Monday, December 30, 2013

Books about Food

I read quite a few books about food this year.  Some have been waiting around on my to-read list for a long while and some were impulse reads to keep up with this Paleo bandwagon we jumped on.  It started with some conscious food decisions (and a New Year's Challenge) and turned into so much more. Because really, what is the point of working out so hard to be happy with your body if you are just going to refuel it with a whole lot of crap.

The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolf) and the Paleo Diet (Loren Cordain) are both great starter books for anyone interested in Paleo eating. They lay out the basics of going grain and dairy free.   Both are pretty quick reads and have quite a bit of reference material to get you going.

If you are not sure about all the paleo hype, consider watching King Corn.  You can get it on Netflix even.  If nothing else you can chuckle at the clothing choices of the video subjects.  I may live out in the sticks but those Iowa boys are way behind the fashion times.  The short story of King Corn is two guys set out to determine how much corn Americans are really eating.  It all starts when they test their own hair samples and find them to be some ridiculously high percentage of corn.  Even if you aren't consuming huge amounts of corn on the cob or even canned corn for that matter, corn is used as a filler in a lot of products.

If you find King Corn even a smidge bit interesting, try watching Food Inc.  It's pitched a little bit more into the animal rights area, but that aside, it makes a good point.  Do you know where your food is coming from?  And is that smoking cheap deal on chicken really all that good?  Another good book, though it's not really about food is Animals in Translation.  In it Temple Grandin discusses how society has ruined certain breeds of food animals by aggressively breeding for a single trait.  The major example being breeding chickens for larger pieces of breast meat.  While focusing on this one trait, breeders have disrupted the normal mating behaviors and created rapist roosters.

If you aren't so sure about giving up your grains and beloved cheese, but still feel the urge to be more food conscious Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver) would be a good book for you.  It chronicles the successes and struggles of a family as they try to eat local for one entire year.  Local meaning a predetermine mile radius from their house.  If it wasn't grown or harvested within that area, it wasn't an option on the dinner table.  It's certainly a bigger undertaking than I would ever dream of but it definitely influenced what I planted in our garden this past year and influenced what and where we by our meat products.

Completely unrelated to food challenges and paleo propaganda, Blood, Bones, and Butter (Gabrielle Hamilton) had been on my to read list for quite a while.  It is more a memoir centered around good food.  And it will make you think twice about filling your children's childhood memories with happy meals and drive thrus.

I picked both Lords of the Harvest (Dan Charles) and Dinner at the New Gene Cafe (Bill Lambrecht) out of the footnotes of the Paleo Solution.  Both heavy on the science of genetic engineering and the legality of it but worth reading I thought.  I didn't realize just how many mainstream crops have had some sort of gene tampering with them.  Most people are aware of corn, soybean, and tomato engineering but there has also been work done in potato, rice, and several other crops.  These books are primarily the what and how facts and the legal battles that have cropped up because of it.  Legal battles such as the manufacturing of seeds and fertilizers, the monitoring of seed recycling, and the labeling of end products as genetically modified.




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