Chew the fat

Check out two new books on waste-free and ethical eating

The Ethical Omnivore – A practical guide and 60 nose-to-tail recipes for sustainable meat eating

by Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard of Feather and Bone

This is a book about eating meat and how the authors think that this can be done in an ethical manner. There is a lot to like in the thorough analysis made of the way in which the meat that is eaten by the majority of people is produced and the attempts being made to provide ethical alternatives. They have obviously thought deeply about how eating meat can be done in such a way that the animals themselves can have as productive a life as possible and the land can be made more productive through the process, rather than less – mainly through the use of what has become known as regenerative agriculture.

The first half of the book explores both the current methods of mass production and industrialisation that are obviously unsustainable and cruel, and contrasts them with alternative methods that are being attempted.  These start with the importance of conserving and improving the soil, cell-grazing and appropriate stocking levels. They continue on to the vital difference it makes to the quality of the meat for the animal to have a good death; for the butcher to buy the meat on the bone, dry age it and skilfully butcher the carcass.

The authors stress the need for both the butcher and the consumer to be knowledgeable and discerning and see this book as a step in the process towards an educated consumer that demands ethical meat bought from an informed and skilful butcher. In the second half of the book they follow through on this promise by providing recipes that seek to give the reader the confidence to buy unfamiliar cuts of meat and make tasty meals.

If you want to eat meat this is a good start towards educating yourself towards a more ethical practice. Within our current system finding any meat that could be said to be ethical is hard, if not practically impossible for those not within reach of their nearest ethical butcher. This book is a cry for this to change.

But can eating meat ever be ethical? All life, in the end, is a compromise. The rub here is where you, personally, are willing to draw the line as to what you believe to be an informed and ethically sound choice. This book provides a lot of information that can help educate you towards making that informed choice as to what you believe it is ethical to eat. That it is partial and biased towards meat eating is undeniable; but, read with that in mind, it at least lays bare the horrors of the present system of meat production and outlines a way in which that system could be improved.

Reviewed by Colin

Images and text from The Ethical Omnivore by Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

Use it All – The Cornersmith guide to a more sustainable kitchen

by Alex Elliott-Howery & Jaimee Edwards

From the clever Cornersmith crew who brought us Cornersmith – Recipes from the cafe and picklery, and Salads & Pickles, Use it All is a practical guide to waste-free shopping and cooking that may well have been written especially for Co-op members. Divided into eight shopping basket chapters the book shows us how to reduce food waste by shopping seasonally and making careful food choices; great advice to not only manage waste but also the hip pocket.

Filled with simple and inventive ideas to “use it all”,  including tips on making the most of leftovers, wilted greens, egg whites, and stale bread, the book presents meals, sides, snacks, sweets, drinks and “foundation” recipes for the whole family. No-waste hacks include quick preserves and food storage fixes. A great gift idea for when the kids move out of home or for anyone who wants to make their kitchen more sustainable and pick up a swag of great recipes.

See Perfect Panzanella recipe here.

Images and text from Use It All by Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards, photography by Cath Muscat. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.


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