National Geographic “Foods for Health” #BookReview

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Foods For Health

Choose and use the very best foods for your family & the planet

Foods for Health is not a cookery book; it is a guide to food items, how to choose them, how to use them and their impacts on your health and the planet. Through a foreword from each author, the book begins by speaking of the importance of healthy eating, about seasonal produce, a balance in your diet and how your food choices affect you & the world in which we live.

Over 150 food items are discussed, and the book is broken down into five chapters; Vegetables, fruits, proteins, whole grains, fats & oils, and beverages. At the beginning of each chapter, there is an introduction, giving an overview of the food type in general, how your body benefits from that food group, the production & use of the food group around the world and how it affects the planet. Then we move onto double page spreads for individual food items. These spreads give you an intro, a section on how to choose and use it, what the item gives you (nutritionally), what it does for your health, how it impacts the planet and prep or pairing tips.

So, for example, I learned this about the Kiwi.

  • It is native to China’s Yangtze valley where it was known as “yang-tao” and is traditionally categorized in Chinese medicine as a ‘cooling’ food that can aid digestion. It was exclusively wild growing until about 300 years ago. New Zealand now dominates production, and the Kiwi was known as the “Chinese gooseberry” until a marketing effort in the 1960’s when it became referred to as the Kiwi Fruit.
  • Fresh imports from New Zealand are available from April – November, and they should be purchased when firm but not hard. They provide you with vitamins A, K, & E, potassium, folate, fiber, and phytonutrients. The company that ships them from New Zealand reports that 35% of their emissions are from transportation and it is maximizing use of space on vessels, using larger ships and shipping at slower, more fuel-efficient speeds.
  • The skin is edible so no need to peel, thus reducing food waste and they contain a higher density of vitamin C than an orange.

There are a wide variety of foods featured, from brown rice to fennel, cod to walnuts, canola oil to cabbage, lamb to amaranth – you will find foods you love and new foods to enjoy.

Verdict

This is an excellent browsing book. I can see it sitting on the kitchen counter or your bedroom bookshelf. It is perfect for dipping into and for educating yourself, so you feel confident trying new foods. For example, I had seen amaranth in our local supermarket but didn’t know what to do with it. Now I use it as a gluten-free thickener in my sauces, pop it like popcorn and use it as the base for a delicious fruity porridge. Our edition is becoming well thumbed already, and I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.