Ditching The Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch

Ditching the Drive Thru is both an invitation and a guide to eating healthier. Author Winch breaks down the problems with store bought groceries and fast food – then provides a roadmap to farm fresh and whole foods. The perspective here is a bit different since we don’t have a nutritionist or doctor doling the advice; rather, this is a teacher who slowly transitioned her family into healthier eating habits, one step at a time. She draws upon her experiences to help others do the same.

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The book breaks down as follows: Part 1: The call for change: modern America’s relationship with food (food culture, and perception, diet mythology, the food maze, seeing the boundaries, corporate marketing manipulation, reading the compass/making informed choices). Part 2: Embarking on the journey: How to make a change that lasts (the value of farm-fresh, agri-cabulary, navigation/keeping sane on the journey, perpetuation/creating and maintaining good habits, taking the first step/turning theory into practice. Included are an epilogue, appendixes (30 month plan and food preservation and recipes), resources and index.

Winch’s tone is very encouraging and she isn’t espousing an ‘all in or nothing’ approach. Rather, suggestions include starting to buy farm fresh (CSAs) for a few months, weaning away from packaged or processed foods, and slowly but surely moving away from supermarkets and restaurants. Since she is located in New Jersey, there is an appreciation that farm fresh isn’t available in the Winter months and so suggestions are given for that time of the year as well.

There are some minor expenditures that might be needed for this new way of eating; e.g., if you are going to buy a whole cow and bring it home, you’ll need an additional freezer. Other things like a blender or dehydrator, canning supplies, etc., will also be useful/helpful/needed. But there are interesting savings comparisons that support the decisions and choices made in the book.

There are a few recipes in the back for some items that you might not find in most cookbooks/are useful in a variety of ways (e.g, cooking a heart or creating a successful broth) but they are meant as a starting point and not a one-stop resource. Indeed, resources for recipes and more are given at the back of the book.

Books like this, with a very driven author, can either be useful or useless – depending on whether that author can translate their success/story in a useful way to a different type of audience who doesn’t share their drive. With Ditching the Drive-Thru, Winch isn’t caught up in her own story and has taken time to see from the perspective of readers and all their various reasons why they haven’t taken the time/effort to change their own unhealthy lifestyles. As such, it is a book that can be read quickly but with profound consequences: useful/usable tips and a better understanding of the food industry and how it affects/confuses/fools the consumer. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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