Reader reviews for Food Matters

Yes, much of the background was done better in Pollan. But the point of the book is to outline an "anti-diet" and show how it can be implemented. Bittman’s an excellent food writer, and he repeatedly takes a non-prescriptive approach to recipes, making it clear that there are many ways to get to the same general state of eating less animal protein and more plants. A good gift for the food-conflicted and halfway cooks who aren't converts to the sustainable food movement yet.
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This was an automatic purchase -- I enjoy Bittman's column, he was my favorite part of that Spain show, and I'm very interested in the subject matter. The usefulness of the first half depends on how much in this genre you've already read. It's consistent with what everyone else has said and relatively mellow about it. And having already read so much of that topic, I was mostly looking forward to the recipes. There are some good ones, but they do get redundant -- inevitable, maybe, when the range of ingredients is narrowed. Surprisingly, considering how many cookbooks he's already written, there were quite a few typos in the recipes. And a cross-reference from the recipes back to the sample menus would have been a huge help. Produce is definitely cheaper in NYC than it is out here; I wouldn't be able to regularly use these recipes for that reason alone. But I'll certainly try a few.
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a good reminder to cut back on the meat and carbs and the definite no-no's - junk food and pop; also includes recipes and a meal plan
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In Mark Bittman’s latest book, he claims he has discovered a method of eating that can help you lose weight, improve your health, save money and stop global warming. It sounds too good to be true, but his commonsense approach to food — as if it “matters,” hence the title — can do all of those things. It did for him.Here is his solution: Eat a lot less meat and dairy. Drastically reduce how much junk food you eat. Cut back on refined flour. Three simple rules, easy to remember and follow. And you don’t have to sacrifice anything, just cut back a lot. Think of meat, flour and sugar as “treats,” and treat yourself daily. But mostly eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The way Bittman does it is by eating mostly vegan during the day (I think he allows himself some yogurt and cheese), and then have whatever he wants for dinner. By making this simple change, he has lost weight and lowered his cholesterol. Plus, he just plain feels better.In the first few chapters, Bittman explains how the meat industry and big agriculture impact the environment and our waistlines with a myriad of negative results. He describes how advertising and government have colluded with these industries to create an unsustainable demand for meat, produce monocultures of corn and soy, and convince us all that we need to eat these things to be healthy. The hypocrisy of a government that tells us we’re all too fat on the one hand but subsidizes the production of high-fructose corn syrup on the other is staggering when you think about it. I’ve certainly heard these arguments before — in fact, Bittman authoritatively quotes one of my favorite authors, Michael Pollan, frequently — but Bittman’s style is straightforward, commonsensical and convincing. So much so that not only do I want to follow his advice (which, truthfully, won’t be much of a lifestyle change for me), but I want everyone I love to read this book and become convinced as well.The biggest sacrifice for me would not be reducing my consumption of meat and dairy, which I eat in very small quantities anyway, but cutting back on junk food and refined flour. I do like my bread, and “junk food” is defined as any processed foods with more than five recognizable ingredients. That’s an easy enough rule to remember, but take a look in your pantry and you’ll see how difficult it is to put in practice. Still, treats are allowed, and Bittman emphasizes making slow, gradual changes.He provides a lot of useful advice that will help. For instance, he advocates cooking more than you need whenever you cook vegetables, beans or grains, and tells you how to store and reuse the extras. This is a technique I’ve already put into practice, so that I’ll have plenty of healthy choices for lunch and snacks when I don’t have time to cook.The last half of the book is taken up by recipes. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but leafing through them, I see an assortment of useful “master recipes,” emphasizing vegetables, fruits and grains, that can be endlessly varied to suit what you have on hand and what you like to eat. These are my favorite kinds of recipes, the kinds that after you make them once or twice, you don’t really need the recipe anymore.As someone who loves to cook and eat, I do think that “food matters.” And I would love it if everyone would read this book and implement at least some of Bittman’s advice.
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I love to read about food, the environment, and health. I coach folks daily on improving eating habits with respect to personal and environmental considerations. Therefore, Bittman's book was a must read for me.As a fitness and wellness professional, I highly advocate reading Food Matters. What you will gain is a realistic, non-preach-y guide to approaching food. Weight management follows suit. Finally, an author who reminds us what food really is, recognizes that label scrutinizing and calorie counting are beyond what's necessary, and suggests practical and interchangeable recipes based on nature's bounty.You have to get this book. Read it and refer to it regularly. Not a ridiculous amount of new information, but such a human approach to nutritious, satiating, and environmentally-friendly eating- 'sane eating', as Bittman terms it.
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The advice strikes me as sensible (more plants, fewer animals, whole grains... you know the drill) and the book is well-written. One thing I especially liked was Bittman's easy-breezy approach to cooking, which mirrors my own. Cook up a mess of quinoa! Eat a bunch of it, throw the rest in the fridge and eat it later! Put on a pot of beans, because beans are always good. Make some stock- don't sweat the ingredients, just toss in some real food and simmer it. Yeah. Sensible. The recipes were appealing, but nothing leapt off the pages at me.

In short, nothing you don't already know, if you've paid any attention to the whole foods/slow foods/locavore movement in the last several years, but a nicely balanced approach with personal anecdotes and easy to follow recipes.
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You can't find many people who are more knowledgeable about food than Mark Bittman. He's written big, intelligent books about how to cook just about anything, so he understands not just the techniques but the raw materials as well.That he's tackling conscientious eating is a good thing. If anyone can wade through the often muddy waters of food ethics and responsibilities, Bittman can and has. And he offers not just horror stories and warnings but practical solutions in the form of recipes which put the principles of conscious eating into practice.For those of us who have been practicing more sustainable living, this is a logical next step to take. Bittman is a remarkable guide through the process.
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Judging by the number of titles published recently, save the planet food books are big business. Many of them are of middling quality, but this one is pretty good. Just enough balance of science, political history, economics, chemistry, personal anecdotes and recipes to work. The main takeaways? a) Don’t eat processed food and b) Eat vegan before six
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Mark Bittman's Food Matters is not the most original book in the world. Its basic thesis states that we can lose weight, save money, and protect the planet if only we devour less meat and junk food. Shades of Michael Pollan's condensed wisdom: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."The difference between Pollan and Bittman is that the latter's a professional gourmand who can tell you many, many ways to prepare non- (or less-)carnivorous meals. Food Matters is basically In Defense of Food with recipes -- a LOT of recipes. Useful! I've tried a couple of the recipes already, with great results. So even if you don't need to be convinced that factory farming is wasteful and high-fructose corn syrup is evil, you can still get a lot of practical use out of Food Matters.
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This book is in two parts. The first portion of the book contains a good summary of why the author changed his eating habits and on how these changes resulted in beneficial effects. This summary contains both personal observations along with a useful summary (including an extensive bibliography for more information) of the results of specific scientific and more popular studies of food and the food industry. For people who are interested in food, much of this information is not new, but the author provides a very nice summary of this information in one location. The second portion of the book contains a number of recipes. I have not tried any of them, but I have tried a number of the recipes that he has published in his Minimalist column in the New York Times. I have had success (and quite good eating) with these recipes; therefore, I suspect that the recipes in this book would lead to the same result.
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