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“Any book is a summer book.” Nancy Pearl, Librarian
Summer season is a good time to reconnect with your health goals, learn new cooking techniques, and get inspired by the best in the food world this year.
Here are my favorite summer reading picks for “real” foodies:
1. It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.”
The Hartwig’s are the creators of the Whole30, a 30-day “nutritional reset” that helps you find your optimal diet. It Starts with Food expands on the science of their program and clearly outlines the whys and hows of a healthy diet.
It Starts with Food is my favorite nutrition/food book of the year and will be my “go-to” to anyone dealing with chronic health issues or looking for optimal health.
The title itself is brilliant in its simplicity – yet how many of us, or even medical professionals, actually get it? Our food choices have profound effects on our health but in our current culture eating healthy is not always simple. Food is emotional (they cover all that), controversial (learn why it’s more about your hormones than how many calories you’re consuming), and powerful (it can create chronic systemic inflammation that’s at the root cause to many of our modern diseases).
There’s plenty of science to back up their “less” healthy and “more” healthy food choices. And they clearly explain the immune/gut connection and give a good primer on how hormones contribute to food cravings, unhealthy relationships to food, and weight gain.
The testimonials, shopping guide, meal planning tips, and recipes make it all practical to incorporate it in your day to day life.
But most important for a summer reading pick – this book is not boring. This is one nutrition book you’ll actually enjoy reading (though I do read nutrition books for pleasure…).
2. Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen
by Alex Lewin
Fermentation is a process that preserves food, enhances its nutrition, promotes healthy digestion and enhanced immunity. Before canning or refrigeration, cultures throughout the world fermented their foods – it’s the oldest form of food preservation. Many of our favorite foods are fermented; wine, beer, bread, yogurt, cheese, miso, saurkraut, and kimchi.
These are also some of the foods that many of us (especially the germaphobes out there) are afraid to make at home. But you can learn to do this at home. Alex Lewin shows you the practical skills you need in this beautifully photographed book. Real Food Fermentation introduces you to the basic process and tools and teaches you how to ferment vegetables, dairy, fruit condiments, beverages, and meats.
Two other recently published books on fermentation to consider is Wardeh Harmon’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods and Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation.
3. Best Food Writing 2011
Edited by Holly Hughes
Book compilations are great for summer reading, especially if you’re traveling, or don’t want to commit to a long novel.
Did you know there even was one for food writing? Holly Hughes has been editing the best food writing series for the past 12 years. Best Food Writing 2011 takes the year’s best in blogs, magazines, newspapers, and journals and compiles them into seven categories including; “Gulity Pleasures”, “Food Fights”, and “Home Cooking.” It’s not surprising to find Colman Andrews, Deborah Madison, and Francis Lam included, but with 45 contributors you are sure to discover some new voices of the culinary world.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with the explosion in food writing – I’m glad there is someone out there condensing it into one place – thanks Holly!
4. The Good Food Revolution
by Will Allen
With all the politics and injustices involved in our broken food system, it’s refreshing to read about outstanding individuals and communities who are rising above these challenges. Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, is one of these remarkable people.
You may recognize Will Allen if you watched the movies Food, Inc.and Fresh. He is an urban farmer who turned a 2 acre plot in the middle of a food desert in Milwaukee into a food and educational center that’s revitalizing the community. He tells his story in The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities.
“Half a century after Willie Mae (Allen’s mother) left Ridge Spring, in an unlikely development, I returned to a profession that she and her family had tried so hard to leave behind.”
This is a personal story about a true hero and about the African American experience. He believes resolving our food crisis “all comes down to the soil” and he proves you don’t have to leave the city to do just that.
He may be right – there has been an explosion of books on urban homesteading in the past few years. Urban agriculture will have a tremendous impact resolving our failing industrial food system. Another book came out this year exploring this issue, Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution by Jennifer Cockrall-King. (It’s on my reading list).
5. Imagine: How Creativity Works
By Jonah Lehrer
“For the first time in human history, it’s possible to learn how the imagination actually works.”
Ok – this isn’t a food or nutrition book, but Imagine: How Creativity Works is one of my favorite reads of the year and I couldn’t leave it out. And creativity applies to anything you do – from managing your home to creating sustainable solutions to our food system.
Lehrer’s book explores how creativity works with real world examples and how all of us can use it more effectively.
Though there was some criticism on the validity of the science explored in the book, you can’t help but be inspired by the stories of creativity that Lehrer shares: from Bob Dylan writing “Like a Rolling Stone” and the Israeli tech boom, to how the Swiffer was invented. He does this without taking all the magic out of it;
“There will always be something slightly miraculous about the imagination.”
What books are you reading this summer?