Tag Archives: Michael Moss

Weekend Cooking: Small Bites

For this week’s contribution to Weekend Cooking, I thought I would offer you what I’m calling “small bites” – a few fun-sized book reviews that are shorter than regular posts but ones that you might enjoy sampling nonetheless.

Grain BrainGrain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent KIllers
by David Perlmutter, MD with Kristin Loberg 
Little, Brown, 336 pages, 2013

As a child, I remember my dad having frequent headaches (they run on that side of the family). When I got my first headache in first grade, I knew that I inherited this trait.  One of the reasons I decided to go gluten-free two years ago was to see if dietary changes would help with my migraines – and they absolutely have. They’re not completely gone (I doubt they ever will be) but they’re much better than they ever have been…so much so that I was able to discontinue the daily migraine prevention medication I took for several years.

Neurologist David Perlmutter’s belief is that we have the power to change our genetic destiny. Inflammation – particularly in the brain –  is a major culprit for many chronic diseases and he offers a 4 week plan for potentially reversing the course of Alzheimers and other conditions by addressing our consumption of wheat, carbs, and sugar.

“How often do we hear people say things like, ‘I’ll probably get [insert disease here] because it runs in my family.’ No doubt our genetic heritage does play a role in determining our risk for various health conditions. But what leading-edge medical research now understands is that we have the power to change our genetic destiny….We now know that the food we get or avoid, the quality of our sleep, and even the relationships we choose actually choreograph to a significant degree which of our genes are active and which remain suppressed. Here’s what is most compelling: We can change the expression of more than 70 percent of the genes that have a direct bearing on our health and longevity.” (pg. 126-127)

Salt Sugar FatSalt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
by Michael Moss
Random House, 446 pages, 2013

It’s fitting that the cover of Salt, Sugar, Fat looks like a ransom note because in a sense, the food giants that Michael Moss calls out by name in his Pulitzer Prize winning look at the industry are holding the health of millions of Americans hostage with obesity, high blood pressure, skyrocketing cholesterol counts, diabetes, and much more.

What makes Salt, Sugar, Fat especially eye-opening is how deliberate and strategic these efforts have been on the part of nearly everyone involved in getting food on our plate. This is a very well-researched book, with countless examples of how the food manufacturers, chemists, and marketers have exchanged one crappy ingredient for another (reducing fat but increasing the sugar, for example) and how government incentives (who remembers free government cheese?) exacerbate what is an epidemic and major health concern.

Pandoras LunchboxPandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal
by Melanie Warner
Scribner, 267 pages, 2013 

Pandora’s Lunchbox is similar to Salt, Sugar, Fat, but with a little more of a “just-a-regular-mom-like-you” kind of tone. Inspired by Ms. Warner’s quest to discover how long a slice of processed cheese really does last and other similar experiments. Like Michael Moss’ book, Pandora’s Lunchbox also is incredibly well-written and well-researched (Ms. Warner has a background as a reporter writing about the food industry) while shedding a light on the marketing of processed food and the chemicals in some of the most common things we (and our kids) are eating.

Animal Vegetable MiracleAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver
Harper Perennial, 2008 (audio)

My first reaction was that this didn’t seem any different from other books and blogs promoting eating locally-grown, in-season food  – and then I remembered that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was published in 2008, before concepts like farm-to-table and eating what’s currently available were household words.  Seven years later, it’s still relevant and worth reading because there are still people who don’t understand this – although, chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably do.

The Kingsolver family decided to eat locally for a year, either by growing their own food or purchasing very locally, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles their efforts by the seasons. While this tends to get a little preachy and repetitive at times (you kind of feel bad if establishing a vegetable garden that’s the equivalent of a small farm operation isn’t for you) but it’s well-written and includes brief sections by Ms. Kingsolver’s husband and daughter.

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

sunday salon: a laid-back, do-it-yourself kind of mother’s day

 

Mothers Day 2015

Mothering:
Today is a low-key, very laid back kind of Mother’s Day. Hardly recognizable from any other Sunday, actually, which is fine with me.  Both of our mothers have been called, the requisite Facebook sentiments have been posted, and …that’s about it. I’m perfectly fine with Mother’s Day being an ordinary Sunday as it wasn’t that long ago (and yet, a lifetime ago) when this was a much more bittersweet holiday. Compared to that, I’ll take average and ordinary any day.

Still, I did take advantage of the occasion to purchase some gifts for myself.

Mothers Day 2015

 

(Why yes, you observant thang, there is a missing bottle of wine in the Barefoot Merlot four-pack. That’s because it was purchased and consumed on Friday night.)

And this arrived in Friday’s mail:

Mothers Day 2015 - Be BraveI wanted a Bravelet for various reasons, namely as a motivator and inspiration for writing about some things that I feel compelled to write more about, but at times struggle with. It’s also a reminder of times I’ve needed to be brave, because sometimes we tend to forget the hard stuff we’ve been through when the here and now shows up.  Finally, and most importantly, it’s a way for me to support the phenomenal work of the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation, an organization that is very personal to me.  ($10 from each Bravelet goes to a cause of your choosing, such as BYMRKH.)

Writing
Along with 1,600 other hopefuls, I applied to be a Book Riot contributor. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m okay with that. (Here’s the funny thing about starting to send more stuff out into the world: in some ways, the rejection gets a little bit easier. There’s no shortage of places to submit to. If you’re not right for one gig or the piece isn’t right for one publication, there will be another coming along.)

This week, one of those places was The Philadelphia Review of Books. Poetry editor John Ebersole put out a call for political poems and stated he would publish them on the spot.  I had been thinking about hearing Desmond Tutu speak five years ago in Baltimore and the recent riots. The result was “Baltimore, April 2010” which appeared on The Philadelphia Review of Books’ blog along with more than 100 other poetry submissions. Go read them, as these folks are some fantastic company.

Listening

Salt Sugar FatIn the car, I’m still listening to Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. It’s fascinating and sobering to learn the marketing and product development strategies behind some of the best-known brands. Scott Brick narrates the audio of this, and I just love him.

Reading

In the Unlikely Event

Last night I started the soon-to-be-released (June 2) Judy Blume novel, In the Unlikely Event, which I’m reviewing for the Post-Gazette. Here’s what I can say about this, as of page 31: this is definitely going to appeal to those of us of a certain age who grew up reading Judy’s books. We’ll see if that continues to hold true throughout, but trust me when I say that the nostalgia factor is strong with this one.

For those who celebrate this day and embrace all that it is, for those who look at this Sunday as just another day, and for those who, understandably, find Mother’s Day difficult for any myriad of reasons, know this: today and every day, you are and always will forever be mom enough, no matter what. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0