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Five of the best... environmentally friendly cookbooks

Valentina Jovanovski

13th June, 2011

Greener eating doesn’t have to mean compromising on taste or quality, as these five books, reviewed by Valentina Jovanovski, prove

The last decade has seen the slow food movement take control of our kitchens, while the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Arthur Potts Dawson have made careers out of promoting fresh, local and organic produce. Even culinary schools such as Ashburton Cookery School in Devon are getting in on the act, promising to help develop your inner chef using locally produced fare. Not only is locally-grown, organic produce good for the planet; it also tastes better than its intensively-farmed, factory-produced counterparts. But if you’re new to the art of cooking from scratch, giving your diet an eco-friendly makeover can be daunting. Luckily help is at hand in the form of a glut of cookbooks that combine tips on greener shopping with plenty of easy-to-make recipes. Here are five of the best:

Seaweed and Eat It: A Family Foraging and Cooking Adventure
Authors Xa Milne and Fiona Houston present foraging as a feasible alternative to the dreaded weekly trip to the supermarket. Packed with tips on where to find your free supper, it also has plenty on proper cleaning and preparation, and of course, lots of recipes to show you what to do with them. Houston and Milne think cooking should be an adventure, so there’s never a dull moment, with historical foodie nuggets aplenty hidden among the recipes.
Best for: Anyone who likes regular walks – you’ll have to get your hiking boots on to source most of the ingredients .
Seaweed and Eat It: A Family Foraging and Cooking Adventure (£10.99, Virgin Books) is available from Beetroot Books

River Cottage Everyday
It’s hard to believe that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall hasn’t always been around to tell us what to eat, so ubiquitous has his philosophy (and the man himself) become.  Luckily, Fearnley Whittingstall is one chef who really knows his strawberries from his sardines and his emphasis on all things seasonal and local is welcome. He’s also ultra practical, which is what makes River Cottage Everyday such a kitchen essential. Not only does it have plenty of hearty, easy-to-recreate recipes, it’s also got a wealth of information on sustainable sourcing and eating seasonally. 
Best for: Families looking for ways to cook organically on a budget will appreciate the quick and inexpensive recipes.
River Cottage Everyday (£25, Bloomsbury Publishing) is available from Amazon

The Acorn House Cookbook: Good Food from Field to Fork
Founder of the environmentally friendly Acornhouse restaurant in London, Dawson famously took on the likes of Tesco in the television series The People’s Supermarket. With an introduction penned by Jamie Oliver, Potts Dawson’s tome offers recipes that are both good for you and for the planet plus advice on dealing with leftovers, a guide to seasonal food and tips on greening your kitchen.
Best for: Fans of The People’s Supermarket – and local food markets everywhere – will appreciate the Acorn House’s focus on local and seasonal ingredients.
The Acorn House Cookbook: Good Food from Field to Fork (£20, Hodder & Stoughton) is available from Waterstones

Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen
Inspired by the lack of healthy options at mainstream supermarkets, authors Anna Blythe Lappé and Bryant Terry have created a collection of more than a dozen menus with songs, artwork and poetry to accompany them. Grub is more than just a cookbook; it’s a lifestyle guide for those who appreciate sustainable food that also supports community development and social justice.
Best for: Urban cooking enthusiasts passionate about their food and where it comes from
Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (£15.99, Jeremy P Tarcher) is available from Amazon

Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low Carbon Lifestyle
Jackie Newgent’s work is a kitchen essential for all eco conscious foodies. Reducing the environmental impact of cooking is its raison d’être, providing tips on how to reduce your kitchen’s carbon footprint ( for example, reducing cooking time, preparing multiple meals together and using fewer animal products). All recipes use fresh, seasonal ingredients and are accompanied by tips on reducing food waste and sourcing local ingredients.
Best for: If you always find yourself pressed for time in the kitchen, this is the cookbook for you, as all recipes require less than 20 minutes cooking time.
Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low Carbon Lifestyle (£16.99, John Wiley & Sons) is available from Better World Books

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