About a month ago, I visited my local library to pick up a few books.  During this particular visit, I didn’t go in with a list of books I wanted to check out, but instead, just browsed around and looked at things that seemed interesting. 

The section I always end up gravitating towards is where all the nutrition/healthy living books are.  And that is where I found this awesome book – Food Matters by Mark Bittman.

At first, Food Matters looked like a diet book (mainly because of the recipes in the back).  I even put it back on the shelf before picking it up again and taking it home with me.  Library books are free after all!

After reading the first few pages, I came to realize that this book had a lot to offer.  Not only is it informative and well written, but Bittman’s style reads like a dinnertime conversation.

The first part of the book is all about the evolution of food, food consumption, and the effect our overconsumption is having on the environment, as well as the role our government plays in the Big Food industry, the marketing of different foods (example: the “Got Milk” campaign), and nutrition policy.  He then goes on to discuss conflicting nutritional studies, how they’re funded, and why they’re not helping Americans win the fight against diet-related diseases.

The next few chapters of Food Matters take on a more personal touch with Bittman talking about his “sane eating” philosophy, how he got healthy, and why he chooses to eat more plants than meat.  Something he talks a lot about is volume eating, which struck a cord with me.  The idea here is to eat more foods that have relatively few calories by volume

Bittman then goes a step further with his “sane eating” concept and talks about how to eat.  Here are a few of his simple principle:

– Eat fewer animal products than average.
– Eat all the plants you can manage.
– Make legumes part of your life.
– Whole grains beat refined carbs.
– Snack on nuts or olives.
– When it comes to fats, embrace olive oil.
– Allow yourself daily treats.

In the second part of Food Matters, Bittman describes his ideal pantry, reviews some basic cooking techniques, and shares some delicious sounding recipes (i.e., Pan-Cooked Greens with Tofu and Garlic). 

In case my review didn’t already give it away, I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about a simpler way of eating that is not based on completely removing entire food groups.  Bittman intellectually builds his case based on facts and data for why Americans should try to make plants the base of their meals and treat meat/dairy as a side dish.  I do understand that there are always two sides to the story, but if even 10% of what Bittman has to say is true, I’m glad I read this book.  I strongly believe in being an informed consumer and really appreciate books like Food Matters because they provide a different perspective that’s not always apparent. 

Even though a lot of the information provided is common sense and pretty basic, I still believe most people will walk away with at least a few new pieces of knowledge. 

And since I liked this book so much, I’m now reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I hear the two books are similar, with Pollan’s being a bit more information dense.  Can’t wait!

Have you read Food Matters?  Any other nutrition/healthy living books I should look into?

By Parita

0 thoughts on “Food Matters”
  1. Ohh thanks for the review, P! I haven’t read Food Matters but I may have to order it off Amazon- you know how all this talk fascinates me! And who knows, maybe I’ll actually finish the book….I’m still yet to finish a book I started in the 1st week of Jan #majorfail!

  2. This sounds like it would be a good audiobook for a road trip! I’ve read a lot of nonfiction books this way! Makes the drive go by faster, while learning some interesting stuff! I’ll have to see if my library has the audio version for my trip this weekend… 😉

  3. Great post. I agree, eating less meat is always better. I typically eat more vegetarian, but I do eat meat like 1 to 2 meals a week. I can’t say no to Salmon. 🙂 Indian food incorporates a lot of lentils and plants which is great. 🙂

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