Some (don’t) Like it Hot! A review of “Diet for a Hot Planet: The climate crisis at the end of our fork.” by Anna Lappe`

Thanks to a lack of babysitters, I got to see “Some Like it Hot” (my most favorite movie of all time) as a child. The “hot” in the title refers to jazz. I remember how the audience roared with laughter at the closing line. People walked out of the theatre ebullient, smiling and chattering about the film. The antics of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis made a lasting impression and I was hooked.
Although “Diet for a Hot Planet” certainly may not evoke the same
enthusiasm, it is definitely a “must-read” for all environmentalists concerned about global warming and our “hot” planet.

An all-inclusive synopsis of our climate crisis, Lappe` details the environmental and social impacts of our food choices. She gives the reader insights, hope and specific tools for adopting a more climate-friendly diet.

In many ways this book is a sequel to “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe`, written by the author’s mother in 1971. Unlike the parent book, Anna exposes the machinations of large agri-businesses and their carefully orchestrated publicity campaigns to make them appear “green”.
The author’s clarification of nitrogen production and its impact in the second half of the twentieth century is especially enlightening and explains why we are losing topsoil faster than Nature can make it.

She discusses the effects of palm oil plantations and how products like granola bars, potato chips, cookies, crackers, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and fuel (all containing palm oil) are destroying Asian rainforests and peat lands.

The Seven Principles of a Climate-friendly Diet (eat whole foods, eat more plant-based, go organic, eat locally-grown, compost, reuse/recycle and grow your own food) are not unfamiliar to most environmentalists.

The section on how to identify organic produce and the differentiation between various labels and food certifications I found especially helpful. Lappe` neglects to mention that raising animals locally and organically does not reduce the amount of food or water required to produce meat or that the animals produce as much waste as factory farmed animals.

The book has extensive footnotes, bibliography and an action and resources section so the reader can be well-equipped to pursue climate-friendly eating.

Perhaps by following the precepts suggested in “Diet for a Hot Planet”, like Marilyn’s character “Sugar”, we can avoid getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Here are some ‘hot” recipes to enjoy:

Quick & Easy Black Bean Salsa

Splash or two of red wine vinegar, to taste

Salt & pepper, to taste

1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or to taste (red is hotter than green)

1 16 ounce can black beans: Drain liquid, then fill can with fresh water, let it sit 10 minutes, drain again & rinse. You’ve just removed 70% of the salt in the beans. Or use 2 cups cooked black beans.

1 16 ounce can Mexican style corn, drained

¼ cup sliced green onions/scallions

1 large ripe red tomato, diced or ½ pint cherry/grape tomatoes, diced

2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled. Dice one & puree the other. Use one avocado, pureed for less calories.

Fresh lemon juice to taste

In a large bowl, mix together the vinegar and Tabasco. Add the drained beans, corn, scallions and lemon juice. Toss together then stir in tomato and avocado. Add ground pepper & salt to taste. Mix well & serve with baked tortilla or pita chips or crackers. Use this versatile dish in a green salad, as an appetizer, side dish or in a whole grain wrap. Heat it up and serve over whole grain pasta or rice as an entrée. (Adapted from a recipe of Nancy Voitko, APLNJ member)

Rainbow Barley Salad

2 cups cooked pearl barley

½ - ¾ cup dried cranberries

½ cup frozen shelled cooked edamame (soybeans) blanched for 3 minutes

¼ cup diced celery

¼ cup diced carrots, blanched for 3 minutes

¼ cup chopped red cabbage

3 teaspoons olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Add all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Serve at room temperature or warm and as a salad, side dish or entrée.

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