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From the award-winning champion of culinary simplicity who gave us the bestselling How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian comes Food Matters, a plan for responsible eating that's as good for the planet as it is for your weight and your health.

We are finally starting to acknowledge the threat carbon emissions pose to our ozone layer, but few people have focused on the extent to which our consumption of meat contributes to global warming. Think about it this way: In terms of energy consumption, serving a typical family-of-four steak dinner is the rough equivalent of driving around in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home.

Bittman offers a no-nonsense rundown on how government policy, big business marketing, and global economics influence what we choose to put on the table each evening. He demystifies buzzwords like "organic," "sustainable," and "local" and offers straightforward, budget-conscious advice that will help you make small changes that will shrink your carbon footprint -- and your waistline.

Flexible, simple, and non-doctrinaire, the plan is based on hard science but gives you plenty of leeway to tailor your food choices to your lifestyle, schedule, and level of commitment. Bittman, a food writer who loves to eat and eats out frequently, lost thirty-five pounds and saw marked improvement in his blood levels by simply cutting meat and processed foods out of two of his three daily meals. But the simple truth, as he points out, is that as long as you eat more vegetables and whole grains, the result will be better health for you and for the world in which we live.

Unlike most things that are virtuous and healthful, Bittman's plan doesn't involve sacrifice. From Spinach and Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing to Breakfast Bread Pudding, the recipes in Food Matters are flavorful and sophisticated. A month's worth of meal plans shows you how Bittman chooses to eat and offers proof of how satisfying a mindful and responsible diet can be. Cheaper, healthier, and socially sound, Food Matters represents the future of American eating.

Topics: Farming, Fruits & Veggies, Mindfulness, Sustainability , The Environment, Guides, and Cookbooks

Published: Simon & Schuster on Dec 30, 2008
ISBN: 9781416578970
List price: $13.99
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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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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 planread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bittman writes on many of the same aspects of food that Michael Pollan has in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: the problems with industrial farming, the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the US, and the prevalance of fast and processed food products.After a weight gain and health caution from his physician, Bittman developed what he calls simply “sane eating,” or the Food Matters approach. He chose a mostly vegan diet for breakfast, lunch and snacks, and a looser approach for dinner so he didn’t feel deprived. He stresses many times that this has worked for him, but to take your own life, habits and preferences into account. The approach he advocates is simple, and eminently adaptable. This is not a strict regime, or a punishment. Instead it’s an adjustment of your approach to cooking and eating that focuses almost entirely on what you can and should eat (lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains), what you should eat in moderation (dairy products and meat) and what you should avoid (overly processed artificial foods and industrially produced meat.)While Pollan wrote “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” from In Defense of Food, Bittman not only takes you through why it’s important, but also puts it into practice with 77 easy-to-read and good-to-eat recipes. As Laura Miller at Salon noted when it came out, Food Matters is applied Pollan. Bittman is an experienced cook and recipe writer; he’s the author of the New York Times’ Minimalist column. The recipes are easy to follow, and he offers myriad variations and ideas. Throughout he has an upbeat, encouraging tone that urges new and experienced cooks to experiment and have fun.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Excellent primer on eating better... without hard rules. Bittman is a wonderful writer, and indeed creates simple recipes (his "How to Cook Everything" is my favorite cookbook); this book might only be improved by photos of the recipes, and more meatless options.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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 sixread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bittman writes on many of the same aspects of food that Michael Pollan has in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: the problems with industrial farming, the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the US, and the prevalance of fast and processed food products.After a weight gain and health caution from his physician, Bittman developed what he calls simply “sane eating,” or the Food Matters approach. He chose a mostly vegan diet for breakfast, lunch and snacks, and a looser approach for dinner so he didn’t feel deprived. He stresses many times that this has worked for him, but to take your own life, habits and preferences into account. The approach he advocates is simple, and eminently adaptable. This is not a strict regime, or a punishment. Instead it’s an adjustment of your approach to cooking and eating that focuses almost entirely on what you can and should eat (lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains), what you should eat in moderation (dairy products and meat) and what you should avoid (overly processed artificial foods and industrially produced meat.)While Pollan wrote “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” from In Defense of Food, Bittman not only takes you through why it’s important, but also puts it into practice with 77 easy-to-read and good-to-eat recipes. As Laura Miller at Salon noted when it came out, Food Matters is applied Pollan. Bittman is an experienced cook and recipe writer; he’s the author of the New York Times’ Minimalist column. The recipes are easy to follow, and he offers myriad variations and ideas. Throughout he has an upbeat, encouraging tone that urges new and experienced cooks to experiment and have fun.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Excellent primer on eating better... without hard rules. Bittman is a wonderful writer, and indeed creates simple recipes (his "How to Cook Everything" is my favorite cookbook); this book might only be improved by photos of the recipes, and more meatless options.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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