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Food Matters

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Matters (2009) Mark Bittman

I really like Mark Bittman’s cookbooks. His How to Cook Everything is well written, clear and concise. So when I heard he’d written something of a food manifesto a la Michael Pollan, I was very curious to see what he had to say.

First, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan for moral reasons, you’re not really going to learn much from this book. The same if you’re already a fan of Micahel Pollan’s writings.

And really, if you’re educated at your health and how diet affects your health, there are no surprises here either.

However. He makes his points in relationship to what works for him, and is quite clear that different people may find success in different ways. What works for him is being as vegan as possible until 6pm, after which he can eat whatever he wants. He also tries to avoid ALL junk food. He calls this “sane eating” and it is a way to eat that most people could follow if they tried. There are no hard and fast rules (for example, he has milk in his morning coffee, because he likes milk in his coffee), but it does require considering what you eat.

And unlike Michael Pollan’s books, he provides menus and recipes that work for him (he is a cookbook author after all). I have not tried any of the recipes yet (I reached that part of the book AFTER I broke my ankle) but from previous experience I expect the recipes to be easy to follow, and written for a modern cook with time constraints to be able to follow.

As I said, if you’re already a conscious eater, there isn’t going to be much here that is a surprise, although there are menus and recipes. But it is a good book, soundly written, and he takes pains to point out that for a diet to work, it has to be flexible and you can’t have “forbidden” foods. He doesn’t go into the science nearly as much as Pollan, but then the second half of the book is dedicated to menus and recipes, so he doesn’t really have the room for it.

Then again, I wonder if the average reader even wants the details and the science. He supports his arguments with facts, but doesn’t delve into a lot of details.

All in all, a good read.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Simon & Schuster


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