EcoSalon Book Review: Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen


Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen
By Anna Lappé and Bryant Terry

Grub isn’t just the title of this book; it’s a whole new way of eating. In the first section of the book, the authors lay out what is wrong with our modern industrial food system: Factory farming, GMOs, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, dependence on petroleum, hunger, and poor nutrition in our land of plenty.

The idea is well-supported: for example, only three vegetables constituted nearly half of all vegetable servings in the US in 2000: Iceberg lettuce, potatoes (fresh, fried, and potato chips), and canned tomatoes. So much for eating our greens.

Lest you think that Grub is just a lament about what’s wrong, the second half of the book is a truly stellar guide for remaking one’s eating habits,  including tips for eating at home more often, supporting community-based food systems, outfitting your kitchen sensibly, stocking your pantry, saving money on healthy, local, organic foods, and starting or reviving traditions for sitting down and dining together with friends and family. It’s a realistic, practical, and thoroughly inspiring guide.

And what I found fun, of course, was the extra cooking section of the book! Grub provides seasonal menus with fun, catchy titles. Afrodiasporic Cookout includes recipes for Grilled Corn and Heirloom Tomato Salad, Good Grilled Okra, and Ginger Beer. More Than One Side (Dish) to Thanksgiving has recipes for Roasted Yam Puree with Coconut Milk, Walnut and Cheddar Casserole, and Brussels Sprouts with White Wine and Thyme (mmm). My favorite part: each menu thoughtfully includes a suggested soundtrack and sometimes a poem. And the text is sprinkled with quick, useful cooking tips. The recipes lean toward the meat and dairy free end of the spectrum, but it’s refreshingly non-dogmatic. The authors successfully make the point that healthy food is food you enjoy, making it healthy on every level. Grub is a positive book with a fresh approach to healthy eating, for you and the planet. Highly recommended.

Image: Eat Grub

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.