By Mark Bittman (Simon and Schuster, 2009)
If you like New York Times food writer Mark Bittman’s Minimalist column, his classic cookbooks, or his terrific blog, Bitten, you’ll love his most recent book on our geared-to-consume industrial food system, and how smart eaters can best navigate the often confounding choices it presents. Bittman shows how moderating our consumption of meat and processed food can significantly slow the progress of global warming: Switching to a vegetable-based diet only one day a week is equivalent to driving 1,160 fewer miles in a year. Meanwhile, we get less fattening fare, better nutrition and a smaller grocery bill. Bittman calls this a “food matters” approach, which simply means reducing meat, eliminating junk food and giving vegetables a place of honor. (It’s a tactic that helped him shed 35 pounds without much effort.) Along with its clear-eyed account of factory farming and food-industry tactics, plus the pros and cons of organics, the book details Bittman’s own transition to more conscious eating and provides 77 easy-to-make recipes. The best synthesis of smart-eating advice we’ve seen, with a pleasure-focused orientation that will delight foodies of all stripes.