), I worried that I had unwittingly put some pennies into Monsanto’s pocket. Apparently Monsanto had bought a seed company that was a source for Territorial, but Territorial has since terminated that relationship.

The Three Season Diet by Dr. John Douillard

Dr. Douillard suggests that the reason so many fad diets don’t work long-term is that our bodies are seasonal. He says that we need more  greens in the spring to cleanse our bodies, carbohydrates in the summer when we’re more active, and proteins and fats in the winter. He provides evidence for his rationale, along with substantial food lists and recipes. He says that the more we eat on a seasonal basis, the more our bodies will naturally respond and start to desire the foods that are right for us.

I don’t particularly care for all the analysis of other diets that he includes in his book, but there’s good stuff in here, and hubby and I are moving more and more to seasonal foods. Since we are now buying virtually all our veggies at the farmers’ market, it’s easier to do. Right now, in my fridge we have kale, mustard greens, chard, spinach, lettuce, and kale raab. I’ve also been making a lot of nettle soup, though there were no nettles at the market this week! I guess their season is coming to a close.

But for some really good recipes, and an enticement to eat seasonally…

A lovely seasonal souffle made with all-local ingredients. Yep, it tasted good, too!

Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

If you’re like me, you don’t always know what to do with all these yummy foods. Madison to the rescue! In this stunning book filled with stories and information about farmers’ markets, Madison provides mouth-watering ideas for preparing local foods. Like that pandowdy photo? I grew up in Illinois picking and eating raw rhubarb — I love its tart taste! The sweetness of apple offers a nice counterbalance.

Big changes don’t happen overnight, but if you begin to buy organic where possible, especially at a farmers’ market, or even grow a tomato plant in a pot or herbs in your kitchen window, you’ll be helping yourself, your family, and your planet. Bon appetit!

Okay, this isn’t food, but the Supermoon the other night was awesome, and I had to share!

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