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Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for…

Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

by Jessica Prentice

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I admire the ideal that Jessica Prentice is aiming for: a world in which we are able to eat "locally grown, humanely raised foods" prepared via traditional methods. In thirteen chapters, each dealing with a specific kind of food and named after a Native American or other traditional month, Prentice discusses each food, contrasting how it was historically raised and prepared with how we deal with it in our world of large-scale agriculture and convenience foods. She adds bits of her personal history with food and health through the book; a former vegetarian, she eventually began eating meat again, in great part for health reasons. Although she advocates an omnivorous diet, I thought that she was sympathetic to the reasons many people choose vegetarian and vegan diets.

My disagreements with this book are the same ones I have with many books of this type. There is no discussion of how to make this lovely local, organic, minimally processed food available and affordable to people on limited incomes. Prentice advocates consuming raw milk; I am not convinced that just raising cows on grass in open pastures would be enough to make this a safe option. The author seems to have an uncritical acceptance of the writers whom she agrees with, and I wondered if there actually were some flaws in their work that should be looked into. She acknowledges that many of the traditional ways to prepare food take time and effort:"Modern women may not relish the thought of spending six hours grinding grain by hand. But I think we should take seriously the possibility that this kind of work can be deeply satisfying and even be a form of expression for the soul." Actually, I do take this possibility seriously, and would love my cooking to be deeply satisfying. But while Prentice is a professional chef, who presumably wants to spend her days working with food, how does this six-hours-or-more-a-day schedule work for people who want to work in other fields altogether? But despite all this, I think Prentice's vision of a closer tie between food and community makes this book a worthy read. ( )
  Silvernfire | Jul 28, 2012 |
I am awed. Prentice ties it all together: food, culture, agricultural practices, Peak Oil, artificial lighting, yearly cycles, and human health. She challenges some of the current trends in nutrition (vegetarianism, low fat, sugars) while supporting others (pesticide- and antiobitic-free foods, local sourcing). References are provided for many of her assertions. While she quotes from a wide variety of researchers and other authors, she does not necessarily take all their statements as gospel. For example, while frequently referring to Weston Price’s research on the effects of dietary changes on human health, in the final chapter she notes he missed the concurrent changes in those traditional cultures’ lifestyles. Although she brings up serious problems, which other writers have treated as crises, Prentice maintains a positive tone. I greatly appreciate the way she closes each chapter with some wish for us and our lives.
My only quarrel with her is her unqualified promotion of fermented foods. She identifies the ways many traditional cultures used fermented or cultured foods, and provides some recipes, yet never mentions the controls necessary to prevent unwanted contamination with spoilage bacteria. Most of her smattering of recipes didn’t seem unique enough to recommend this as a cookbook---in fact, one of her points is that we need to trust our own intuition in cooking—but this book definitely has a place on my shelf for its cohesive synthesis of human’s relationship with food. ( )
  juniperSun | Feb 21, 2011 |
a back to basics book about diet and eating in rhythem with the cycles of the seasons. I highly recommend this to anyone who seeks a healthy, well balanced meal and life. ( )
1 vote ikhaya | Feb 19, 2008 |
A delightful themed cookbook with both recipes and interesting short essays attuned to both local / bioregional sources and global foodways. Veg*ns will find a special thing or two; omnivores will appreciate this book the most. ( )
  RuTemple | May 21, 2007 |
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