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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Cooking Green

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January 26, 2011

Book Roundup Wednesday: Cooking Green

Books about environmentalism Each Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today, we're recommending books that'll help you prepare food in more environmentally responsible ways.

Fresh from the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel and Charlotte March (by Laurent Tourondel, $35, Wiley, 2010): The only book on our list authored by a major restaurateur (Tourondel heads NYC's BLT Market), the main idea here is: If it isn’t growing right now, don’t eat it. The book is broken down into seasons, which are divided into months and then into food groups, so if you want to cook a fungi in February or seafood in September, you know right where to turn. The recipes aren't for the fainthearted (one bean salad packs 25 ingredients) but are très gourmet. A great buy for the serious, eco-minded home cook.

Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat (by Deborah Krasner, $40, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010): Carnivory often gets a bad rap from sustainable-food advocates and animal-rights activists. But is it true that it’s always environmentally unfriendly to grill up a steak? Krasner argues that it depends on where a cow was raised and what it was fed. Animals raised by the right farmers, with the right diet, can make a perfectly sustainable, healthy, and delicious addition to the dinner table. How do you find those animals? That’s the question this heifer-sized book answers with essays, techniques, recipes, and beautiful photography by Marcus Nilsson.

The Earth-Bound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet (by Myra Goodman, $21, Workman, 2010): Goodman states in her introduction that she wants to “combine the pleasures of food with the power of food.” For her, this means adding a dash of eco-wisdom to an otherwise routine collection of recipes (albeit with some very scrumptious salads). Her “living green” basic tips are often very basic — like using cloth napkins and reusing glass jam jars — but are nonetheless practical and form a good primer for a home cook just beginning to set up a sustainable kitchen.

Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists (by Katherine Leiner, $35, Sunrise Lane Productions, 2010): More a work of nonfiction than a cookbook (recipes are few and far between), Growing Roots is a collection of essays by and interviews with a cross-section of people in the green-food movement. Leiner talks to, eats with, and gathers recipes from cheese farmers, beekeepers, biodiesel producers, food-justice advocates, and more. They come together to form an engrossing and educational snapshot of the people working to clean up the food industry.

The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook (by Jennifer R. Bartley, $23, Timber Press, 2010): OK, you say, I get it. The best things to serve on my table are those I grow in my backyard. But a life of leaving the house to get food has left me woefully bereft of a green thumb: What should I do? The answers are in this book, which details the how, what, and when of growing food in a home garden. You'll learn how to design your garden for producing food, but also how to use your patch of land as a resource for interior decorating with flowers and shrubs. There are some recipes, but this isn't a cookbook; rather, it's the step before the cookbook, and it’s accessible enough to allow even inexperienced gardeners to get their hands dirty.

--Tim McDonnell

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