The 4-Hour Body is a hulk of a book, weighing in at over 600 pages. But Ferris comes right out in the intro and encourages readers to use it in an a l...moreThe 4-Hour Body is a hulk of a book, weighing in at over 600 pages. But Ferris comes right out in the intro and encourages readers to use it in an a la carte fashion, based on their personal needs and interests. I did not heed said advice, since I wanted to review the entire content of the book, rather than just what pertains to me (obviously, I'm not planning on gaining 30 pounds of muscle weight in as many days).
I found this book unexpectedly and deeply engrossing. Every time I sat down to read it, I would immediately get sucked into the text--oblivious to all distractions (often on a bus commute), immune to morning commute sleepiness. And this is nonfiction I'm talking about--what I usually read to fall asleep at night! 4HB is science, health, fitness, and nutrition written in a highly engaging way with advice that is then easily applied to one's own life. The only chapters I skimmed through were a few in the appendix plus the one about hitting home runs.
As far as my own results go, I started working out 2-3 times per week for 20 minutes each session, under the simple 6-minute abs/hip thrust & flying dog/kettle bell regime, and saw "shape" improvements after only two weeks. I only stuck with the slow-carb diet (what I refer to as the bean diet) for two weeks, however, because I believe beans are an exacerbant to my rosacea. When I'm feeling motivated again, I'll switch back over to The Fat Flush Plan, which is similar but doesn't require beans.
In summary, this is an excellent and well-researched book. If you care at all about your health and fitness you should read it (though probably not straight through ;-) ).(less)
This is a condensed version of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, focusing strictly on the what to eat segment of it and addressing nutritional...moreThis is a condensed version of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, focusing strictly on the what to eat segment of it and addressing nutritional science only in the book's introduction. The general summary of the contents (and the three-section layout that Pollan utilizes) is: Eat Food; Mostly Plants; Not Too Much. These three sections contain a total of 64 food rules that help one figure out how to eat quality, non-processed (real) food in the maze of "highly-processed food-like substances" that now fill our grocery stores.
But you don't need to memorize all 64 rules, just keeping in mind one from each section will do. A few I've been using lately include: From section 1: don't buy any food that contains ingredients you can't pronounce, don't buy any food with more than five ingredients, don't buy any food with any kind of sugar as one of the first three ingredients. From section 2: don't eat meat for more than one meal a day, never eat a portion of meat larger than your fist. From section 3: eat a large meal at breakfast, medium meal at lunch, and light meal at dinner (I never successfully do this, but I know eating your largest meal late in the evening is no good. I'm trying!); the smaller your plate, the less you'll eat; eat until you're only 80 percent full.
Kingsolver's memoir of her family's year-long "locavore" experience is inspiring and fascinating. They demonstrate their non-support of U.S. industria...moreKingsolver's memoir of her family's year-long "locavore" experience is inspiring and fascinating. They demonstrate their non-support of U.S. industrial agriculture practices and politics, gas-guzzling imported foods and CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in particular, by eating (almost exclusively) locally and sustainably grown foods and local, grass fed and free-range meat and poultry for a year. Primarily, these efforts involve growing a lot of their own vegetables, raising their own egg-laying chickens and some roasting chickens, raising their own turkeys, attending Farmer's Markets, canning and preserving vegetables for use through the winter, and otherwise seeking out local sources for everything they need to cook their meals. My favorite parts are the section on turkey mating and the one on making cheese (despite the fact that I hate cheese!).
If you haven't yet read anything (Michael Pollan, for example) on eating locally, living sustainably, and putting it to the man of industrial agriculture, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an excellent place to start. Otherwise, the beginning of the work is a bit reiterative, sounding in places like paraphrases of exact passages from Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.(less)
What I really enjoyed about this latest food exploration from Pollan was the section on fermenting food. Cooked is organized into three sections focus...moreWhat I really enjoyed about this latest food exploration from Pollan was the section on fermenting food. Cooked is organized into three sections focusing on Fire (whole hog barbecue), Water (braising), Air (baking bread),and Earth (fermenting).
The Fire section contained some very interesting and funny stories, and some somewhat interesting background on the history of barbecue and the culture that still revolve around the practice today. Water probably had the least impact for me. What I remember most was Pollan's passages about sweating the onions. Although it is a good section if you really just want to know about the basics of braising. Air was interesting mostly in how it talks about all the crazy additives in processed foods these days, and how store-bought bread isn't really bread anymore, in the most basic sense.
But fermentation...Ah, fermentation! Admittedly ,I already have a great interest in the topic. I've tried making sauerkraut before (though I really didn't have the proper tools), and I make beet kvass on a regular basis. In this section, Pollan goes into great depth on the microbiotic processes of fermentation, the probiotics themselves, and the growing--though still incomplete--understanding of the health benefits of eating fermented foods. One particular gem I picked up was that probiotics eat fiber in our stomachs, so if we're not getting enough fiber then our stomach probies don't have enough food to sustain them. (I knew fiber was important, but now I know why!) This is also probably one of the longer if not the longest section, as Pollan explores fermentation first with vegetables, making sauerkraut and kimchi, then cheese, then mead and beer.(less)
Learn more than you ever wanted to know (or, perhaps, you did want to know?) about corn, the negligent practices of industrial farming, and the unhapp...moreLearn more than you ever wanted to know (or, perhaps, you did want to know?) about corn, the negligent practices of industrial farming, and the unhappy lives of industrially-farmed livestock.
In his introduction, Pollan comes across as being personally offended by the bad name carbohydrates have gotten from the diet fanatics of the day. My initial reaction to the book, then, was a hope that it might relieve some of the guilt I've been feeling over my recent pasta kick. However, that reaction quickly turned to second thoughts about how I probably wouldn't feel guilt-free about eating anything after this!
Pollan exposes the crock that is industrial organics. Why, oh why is it so hard to eat food sustainably and morally? Plus, uhm...what? Food manufacturers are allowed to put synthetic additives into organic foods? Thanks to weak food regulations, the 'Organic' label has been reduced to near-meaningless.
But the section about Beyond Organic farming and family-owned Polyface Farms brings back some hope for a low- (environmental, moral) cost meal. Anyone looking to do their own serious or hobby-farming (with livestock) will get a lot out of both the information revealed in these chapters as well as the resources mentioned in passing in both this and the previous sections.(less)
Ah, at last! Here's the Pollan book that will relieve my guilt of carb-loving. At least, Pollan would condone my consumption of pasta and bread and pa...moreAh, at last! Here's the Pollan book that will relieve my guilt of carb-loving. At least, Pollan would condone my consumption of pasta and bread and pastries as long as they have about five or fewer ingredients, or are minimally processed, and as long as I don't eat too much! And eat it slowly, remember! But, aw shucks, it looks like I may have to cut my favorite Starbucks pastry, the morning bun, off the regular menu. The flour alone, in this product, doesn't even pass Pollan's eating guidelines.
Unlike Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which focuses on the food industry in general, the history of food, and what to eat in only a broad sense, In Defense of Food delves more specifically into the sciences of nutrition and, in the last section, his specific guidelines for determining what to eat and what not to. His exploration of nutrition science is fascinating and eye-opening, and Pollan pulls no punches in demonstrating how government-supported food recommendations over the past century have now led us to a world where a person can be both obese and malnourished at the same time.
All in all, an interesting and--more importantly--useful read.(less)
Trail of Crumbs recounts a twenty-something's struggle to find herself.
Filled with travels across Europe, rich details about food and cooking, and wi...moreTrail of Crumbs recounts a twenty-something's struggle to find herself.
Filled with travels across Europe, rich details about food and cooking, and with a heavy dose of the French language to top it all off, this memoir was nonetheless a navel-gazing, indulgent, snooze-fest. Kim (view spoiler)[breaks up with (hide spoiler)] the over-controlling, suffocatingly affectionate Olivier and then spends the entire rest of the book (view spoiler)[regretting it (hide spoiler)]. How about, whine some more! Or maybe instead, we could all make our choices and then live with them. Learn to move on. Obviously, I did not so much enjoy reading about (okay, listening to for 14 discs) Kim's inability to move on, suck it up, write if you want to write, do what you want to do. No more of this "I don't know what to do, wahwahwah!" crap.
Side note: The memoir included one to several recipes at the end of each chapter. These were extremely annoying while listening to the audio book, but some of the recipes sounded very tasty and worth trying. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I would say this is Pollan's least interesting book and not really worth spending time on--unless you're really interested in the history of Johnny Ap...moreI would say this is Pollan's least interesting book and not really worth spending time on--unless you're really interested in the history of Johnny Appleseed or the tulip craze in Holland, or you are an aspiring marijuana farmer. Following the legacy of apples, tulips, cannabis (marijuana), and potatoes (specifically, the genetically modified new leaf potato) in four distinct chapters, The Botany of Desire contains some interesting botanical factoids buried within boring personal accounts and historical and sociological information that would have been more effective as sidebars rather than as the main content of the book.(less)
Having already read a lot on the topic of food and sustainability, I found that many of the essays selected for this book were not the most current or...moreHaving already read a lot on the topic of food and sustainability, I found that many of the essays selected for this book were not the most current or insightful. Nevertheless, a hugely eye-opening book for anyone who is not already so familiar with the topic. (less)
This vegetable gardening guide was way more advanced than I expected. I am definitely still a beginning gardener and easily overwhelmed when faced wit...moreThis vegetable gardening guide was way more advanced than I expected. I am definitely still a beginning gardener and easily overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of having to measure and manually adjust soil nutrition levels in my garden. Which is essentially all this book is--a dictionary of vegetables and their specific soil nutrient and other needs. I read all the introductory material and a few crop-specific sections before deciding this was way over my head.(less)