My Reading List

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I’m just about ready to move on from the food books, but decided on one last session.

I have not been able to get In Defense of Food at the library and finally broke down and bought it, because I’m considering giving it to someone and decided I could just buy it and read it and then give it away and that would be fine. I started it the other night and it seems like Michael Pollan and I had similar reading lists for our projects, many of the things he quotes sound very familiar. So far I’m liking the discussion of Nutritionism very much.

While at Nice Price looking to see if I could get a used copy of In Defense of Food, I came across Mindless Eating, which one of my friends highly recommended, so I got that. And my eye was also caught by The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker. Chick lit tends to make me pull my hair out, and the quote from Jennifer Weiner on the cover almost made me put it back, but I decided to get it anyway.

I started it yesterday and took the bus to Chapel Hill was standing there trying to get the fare box to take my dollar and the driver said, “You’re not fat. Why are you reading that?”

I’ll be sure to remember that the next time I’m at the beach.

I’m looking forward to finishing the food and health books so I can move on to my new area of interest, which is how we ended up with gross processed food as norm and cooking from scratch as this crazy thing that no one has time for. This is connected to all kinds of things — industrialization, the rise of consumerism, gender politics, and the feminist movement, to name but a few — and I’m starting to build a new reading list to cover all of that (including Building a Housewife’s Paradise, which I picked up from my friends at UNC Press and which I can’t wait to read). So hopefully I’ll have interesting things to say about some of that before too long.

Still planning on writing up some overview info about food and cooking and health. And if everyone everywhere would stop asking me for things, it would go a lot faster. But so far I’ve been entirely unsuccessful at making people go away.

7 Responses to “My Reading List”

  1. Amy B Maine Says:

    I think I mentioned this before, but I highly recommend:

    Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History (Victorian Life and Times)
    by Andrea Broomfield

    This is not one of those cutesy valentines to the Victorian era. Although it does contain a recipe for seed cake, this is a scholarly examination of how the industrial revolution changed our system of feeding the populace. There is so much here that resonates with our modern conundrums about food saftey, price, home cooking practices, convenience and fast food, the food habits of the poor vs the well off, and how nutrition impacts military readiness (today its obesity, then it was young men too malnurished for conscription.)

    One thing that interests me is how, while we think we are individuals, we are really highly dependent on a collective system of procuring food and influenced by social mores more than we even realize.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    Yes, I’m going to see if I can get that. I thought of it while I was reading Never Done by Susan Strasser, which is about domestic changes that began around the turn of the last century when people started to get electricity and move to urban areas. She pointed out that before refrigeration, people ate a very limited diet. I also remember reading in something completely unrelated to food (I think it was actually one of Edward Tufte’s information design books when talking about how a cholera epidemic was tracked) that people lived basically on beer and bread. Beer had alcohol which killed bacteria and bread made from whole grains is pretty nutritious. Many problems arose with industrialization and the advent of bread made from refined flour.

    What I think is most interesting about all of this is how it compares with what Americans today think a diet needs in order to be considered healthy. And, yes, you’re right, what it says about the larger system that basically determines what we eat is also fascinating.

  3. Valerie Says:

    I read Mindless Eating and thought it was amazing! I’m going to have to check out your other recommendations. :)

  4. Ruthie Says:

    I highly recommend Perfection Salad and Something in the Oven by Laura Shapiro. :-)

  5. Kelly Says:

    I recommend The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. It was originally published in 1948 but is so timeless and lovely.

  6. lessisenough Says:

    The Unprejudiced Palate looks great! I hadn’t heard of it but just looked it up and find it especially interesting that it was written by an Italian immigrant in Seattle — which is what my maternal grandfather was. I grew up hearing stories about my mother’s Italian grandmother raising rabbits and serving polenta. So I’ll definitely try to check that out. Thanks!

  7. Lorrie Says:

    I just picked up Mindless Eating last night at my library and started reading it. So far it’s very interesting.

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