Thursday, January 15, 2009

5/81 Real Food Revival - 3/5 stars

Real Food Revival by Sherri Brooks Vinton, food/cooking category

There's been a movement lately to try to get Americans back to the basics when it comes to food - plain food, done well, with local and organic ingredients, prepared simply. This book is another in that vein, but presented in a simple format. This one takes us 'aisle by aisle' through the basic food types and tells us first what's wrong with absolutely everything you like and then what you should do instead. Perhaps you can tell from my grumpiness that I'm not completely converted to this way of thinking. As I sat last night at the dinner table, eating my Rice-a-Roni and frozen chicken prepackaged and preseasoned, plus my canned mandarin oranges (I got that one right, at least! I think.) I thought that I probably could make a few changes.

There is certainly some important stuff in here. I know buying local, organic ingredients is best. But my basic objections remain. This way of life is really only practical for those with the money to shop that way. People living on the edge of their income will not make these kinds of changes. I know; I've been there. When your grocery budget for the entire month is measured out by each careful dollar, you simply can't afford to buy these organic ingredients. It means going without. But what I have decided to do is read my labels more carefully and see what exactly I am buying. My favorite quote from the book: "Good food should be valued on its quality, not its ability to turn your tongue purple."

She includes a few recipes, most of them not appealing to me, but there is a basic recipe for marinara sauce, which I love. But the author must live in a very different community from the one I live in. For instance, she suggest shopping at your local cheesemonger. Um, what? Maybe where she lives, but not here, that's for sure. And as for shopping at your local bakery, also not something I'm planning to do. I wouldn't mind making my own bread, but I can't exactly go to these corner stores.

So I'm not sure who to recommend this to. I guess just about anyone might read it and find a few things to change, but the audience intended for this book will know most of this stuff already.

1 comment:

VictoriaPL said...

If you have a Whole Foods store near you, they have cheesemongers in there. And they give out free samples too!
I bought chicken stock last night and on one box the ingredient list was like 30 things. So I put that one down and picked another one up that only had five ingredients (for a comparable price). Label-reading is a very good place to start. I look forward to more food reviews from you!