book circle: april

last month's book was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by michael pollan. it was fascinating.

really, you ask, a book about diet and nutrition?

really. i promise. it was so interesting.

i admit it's a little depressing, too, because exposes how industrial agri-business produces meat, dairy and produce that are nutritionally deficient and how a western diet based on refined sugars, oils, and grains is to blame for health problems ranging from obesity to diabetes, cancer, and tooth decay. somehow pollan manages to make the whole story interesting and even hopeful if you take home the message that supporting local farmers who grass-feed livestock and whose growing practices enrich the soil leads to better eating and that the health benefits of a changed diet can be measured in as little as a few weeks.

here is the gist of his book, and he lays it out right there on the cover: "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

by food, pollan means whole foods--things not sold in wrappers, boxes, or packages. he convincingly argues that whole foods are more than the sum of their parts and that simply adding "good" nutrients like vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, or fiber to snacks, cereals, breads, pastas, and yogurts does not make them healthy--especially when they are also "fortified" with high fructose corn syrup, soy-based oils, and unpronounceable mystery ingredients.

but it doesn't come across as preachy. instead, pollan manages to weave an compelling story from topics as varied as grain milling, history of food culture, best practices in agriculture, nutritional trends and fads, science, medicine, law, and pseudoscience.

i feel like i learned a lot, and it made me want to know more. i'm especially eager for the farmers' market to open in a few weeks, because until then there aren't a lot of local alternatives in food shopping (although friends we know do purchase milk and eggs from a nearby farm, and other friends buy a locally-raised pig.) thankfully, with jim's hunting, we don't buy much factory farm-raised meat (although eating out is another story...)

it made me want to learn to bake bread, although now that i know more about how nutritionally bankrupt white flour is, i wonder where i can purchase stone-ground wheat flour? i also want to try my hand at making condiments like ketchup. i know, it's anathema for a pittsburgh girl to turn her back on heinz, but i'd like to do without the high fructose corn syrup.

it was probably the book that lead me to spend friday afternoon picking dandelion greens from my yard and cooking them up for dinner. admittedly, they were less than delicious, but a least i know that the bitterness (which is bred out of most industrially-farmed produce) comes from its ability to defend itself from predators and is indicative of high nutrient content.

i'm pretty sure knowing that led me to by kale this week as well. i made this recipe for dinner, and it was a huge hit--dylan and jim both gobbled the tofu, if you can believe it! delish:)

so i liked yet another book circle choice. that's three for three:) penny is the circle's hostess, and she'll soon have other people's reactions posted as well.


Penny said...

Great summary :) My copy from the library only just came in so I'm still reading it.. nearly done though.

Like you I'm considering doing more in the bread making department. I can get stone ground white flour from my organic store. Unfortunately I think it's imported but I shall have to check. :)

And I must get back into the garden and get it settled for winter! I've done 2 beds...

Anonymous said...

Here's a funky kale recipe I found online and tried:

Kale Chips
Break the kale into bite-size pieces.
Spray with oil (I guess canola or olive would do).
Sprinkle with salt (I used seasoned salt--garlic salt was recommended).
Bake 10 minutes or until crispy but not browned.

Smells funky, tastes yummy. You could close your eyes and imagine it's a potato chip. Like I said--it's weird, but I liked it!

Hope you all are well!
~Autumn B.

Misty said...

oooh i saw that kale chip recipe before, too, and it still sounds yummy! :)
i have yet to read the pollan book, but i've watned to for some time now... you've reminded me it's time!
we are really, really trying to get away from the boxed stuff. now if only my 2 yr old would give up the mac n cheese! sigh...
and good job on the morrels!
how're you feeling these days?

Mary Ann Hartzell said...

Great post! Daddy and I have had fresh dandelion green salad several times this spring. It's delicious, and if you pick it before it flowers, it isn't even really bitter. Of course your father with his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage likes it best with hot bacon dressing so that may delete all the good we are doing! We also frequently saute beet greens or kale with slivers of garlic and drizzled in olive oil and both are yummy.

Jenney said...

Will have to read that book!
I just started buying eggs from a friend who has free-range chickens with no medications pumped into them TONIGHT. I am so excited to try them for breakfast!

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