I slowed down in my recent monograph reading as I’m getting ready for a music gig. I’ve been spending more time practicing and reading my periodicals (Bead & Button, BeadStyle, High Country News, The Sun, Utne Reader, American Libraries, and Birds & Blooms).

However, I did finish the wonderful travel classic, “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle (1989). This delightful travel memoir details a year in Provence, France, on a month by month basis. While exploring the social customs of this small, rural village in Provence, Mayle entices readers with descriptions of food and drink that get the taste buds activated! Reading through descriptions of local breads, cheeses, wines, veggies, and meats in gourmand-style depictions made me instantly want to move there, or at least visit! This is a book to read slowly and savor all of its elements, from the food, to the landscape, to the people, to the general way of life. Intelligently written, full of wit and humour, with colorful descriptions, I rate this with the full four stars!

Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not Too Much.
-Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

I also read “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan vis a vis  audiobook format, read by Scott Brick who is an excellent reader. This is an easy to digest (no pun intended) manifesto on food and what to eat. Why is this such a major question? Americans have so much food available to us via the grocery stores, convenience stores, and at almost every kind of consumer outlet. These are in fact “food products” and not real “food” in the sense of purity. “Food products” are so far removed from true food. They are several steps away from the earth or the source. Take a look at the packages; can you read and understand all of the ingredients? Would your mother, grandmother, or great grandmother eat these food products? Why are we eating so many products with corn byproducts and sugars? The keyword is “byproduct” here. Scary! And, it’s such a game with the high dollar consumerism all in an effort to make us buy more and consume more. Why are so many Americans struggling with weight and obesity? Take a look at all the products! The best thing anyone can do to eat better is to shop the perimeters of the grocery store and buy only whole foods like fruits, veggies, eggs, cheese and dairy (but watch out for any product with a mile long list like yogurt and chocolate milk, and even cottage cheese!), meats, and whole grains (these are grains that are entirely whole in their package!). Better yet, shop at the local farmer’s markets or CSAs and buy whole fresh food. Or, even better still, grow your own foods and put them up.

Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” is entirely accessible and I highly recommend it to anyone frustrated with the current situation of food, health, and weight-related issues. Before trying the latest diet book or diet powder, take a few hours and read through “In Defense of Food.” Your brain, stomach, heart, and taste buds will thank you!

For more information, see Pollan’s website at http://www.michaelpollan.com/indefense.php  or read a review on the NPR website at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17725932

Another audiobook on food and lifestyle that I highly recommend is “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. The audio version is also read by the author which is wonderful to be truly emersed in the French way of life, recited to you by a lovely French woman. This is the perfect audiobook to listen in the car or while commuting. It is filled with french anecdotes and quips. (I don’t know French, but I am inspired to learn this beautiful and sensous language). Pollan’s and Guiliano’s books work well together because they complement each other and reiterate the basic principal of quality whole foods (over quantity junky foods). Guiliano also is so gentle, especially with the issue of feeling fat and what to do about it. Guiliano’s principles are basic healthy eating and fully experiencing the simple pleasures of the moment. Reading Guiliano’s book is a personal experience and has the potential to offer a profound learning opportunity for each reader dealing with issues of food, health, and satisfaction. Read more at Guiliano’s website at http://www.mireilleguiliano.com/

I am now reading about the history of Ireland and Irish music. It will take me a bit more time to read these materials. I can speed read through the novels and light nonfiction, but it takes me a long time to read scholarly or academic nonfiction. Stay tuned… and Happy Reading!