Monday, January 25, 2010

Food Matters: A Reverse Book Review

After a brief hiatus, I'm back with lots of new information and ideas to get more veggies into your life!

First though, I want you to go get yourself a snack and something to drink and settle in for an entertaining and enlightening half hour of Mark Bittman discussing his new book, Food Matters. Click here for the video. (If you don't have 30 minutes, you can also listen to selected bits of it, which run in roughly 5 minute chunks.)

Bittman, a longtime food writer for the New York Times, says that, "shifting the balance of what we eat is the top priority." The typical American eats half a pound of meat every day -- and an additional one-and-a-half pounds of animal products, such as butter, eggs, and milk. Taken together, this amounts to two-thirds of the American diet originating with animals.

With animal agriculture comes a host of catastrophic problems: increased emission of greenhouse gases; animal cruelty; and numerous diseases of over-nutrition, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. All are part and parcel of a society that eats primarily animal products.

To Bittman, the key to heading off these dire consequences is shifting the balance. Reducing our animal consumption by 10 percent, would reduce greenhouse emissions and diet-induced disease by 10 percent each. As I've said before in this blog, it's not an all-or-nothing. Big changes are the result of many, many small changes. Skip the burger once a week and replace it with a slice of veggie pizza and you're making a difference. Really.

Along those lines, Bittman promotes what he terms "less-meat-terianism." This means that you don't have to bite off more than you can chew, so to speak, of the vegetarian lifestyle. Do what you can, one meal at a time. Bittman himself follows a diet he calls "vegan-til-6;" that is, he eats vegan and eliminates the junk in his diet until 6 pm. In the evening, he eats whatever he wants.

Bittman is exceptionally articulate, easy to follow, and an entertaining listen. I look forward to reading Food Matters.

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