Reducing your “Cookprint”

I have to admit that since I stopped working at the end of March, I have been seriously guilty of sneaking a LOT of reading for pleasure. Full disclosure: I have devoured the entire Twilight series AND watched the movie. It’s a bit ridiculous when you fight over the books with your child because you’re both reading them or trying to, if you could just get them away from the other person. (The days went something like this: “Don’t you have homework you should be doing? Give me that book!” “Are you planning on making dinner for us tonight, Mommy? Why don’t you give me the book!”) The books are seriously addictive in a weird, teeny-bopper way. I had to consult my teenage niece to make sure that some of my questions would finally be resolved, mainly was I going to hate Bella all the way through the series, or does she (as a friend asked) finally develop a spine? This friend’s husband, I’m afraid, hates me more with each reading recommendation I give her – it started with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which impacted his diet, and moved on through Twilight, which his wife has also become addicted to…. Of course, the series has made me go back and reread some of the classics it references (such as Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights) so there has been a redeeming feature. Anyway, Twilight  has been a totally guilty pleasure, having very little to do with food and cooking unless you take into account the Cullen coven’s claim to be “vegetarians” –  they don’t feed on humans, just on animals.

So maybe it’s time to get back to some real food reading. Luckily, Mary MacVean, of the LA Times has provided me with a handy reading list for the immediate future: in “Tackling the ethics of eating,” she gives a roundup of recent books on the topic of reducing your “cookprint”. If you struggle with questions like this:

Is it OK to buy that organic peach in January if it comes from Chile, or is the fuel used to transport it too costly to the planet? What about the lives of the animals killed for food? Or those of the people who work in slaughterhouses or pick strawberries? When words like “sustainable” are marketing tools, how can a consumer figure out what to do? And can a family on a budget afford to eat sustainably?

…there are several authors out there ready to help you answer them, and MacVean has compiled a tidy list with which you can start. I particularly like the quote she pulls from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters on the question of cutting down on meat consumption:

Eating a typical family-of-four steak dinner is the rough equivalent, energy-wise, of driving around in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home.

So I’m off to pick up some of the recommended books, probably starting with Kate Heyhoe’s Cooking Green. I hear the second Twilight movie is coming out only in November, so that should give me plenty of time….

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