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Books – The Essential Good Food Guide

July 15, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARather than a list of what to avoid, this is a reminder of the good food choices that surround us and what to do with it. Perhaps I’m reading as a food snob. We know what we believe in, and produce. So many food books anymore are less about educating about food and more about converting to the author’s food choices.

In The Essential Good Food Guide, author Margaret M. Wittenberg has made an outstanding effort in just answering questions. She describes organic, biodynamic, heirlooms, local and other food claims. Clearly, she has her preferences – we all do! – but this strives to give information and let you, the reader, decide rather than trying to tell you what you should buy. It’s an easy read, with every day language to help you navigate the food ocean of information and choices we’re blessed to have.

There’s concise, fantastic information on storing fruits and vegetables at home, including what should not be refrigerated, what’s ok to freeze or get canned.  She points out why eating fresh, raw food *and* cooked food can be a benefit.

Many items that one only finds direct from the farmer are covered here. If you’re looking at something like our farm shares, or CSA shares, or diving in to farmer’s markets, this book is a gold mine of information. She includes edible flowers (yes we have those!) and herbs, and introduces readers to things many have not been aware of.

Unlike many healthy food books, she includes not just produce and herbs, but grains, meats, dairy and all of the food groups, allowing the reader to decide what they want to eat. Extensive information on flour (and dozens of options for making flour) and breads is included also.

Pastas, beans, nuts and more all get thorough treatment as to storage and introduction to what many see as unfamiliar items. I even found a few I’m looking into offering in farm shares!

The section on meats mentioned rabbit too – a few extra gold stars there! There was mention made of many claims from non genetically reared to kosher and beyond. While balanced, I thought it stopped short of telling consumers at this time genetically reared animals (those with genes from other animals) aren’t commercially available (i.e. all meats are not genetically modified), it’s a small point in an otherwise very enjoyable read. Seafood, too, gets a thorough treatment, including some great information on aquaculture.

The dairy section held a surprise – with mention of not just cattle and goats but sheep, water buffalo and a pretty comprehensive cheese guide. Eggs, culinary oils, seasonings and sweeteners all get a look.

While there’s a few minor points, in the overall scheme of things, it’s really not worth mentioning. This is an awesome book that scores an out of the park home run.

Understand what it is and isn’t – it’s not a cookbook, really. Although there are many ways listed to use grains, flours and other things to say it’s a cookbook sells it short. It’s a guide to the range of tastes, colors, looks and opportunities that can make up our food supply. It’s a guide to what we do at SlowMoneyFarm and how to take that and make it delicious meals for your family. It has information and processing tips to eliminate the middleman – you take that role – and eat fresher, better and healthier.

While I previewed the copy on NetGalley for free, I have also ordered a hard copy, and put the book in our store front – a few pennies to our projects if ordered there. In many reviews, few get recommended to hold those spots – we’re selective because I want great value for folks when I recommend a book. This is a great value. So much so I’m considering including a copy for free to our customers at the higher levels of farm shares. It’s that valuable.

It’s not just hundreds of food options but how to best *use* those food options. Excellent resource!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2013 11:37 AM

    Reblogged this on Southern Tastes, Traditions, Choices and commented:

    Make the most of your farm shares, CSA and other direct purchase foods. Explore the food highways!

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  1. Reading Addictions | Food, Farm, Life Choices

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