Reading Mark Bittman’s new book, Food Matters feels as good as cleaning out a closet—it’s so energizing to get rid of some of the old stuff and make room for something new and fresh. His wisdom follows along that of Michael Pollan who wrote both The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, but his take on the subject is a very personal and practical perspective.
He begins by describing his personal evolution as he has thought about food for the past 30+ years. As general concerns grow about the origins of our food supply, his have too and he describes his “increasing disgust with the way most meat is grown in this country.” He also describes how his close engagement with this food supply had helped him to reach the age of 57 carrying an extra 50 pounds with resulting high cholesterol, high blood sugar and sleep apnea.
Reacting to this awareness caused him to invent a new way of living; “vegan until six.” He cut out sugars, white flours, processed foods and most animal products during the day. At night, he ate as before with the change being “more vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains and less meat, sugar, junk food, and over refined carbohydrates.” He continued to enjoy a glass of wine or two, and also admits to occasionally indulging in the old comfort of a hamburger or French fries. He says, “Remember, this is not about deprivation or ironclad rules, but about being sensible.
I have several of his cookbooks, and have always liked his straightforward, no-nonsense approach to food. His moniker “the Minimalist” (he is the author of the “Minimalist” column, which runs weekly in the Dining section of The New York Times) is perfect for his style—simple ingredients, clarity of instruction—and voila! Anyone can cook good food. In Food Matters, he takes the concept to the next level. From his previous books, he has culled some of the simplest and most healthful recipes and restated them—along with the suggestion that we can all stop dieting, lose weight painlessly, and help the planet restore some sanity to the food-growing process. He makes a lot of sense, especially when he acknowledges that no one eats like this all of the time—and that even if you only follow this plan some of the time, you will see a positive difference. That seems sensible and doable. I enjoyed this book immensely—so much so that I returned my library copy and went out and bought my own to keep.
Food Matters, A Guide to Conscious Eating, by Mark Bittman; 2009; Simon and Schuster.
If you would like more information about this book click here: Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes.