I think I heard about this book from Salon, and I probably found it on Salon because I was looking for information the illustrious Michael Pollan, who I adore. But when I read this Salon review, I knew I had to get a hold of this book – here would be a book that would help me put into practice, practically (like that?), what Pollan has told me in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Here I would finally figure out how to eat healthily and responsibly. . . you can see I had high hopes for Bittman’s book. . .

and he delivered. The book gives a short breakdown of much of what Pollan says about corporate farming, organic food, meat eating, etc. . . and he does so with verve. (If you find Pollan long-winded, which I don’t but hear some do, Bittman is probably a good choice for you.) In this book, Bittman describes why people should eat less meat and animal products (sigh – I guess I really can’t eat as much cheese as I’d like) and why they should slow down, enjoy their food, and appreciate. It advocates no diet beyond this. There’s no calorie counting; no foods that are off-limits; no rules about how to eat or in what combinations our foods should come in. Instead, he simply tells the story of how he eats – vegan until dinner and then anything he wants for dinner. . . . sounds pretty good (except for that no cheese before 5pm thing). . . And it seems to work for him.

Perhaps the best parts of the book, though, are the shopping lists (who knew coconut milk was so important?) and recipes that comprise the last third of the book. Here I found great recipes for rice pudding (hence, the coconut milk), pasta, even grilled seafood and such – all made with the freshest of ingredients but all reasonable – no saffron necessary.

So I’ve been trying out some stuff – I’m putting rice milk and stevia in my coffee in the morning. I’m trimming back on my dairy consumption (cheese lasts a lot longer in my fridge these days). I’m eating more veggies and whole grains. None of these is life-changing for me since I was a fairly organic-eating vegetarian before. . . But the idea of allowing myself to revel in food, as Bittman encourages, because Food Does Matter . . . that one I’m still soaking in. I’m trying to eat more meals at a table (not at a desk or in a car); I’m having more regular meals with friends; I’m cooking more. . . and I feel happy about that.

Now the 35 pounds that Bittman lost when he started this method of eating . . . that I’ve yet to see.
Food Matters by Mark BittmanFood Matters by Mark Bittman