Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

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Chelsea Green

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In Full Moon Feast , accomplished chef and passionate food activist Jessica Prentice champions locally grown, humanely raised, nutrient-rich foods and traditional cooking methods. The book follows the thirteen lunar cycles of an agrarian year, from the midwinter Hunger Moon and the springtime sweetness of the Sap Moon to the bounty of the Moon When Salmon Return to Earth in autumn. Each chapter includes recipes that display the richly satisfying flavors of foods tied to the ancient rhythm of the seasons. Prentice decries our modern food culture: megafarms and factories, the chemically processed ghosts of real foods in our diets, and the suffering—physical, emotional, cultural, communal, and spiritual—born of a disconnect from our food sources. She laments the system that is poisoning our bodies and our communities. But Full Moon Feast is a celebration, not a dirge. Prentice has emerged from her own early struggles with food to offer health, nourishment, and fulfillment to her readers. She recounts her relationships with local farmers alongside ancient harvest legends and methods of food preparation from indigenous cultures around the world. Combining the radical nutrition of Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, keen agri-political acumen, and a spiritual sensibility that draws from indigenous as well as Western traditions, Full Moon Feast is a call to reconnect to our food, our land, and each other.


Jessica Prentice
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annotated edition
Chelsea Green
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Chelsea Green
Chelsea Green
Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection
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In today's foodie community, it's becoming more and more difficult to ignore the calls for food which is not processed and packaged.  It's a movement towards the fresh and local, where you visit your local farmer's market for produce instead of buying cans of salted and preserved vegetables.  It's a movement that's starting to take hold in the US, although slowly, as people become more and more aware of exactly what it is that they are putting in their mouths.

Part of this growing knowledge of where the food we eat comes from is an awareness that food should be eaten during the times of year when it is prevalent, instead of shipping fruits and vegetables in from halfway across the world.  Enjoying a big bowl of strawberries in the dead of winter is becoming more and more frowned upon as people begin rediscovering what it means to live close to the land and to appreciate its bounty.  The days of thoughtless consumption are facing a strong argument.

Jessica Prentice does an amazing job in her book, Full Moon Feast, of bringing this idea of local and seasonal eating to even more understandable level.  She has broken her book into twelve chapters, each corresponding to the months of the year, naming each after ancient ways of keeping track of time.  For each month, she explains how our ancestors fed themselves during the lean and the fat times, but always within season and never from shipping from afar.

The book is more than just a list of recipes.  It's fairly obvious that Ms. Prentice did a significant amount of research before writing, and it comes across in all the sound advice she gives to people who have lost the knowledge of the past.  She doesn't just touch on one culture's understanding of the natural seasonal cycles, but explains that all cultures approach the changes of the year in a similar manner.

In keeping with the idea of the book, I attempted recipes that followed the sound advice presented, and kept to the leaner months of the year.  The first recipe, Cream of Butternut Squash Soup, turned out creamy and tangy.  It was also easy on the budget, since I wasn't purchasing any items that were out of season or imported from abroad.  This soup comes from the Wolf Moon month, and I could see how hiding inside from the cold with my steamy bowl of soup was appropriate for the time.  Unfortunately most of the rest of the recipes from that chapter required a sourdough starter, which in turn required at least a week of preparation time.  While I like the idea (and Sourdough Cheese Herb Scones sound amazing), it would be difficult for most working adults to devote that kind of time to one ingredient.

The next recipe I prepared was the Sausage with Potatoes and Cabbage from the Moon of Long Nights chapter.  This recipe utilizes the ingredients to the maximum, deriving a large amount of flavor by cooking in the fats rendered from meat products, instead of manufactured fats, like margarine.  The recipe also uses many items that are often overlooked at the grocery store, like turnip greens and cabbage, that formed such a large part of our ancestor's diet.  The fiber in this dish alone is probably more than most adults currently get in a day.

The last recipe I tried was the Roasted Root Vegetables from the Hunger Moon chapter.  It was actually my first opportunity to try certain vegetables, like rutabaga and parsnip, that are normally not found on tables in the US.  Of course the vegetables turned out wonderfully after a drizzle of oil and a trip through a hot oven.

Jessica Prentice's book does what it sets out to do: explain where we lost our way and how to get back.  My only complaints for the book are that there are only four to six recipes for each chapter (making it more of a read than a cookbook), and that some of the recipes can be very involved and time consuming.  Each chapter also tends to have a specific focus, so if you're not really interested in fermented foods, you may have trouble finding something to eat during the Snow Moon.  But overall, it's a good read and good reminder of what we have forgotten in our zealousness for instant gratification.


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