Every Bite Affects The World
by Catherine Verrall and Friends, Friesen Press 2014
Reviewed by Sandra Brandt
Catherine Verrall’s recently published book, Every Bite Affects The World, is a sheer delight! Brimming with its joyful attitude toward our relationship with food, it takes the reader on a journey of many paths. The subject of food is all about connecting the inner world of our bodies with the wider world outside us, which leads us in many directions of exploration.
The outer world paths explored in this book include principles such as locally-sourced food, food sovereignty i.e. making food a public good rather than a profit-driven commodity, and recognizing indigenous food wisdom, and shows how our individual everyday choices can be based on these principles. The book is as much an environmental handbook for daily living as it is a cookbook, and it certainly excels on both levels.
The inner world, of course, concerns our health and well-being as individuals. Following the guidelines presented in the book will be a valuable aid in moving toward optimum physical health and emotional outlook. The book addresses a variety of ethical and health-related food issues and accommodates a range of needs, preferences, and food-consciousness. Gluten-free eaters will find their needs well recognized.
The recipes and recommendations are also highly vegetarian-friendly, along with the imperative for meat eaters to source local pastured, humanely raised products. GMOs, agricultural chemicals, ethical seafood sources, fair trade products, and packaging materials are also dealt with in a helpful and practical way. One interesting suggestion for more localized food choices: did you know that one medium baked potato with skin provides as much potassium as a large banana?
The recipe section, always an attraction for an avid cook, is a wonderful compilation of formal recipes, hints, suggestions, and flavour variations on basic themes. It succeeds beautifully in showcasing a bountiful feast of local foods (based on the author’s Canadian prairie home), and it makes food preparation sound appealing and natural, as joyous as a nature walk on a lovely day. Salads are delightfully described as “food art.” The flavour of local foods is enhanced with local herbs and wild gathered vegetables (which we may call weeds, but are chock full of nutrition and flavour). The Dandelion Dips are a must try! Soups, stews, and other practical main dishes are all warmly presented, incorporating input and commentary from contributors and testers. Recipes such as Parsnip and Pear Soup could easily become household favourites. And who could resist checking out the Cherry Lentil Brownies?
Handy kitchen and cooking tips abound, such as freezing herbs in muffin tins to create easily usable packets, and using an abundance of Swiss chard or dandelion greens to make pesto—greens never had it so good! Storing foods—a most important issue in a colder climate—also merits a well-deserved chapter.
Besides basic food information and recipes, the book has many other gifts to offer. It is a rich and well researched resource for both individuals and organizations in terms of living in harmony with ourselves, each other, and the earth. As Catherine Verrall outlines in her introduction, we are invited to Relationship, Creativity, and Community; her book is a treasure to use in all of these aspects, and it includes an abundance of suggestions for both individual and community actions, as she herself is both a dedicated long-time activist as well as a living example of what she talks about. The book could well be used as an educational tool in a wide variety of settings.
A word about the publishing style—good sized simple font makes reading or skimming the text easy on the eyes. The short succinct sections make it easy to jump back and forth between topics as needed (although a good read from cover to cover is highly recommended!). The writing style is down to earth and would be easily understood by a wide range of readers.
Every Bite Affects The World shows clearly that eating well, healthfully, and in tune with the planet is not a difficult sacrifice; rather, it is a satisfying and fulfilling step in taking one’s rightful place in the world. Encompassing a wealth of poetry, prose, recipes, information and facts, personal stories, and sage advice, it is an invaluable manual for learning, teaching, eating, and living. Catherine Verrall is truly a wise elder in our world today.
* * * * * * * * *
Catherine Verrall is a retired teacher but a never-retired environmental activist. Her prime passion is caring for the Earth that cares for us all. She now makes her home in Regina, on Treaty Four Territory.
Every Bite Affects the World is available in Regina at Eat Healthy Foods, Nature’s Best Market, Hemp Haven; in Moosomin at Broadway Stationary; in Saskatoon coming to McNally Robinson; and also coming to Chapters stores in Western Canada. You can buy the book on-line at Friesenpress.com, Chapters.ca, and Amazon.ca. Ebook formats are available. Google Every Bite Affects the World to reach the publisher’s information.
Sandra Brandt has had a lifelong interest in whole natural foods. She lives in Regina, where she gives cooking classes, presentations, and dietary consultations. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.