These days everyone has passionate opinions about how best to eat for our personal health and the planet's health. Those with opposite views debate each other while claiming to be backed by "science." This can be overwhelming and confusing for the average person like you or me. So how do we deal with it?
We have three options:
- Ignore everything and do whatever we feel is right for ourselves.
- Hitch our wagon to one diet or guru and simply follow what they say.
- Educate ourselves and decide accordingly.
While you can't be blamed for choosing any of these options, I'd argue "c." is the best choice. Food is such a huge part of our lives—affecting our bodies, our minds, and our environment—that it's worth the effort to educate ourselves on.
For those who chose to go self-education route, here are four of my favourite books that helped me make my own food choices more confidently, and might do the same for you.
Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer is a regular guy who normally writes tear-jerking fiction novels like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. He was conflicted about his food choices, especially when it came to eating animals. Why we eat some animals and not others? Realizing he was unable to provide a rational answer to his soon-to-be-born son, he decided to dive into the science, history, and philosophy of meat-eating. What he uncovered, and what he summarizes in Eating Animals, finally enabled him to put his doubts to rest and make choices he was comfortable with. The book helped me do the same.
The Third Plate, by Dan Barber
Dan Barber is on the short list of the list of the most influential chefs in the world. He’s even heralded as the one who brought kale into prominence! This book makes it clear as to why that is the case. He really cares about every ingredient he cooks with.
In The Third Plate, Barber shares his experiences and thoughts from traveling to farms near and far—from a force-feeding-free foie gras farm in Spain to innovative seed farms in Washington State's Skagit Valley—in search of the most delicious food that the land can provide us indefinitely. Not only might The Third Plate inspire you to make healthier and more sustainable food choices, but it'll make you drool too.
My Year Of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki
Often a fictional story can be more compelling (and certainly more entertaining) than a fact-filled non-fiction book. Ruth Ozeki’s novel, My Year of Meats, fits that bill.
It’s the story of a young American woman who lands a job producing a beef industry funded TV show intended to promote the meaty American diet to a Japanese audience, and a cast of characters who suffer the consequences in one way or another. It’s an eye-opening, sometimes funny and sometimes shocking, look not only at the industrial agriculture industry, but media, the difference between Japanese and American culture, and life in general.
If you really, really love beef, you'll hate this book.
Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath
Switch isn't specifically about food. As it’s subtitle goes it's about, “How to Change When Change Is Hard."
The authors, brothers Chip and Dan Health, are on the short list of my favourite non-fiction authors because they use interesting examples and stories to share the surprising science of human behaviour in an entertaining, page-flipping way.
Whether you wish to change the way you eat or to change something completely different in your life—maybe get your partner to remember to change the toilet paper roll next time?—if you read this book I promise you'll come away with a simple strategy or two to make it happen.
Which of these interest you the most? Or do you have another suggestion? Let us know!
Hopefully at least one of them interests you enough to read, and hopefully when you do it will help you to make your food choices a little bit easier.
And maybe, just maybe, it might even open your mind to try something new and unconventionally palate, body, and planet friendly like Heilu.
Enjoy the read!
Chris and Jorge