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Fresh Choices    by David Joachim & Rochelle Davis order for
Fresh Choices
by David Joachim
Order:  USA  Can
Rodale, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his Foreword, Peter Hoffman (Chef/Owner of the Savoy) tells us that 'choosing good food is the first step toward good cooking', and recommends buying locally as well as seasonally. The authors offer to help the reader 'navigate' decisions about food choices, via healthy alternatives to organic foods, when the latter are unavailable or too expensive. Interspersed with the recipes are explanations of US government policies that affect food choices, and profiles of people, like Raffi, who work to ensure the availability of safer food. In 'From Farm to Fork', the authors give us an overview of the history of industrial food production, and in particular the use of agricultural pesticides, contamination by PCBs, and children's vulnerability to toxins in food.

Next come the recipes. With summer on the horizon, Fruit makes a good starting place. Watermelon Gazpacho (with cucumber, bell peppers and fresh mint) caught my eye, as did Grilled Fruit Wraps with Gingered Yogurt Dip and Broiled Figs with Goat Cheese and Basil - yumm! The Vegetable section tells us what's in season by month, and has Hot Greens with Ginger, Soy and Sesame, Mesclun Salad with Pears and Apricot Balsamic Vinaigrette, and much more. In Fish and Shellfish, I fancy Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce. Chicken and Turkey? Serve me Sautéed Chicken with Sage and Gingered Plums, or Turkey, Gruyere, and Watercress Wraps. Re. Beef and Pork, I've always loved Grilled Beef Satay, and like the sound of Pork Medallions with Plum Port Sauce. Though we've cut down on Milk, Cheese, and Eggs, in order to reduce cholesterol, I'm tempted by Sausage and Red Pepper Frittata, and must try Orange Walnut Meringues. Genetically modified foods are discussed under Beans, Nuts, and Grains,
whose enticing recipes include Lentil Dal with Potatoes, Tomatoes and Spinach (Dal is an old favorite of mine from travelling days), Blackened Tofu or Black Bean and Goat Cheese Burritos. Finally, in Wheat Flour, Bread and Pasta, we find Thai Fettucine Primavera and Lemon Herb Cornmeal Cake with Macerated Berries, amongst many more mouthwatering choices.

This book offers an empowering mix of recipes and environmental information. The authors recommend use of organic foods, but also tell us that we can reduce pesticide exposure by our choices of fruit and vegetables - for example, conventionally grown blueberries are naturally lower in pesticide residues than strawberries and apples. There's a section at the back on (mostly U.S., some Canadian) 'Ecofriendly Food Sources' and references for further reading. I highly recommend Fresh Choices to anyone interested in better understanding environmental impacts on the food we eat, and in making healthier food choices for themselves and their families.

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