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The best food books – in my opinion!

What food books influence Cooked From Scratch?  Where DO I get my ideas from?

Those who follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, will know I am always posting articles and advice on cooking and eating ‘real food’.  Many of those articles refer to things that can happen if you eat too much ultra processed food.  But, over and above the articles themselves, where do I get my ideas from – why do I bang on about cooking from scratch and eating real food?  cook from scratch

Without boring you with the details, the first pieces of a massive jigsaw started being put into place for me in the very early noughties.  Those first pieces of the jigsaw convinced me that industrially produced food wasn’t good for us and were basically the reason for many of the problems we have today.  There began my journey into finding my love for cooking again, obsessively wanting to cook absolutely everything from scratch and even sowing the seeds for starting my own business.

I became a sump for knowledge – researching, reading, cooking, experimenting and basically reinforcing what I already suspected.

During that time I’ve read quite a few books on the subject, so thought I would recommend some of those books to anyone else who may be interested in the topic – or even the topic of food in general.  So here goes!

First on the list has to be the wonderful Joanna Blythman and her many books.  Basically, anything she’s written is worth a read, but these 2 in particular.  JoannaJoanna is a staunch advocate for real food and works tirelessly to raise awareness of all that is wrong with ultra processed foods.  She calls herself ‘the thorn in the side of the food industry’.  She first came to my attention via her very informative articles on food issues written for the numerous food magazines I avidly read on a monthly basis.  She just talks complete sense to me.

‘What To Eat’ – Joanna Blythman

This is a wonderful book – it simply gives you information on just about every foodstuff you can think of.  How it’s produced, manufactured etc.  She’s not trying to sell anything, just giving you the facts and allowing you to make up your own mind.  Be warned – I was already cooking everything from scratch when I read this book, but it still scared me.  As a result, we’ve gone 100% organic.

‘Swallow This’ – Joanna Blythman

Swallow ThisIt’s a fascinating investigation into what goes into the food we eat e.g. how natural are ‘natural flavourings’, why do some breads have a 6-month shelf-life?  If ‘What To Eat’ doesn’t get you changing your food habits, this definitely will.

We then move to an American food writer, Michael Pollan.  Again, any of his books are worth reading, but this one in particular is fascinating.  He is famous for saying ‘don’t eat anything your granny wouldn’t recognise as food’.  Great advice in my book.

‘Cooked’ – Michael Pollan

This books looks at the history and principles of cooking via earth, water, air and fire.  The earth section talks primarily about fermentation, which I found particularly interesting (the raw milk cheese made in a nunnery in France & the nun who is a trained microbiologist – just throwing it out there).  Again, he gives a very balanced viewpoint on the topics, allowing you to make up your own mind.  

‘The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat’ – Tim Spector

This is a fascinating book.  Professor Tim has conducted research over many decades into the microbes and bacteria that live inside us & populate our microbiome.  It’s quite fascinating to see how what we eat, what happens to us, illness and many other factors affect the health of our microbiome and in turn our own health.  He looks at all the fad diets (including those popular at the moment) to see if they have a positive or negative affect on our microbiome health – definitely worth a read.

Felicity Lawrence is another food writer who advocates real food and is keen to raise awareness of what goes into industrially produced food e.g why does beef waste end up in chicken?  I would highly recommend the following 2 books:

‘Not on the Label: What Really Goes Into the Food on Your Plate’ – Felicity Lawrence

I think the title says it all.not on the label

‘Eat Your Heart Out: Why the food business is bad for the planet & your health’ – Felicity Lawrence

After reading this book, my viewpoint on the United States and it’s food policies went rapidly downhill.  Again, it reinforced, wholeheartedly, what I already knew.

‘What To Eat: 10 Chewy Questions About Food?’ – Hattie Ellis

This book looks at questions such as ‘does any diet work?’, ‘what is ‘kind’ meat?’.  It basically enables you to make more informed, ethical decisions about the food you buy and eat.

‘The Pioppi Diet’ – Dr Aseem Malhotra & Donal O’Neill

Pioppi is one of those places in the world where the population lives to be a ripe old age.  And guess what?  They are active and don’t eat processed foods.  Dr Aseem is a cardiologist who started to doubt the nutritional advice he was giving his patients as guided by the NHS.  So, he did his own investigations with startling results.  I read this more for the science side as opposed to the 21 day diet plan.  Fascinating for anyone who is suffering or knows someone who is suffering from a diet related illness such as diabetes, heart disease.  Highly recommended.

‘First Bite: How We Learn To Eat’ – Bee Wilson

Again, anything from this lady is worth reading.  This one looks at how our food habits are shaped from the time we start consuming solid food.  Why are some people more responsive to some tastes than others?  Do outside influences affect us?  What about food phobias?  And many other issues.  Highly recommend, especially for those with very young children – better to be armed before you start.first bite

There are many more books and more that will be added to the list in the future, but if you really want to know why I bang on about things like I do, perhaps one of these is a good start.