Sunday, November 8, 2009

Old cookbooks - old lessons that still fit with today's wave of eating green and local

You may have noticed that most of my posts and recipes don't use or discuss meat or dairy products.  I am not a vegetarian but I was once for 9 years.  I feature local, in season, fruit, vegetables and whole grains as most people need to include more of them in their diet so they can live well with less health problems like diabetes, cancer, constipation, heart disease and obesity.  But, I also know it is better for the environment.

A study published last year in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that reducing red meat and dairy consumption is far more effective than buying locally-produced food for reducing greenhouse gases. In fact, the researchers estimated that reducing consumption of these foods by just 11-19% was as effective as 100% local buying!  Food for thought.

When I was 17 I was strongly influenced by Frances Moore Lappé and her book "Diet for a Small Planet."   It has sold 3 million copies and the 20th anniversary edition is now for sale.   Following are a few excerpts of her biography posted at Wikipedia.

"Throughout her works Lappé has argued that world hunger is caused not by the lack of food but rather by the inability of hungry people to gain access to the abundant amount of food that exists in the world and/or food-producing resources because they are simply too poor. She has posited that our current "thin democracy" creates a maldistribution of power and resources that inevitably creates waste and an artificial scarcity of the essentials for sustainable living."

"Lappé makes the radical argument that what she calls "living democracy," i.e. not only what we do in the voting booth but through our daily choices of what we buy and how we live, provides a mental and behavioral framework of goods and goodness that is aligned with our basic human nature. She believes that only by "living democracy" can we effectively solve today's social and environmental crises."
Her daughter Anna came alongside and is now also doing all kinds of amazing work.  I have a copy of Anna's newer book called Grub, ideas for an urban organic kitchen.  The beauty of what Frances and Anna write is that is it well researched!  Dietitians like that.  All the facts are researched and uncovered and you get recipes that reflect their beliefs and values.  In the foreword Anna says "learning where our modern food comes from and how it's made and what it's doing in the world leaves a bitter aftertaste."  The book will help you make healthy food choices and prepare mouth-watering meals while unmasking corporate flimflam and supporting sustainable farming.  She says her complete guide is for the young, the hip, the socially tuned-in - and for all who want to eat real food.  She tells you how to set up your kitchen and gives socially responsible vegetarian recipes that follow the four seasons.

Follow this link to Anna's getcha grub on blog.  Anna lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is working on a new book about food and climate change and launching the “Take a Bite Out of Climate Change” campaign.

When I was 21 years old I was given a copy of the More-with-Less cookbook at Christmas from my parents.  This recipe compilation is from Mennonites living around the world and it showed people how to eat better but consume less of the world's limited resources.  I was just learning to run my own kitchen, shop and cook and I found it full of frugal and practical recipes.  Most of the old standbys are covered, along with more around the globe recipes from the Carribean, Egypt, Indian, Paraguay, Vietnam, Mexico, and Russia.  It's an excellent source for vegetarian and less-meat recipes.  It was commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pennsylvania in 1976 in response to the growing world demand for food.  The 25th Anniversary Edition is now for sale.  My copy sold for $8.95 but it now sells for $31.95!

Between these two sources I was guided to eat less meat and expand my culinary horizons.  All of these books make wonderful Christmas gifts for curious and novice cooks interested in the environment and green eating.  The older books are like buying a positive piece of history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blog entry Nancy, I have the same old copy of Diet for a Small Planet and its such a great intro to why we should decrease our meat consumption – whether its dated or not, the message is so important! Thanks for sharing,