Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food Book Review

The Bi-Rite book is a manual for inspired eating

As its overstuffed title implies, the new Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food: A Grocer's Guide to Shopping, Cooking, and Creating Community Through Food ($32) is more than a cookbook.

Written by market owner Sam Mogannam and coauthor Dabney Gough, with contributions from longtime staffers, it does contain recipes: smart, simple ones like Any-Herb Pesto.

But the best part may be the shopping guides. Arranged by department, like Bi-Rite itself, they cover everything Bi-Rite sells: wine, cheese, meat, produce–even olives.

One might wonder when anyone would need olive-buying advice, but the book is packed with surprises. We learn, for example, that most olives are pasteurized to preserve shelf life, so it pays to seek out fresher, unpasteurized varieties.

Thanks to Mogannam, we'll now buy leafy greens with a few tiny holes from bug bites, an indication the greens are grown in a pesticide-free environment. We'll store cheese in the crisper drawer (the added moisture keeps cheese from drying out) and patronize a butcher counter where the chickens are of varying sizes, a good sign they came from a rancher whose chickens grow to naturally irregular proportions.

The book is less a cookbook than a handy manual for good eating. That, we can stand behind.