An intelligent rallying cry for anyone seeking a safe and healthy food supply, and all that entails.

A BONE TO PICK

THE GOOD AND BAD NEWS ABOUT FOOD, ALONG WITH WISDOM AND ADVICE ON DIETS, FOOD SAFETY, GMOS, FARMING, AND MORE

When a book begins with an essay titled “A Food Manifesto for the Future,” you know the author is on a mission.

Food writer Bittman’s (How to Cook Everything Fast, 2014, etc.) collection of previously published New York Times articles deftly deconstructs how America’s reliance on fossil fuels, the cruel mass production of animals, and an overuse of hyperprocessed junk foods have created a food system in tatters and left many Americans sick. Regular readers of the Times will know Bittman’s work. However, by gathering the articles into a complete narrative, the compilation provides an all-inclusive look at the author’s findings across a range of topics. For those readers unfamiliar with Bittman’s knowledge of the issues, it makes grasping a multifaceted subject less daunting. Moreover, if at times the author repeats some points, it matters little compared to the importance of the information. Written between 2008 and 2014, the articles are arranged topically rather than chronologically. This structure allows readers to grasp the evolution of issues such as the sustainability (or not) of big agriculture; the issues surrounding the production and consumption of meat; what constitutes real food; dieting; the various ways America’s food chain fails its citizens; and how legislation and labeling affect what we eat. Bittman bolsters his conclusions with the voices of numerous scientists, and he calls out big pharma and industrialized agriculture for the use of antibiotics in meat. He also scolds the food industry for its workers’ low wages. The author’s keen analysis of the weakness of the Food and Drug Administration and its failures regarding food safety proves especially informative and enraging. Bittman successfully links a sound food system not just to the tastes of foodies (a word the author dislikes), but also to larger public health issues.

An intelligent rallying cry for anyone seeking a safe and healthy food supply, and all that entails.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8041-8654-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pam Krauss Books

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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McWilliams presents a solid argument, though it is not as radical or inspiring as he may have hoped, and the book could use...

EATING PROMISCUOUSLY

ADVENTURES IN THE FUTURE OF FOOD

A food writer and historian argues that humans would be healthier with a more diverse diet.

McWilliams (History/Texas State Univ.; The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, 2015, etc.) continues the attack on foodies, locavores, highbrow restaurants, and agribusiness’s “corn-soy-sugar-animal complex” that he mounted in previous books. Here, the author profiles quirky individuals who are “pursuing peripheral culinary goals” that “have the potential to revolutionize how we think about the human diet.” The author’s overriding assumption is that it would be better for people, animals, and the environment if our diets were more diversified. Hundreds of plants and protein sources, he rightly notes, are overlooked in favor of a narrow range of food. McWilliams hopes for a “global food system that’s accessible, flexible, abundant, sustainable, healthy, humane, and resourceful.” How that ideal could be achieved is left to readers’ imaginations. The author champions the bonobo, which eats a diverse array of plants, insects, grubs, and shellfish, and cavemen, who hunted and foraged for all their food. McWilliams begins by focusing on the Reeds, obese parents and son who have been victimized, he contends, by “a food system that rendered them emotionally depressed, physically sick, and socially ostracized.” Determined to lose weight, they embarked on a diet and exercise program and achieved success within a short time. However, as the author acknowledges, their struggle will be lifelong, embedded as they are in a food culture intent on undermining them. Among others profiled are a family that exists on foraged plants and venison, felled with a bow and arrow; a man who gathers and sells seaweed; an insect farmer promoting the nutritional value of bugs; oyster farmers; and a motley group of freegans, who forage among trash bags outside of markets and restaurants. Sadly, writes the author, over 40 percent of food in America is thrown out.

McWilliams presents a solid argument, though it is not as radical or inspiring as he may have hoped, and the book could use more focused attention on creating the ideal world the author envisions.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-735-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A realistic, motivating conversation about weight loss for those who have tried everything else and failed.

THE JOY OF EATING

Part memoir and part pep talk, this debut book urges dieters to stop counting fat grams and learn to enjoy food.

When her mother died, Irwin was devastated. She was also mortified that old friends would see her at the funeral because she had “gained so much weight.” Trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting that had begun when she was in junior high, Irwin was a size 22 by the time she was in her 40s. Miserable, she constantly berated herself while agonizing over calories and eating prepackaged diet industry food. Then one day Irwin decided to stop dieting and love herself at any weight, eating without guilt or shame. A big believer in the “law of attraction,” where thoughts create reality, she began thinking positively about herself. Retraining her mind to view food as pleasurable nourishment, she started eating nutrient-dense items—including leafy green vegetables and fruits. And if she wanted a piece of cake—well, she just went ahead and devoured it. The pounds began coming off naturally, and as time passed, Irwin’s once overweight body became fit. This dramatic and familiar life story quickly turns into an upbeat motivational speech for stressed-out dieters, as Irwin divulges her no-frills secret for healthy weight loss—eat good food and feel great about it. While this common-sense approach isn’t new, diet-disgusted readers who don’t mind a curse word or two may be able to relate to Irwin’s friendly, plainspoken voice, as when she describes dysfunctional labels people often place on food: “How about this classic attitude, ‘Fuck it, I’ve been so bad this week I think I’ll just eat the rest of this box of cookies’?” Some of the author’s inspirational thoughts are memorable: she compares the negative voice in her head to a bully who shouldn’t be tolerated. Light on diet jargon and health-related facts (the author mentions that 68.5 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, but she doesn't cite sources), this thin, fast-paced work can be read in a couple of hours.

A realistic, motivating conversation about weight loss for those who have tried everything else and failed.    

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6051-7

Page Count: 124

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

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