Ditching the Drive-Thru Book Review and Giveaway

As a society, we have become more and more concerned about the quality of the foods fed to our families. Unfortunately, so many of us fall into the busy-family trap and find ourselves giving in to the pull of fast food and processed convenience foods to simplify our overloaded schedules.  While my family does skip the drive-thru meals and we do work really hard to cut most of the processed foods from our diets; we still have a lot of opportunities for improvement. I was interested in reading and reviewing J. Natalie Winch's tips in her latest book. What did I think of Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my review. All opinions are my own. I have also joined the book tour giveaway for this book--and you may enter to win a copy of this book or an Amazon gift card at the end of this post.

Quick Summary of Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch. After an exhausting day at work, hitting the drive-thru or nuking a pre-fab meal is all too often the go-to decision for feeding a family. Cooking a meal from scratch using fresh ingredients can seem beyond the average person’s time, energy, or financial means. But with mounting evidence pointing to processed food and our industrial food system as the culprits behind many of our nation’s health problems—including obesity, diabetes, and cancer—it’s now more important than ever to be fully informed about what goes on your family’s dinner plates.

If you’re ready to take control of your food choices but don’t know the difference between grass-fed versus grain-fed, pastured versus free-range, or organic versus sustainable, read this book to discover:

• How to create your own thirty-month plan to convert your family from junk food to real food, without a revolt!

• Recipes and advice on planning and prepping meals so you can make homecooked a habit for your family

• Instructions for getting the most out of produce using techniques such as lacto-fermentation, dehydrating, and canning

•  introduction to the world of farm-direct sales, including tips on locating local farms, seeing through marketing buzzwords, and shopping with CSAs Ditching the Drive-Thru exposes the insidious hold the commercial food industry has taken over the fast-paced lives of the average American and the danger these processed foods and diet plans pose to our health, environment, and emotional wellbeing.

Learn how to break free from the grind and return to a simpler relationship with food from farmers, not factories, and home-cooked meals that are created in your kitchen, not on a conveyor belt.

Ditching the Drive-Thru explains the many problems or our "busy" diets. Winch puts a great deal of effort into the research and development of this book. While she immediately informs the reader that she is not a nutritionist or dietitian--she is obviously very well informed and passionate about whole foods and the benefits of a truly healthy diet. She explains and defines the many terms bombarding us at the supermarket and delves extensively into the dangers of our commercialized food system. Rather than simply slamming the food industry and modern diets, Winch backs up her many findings and claims with cited sources throughout the book. She explains the problems of our busy diet in an easy to follow manner--and includes easy to verify sources behind her statements.

Ditching the Drive-Thru doesn't take readers on a guilt trip. The author acknowledges that changing our long-time, bad-food habits is a major lifestyle change for many of us. She even admits that busy schedules have pushed her toward the drive-thru line as well. Rather than laying on another working-parent with not-enough-hours-in-the week guilt trip; Winch encourages small steps and offers tips and tricks to make slight changes toward a long term plan. I will admit that planning and prepping home cooked, whole food meals alone is daunting on a working parent's schedule. So, there were a few times when Winch discussed her large garden and preserving her own foods, that I felt myself feeling a little overwhelmed. I had to stop and put the text into perspective: Winch has developed her food production and processing patterns--and worked them into her lifestyle--over time. She didn't begin these habits all at once. She is illustrating the many possibilities readers may someday do with their foods--not what they should do, all at once, this weekend. 

Would I recommend Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch? Even as much as I already know about processed foods and the effects of those foods on our health; I was able to add a few new terms and many new ideas to my ever-growing diet/lifestyle change. This book is packed with information to inform those just beginning to learn about processed foods--but, offers a lot for those at later stages of diet transformation as well. I originally wondered about Winch's 30-Month Plan for readers seeking to implement diet changes. But, she is spot on with the fact that Ditching the Drive-Thru is a difficult, lifestyle change and readers will need to plan many, many small changes over time to reach their long-term diet goals. I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand the need for change in our "fast food" diets--as well as for those continuing to develop their own 30-month (or longer) changes. While Winch doesn't offer a cookie-cutter, 30-day plan for readers; she offers a lot of ideas, tips, and resources to help readers set their own goals to fit their own lives.

Buy the book:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Read an Excerpt from Ditching the Drive-Thru
Making Informed Food Choices
by J. Natalie Winch
In science the phrase “a just-noticeable difference” refers to the exact moment an observer can tell the difference between two stages, when white becomes gray, or when a sound can actually be perceived as louder. I traveled through life doing the same-old, same-old, until one day I hit that just-noticeable difference, that point where I realized definitively that things had changed and felt compelled to say enough is enough. I think most of us are like this—you can tolerate someone giving you a bad time for a little while, but eventually you get to the point where it must stop.

The just-noticeable difference for my family and our impetus for change began with the birth of our daughter. She was a very healthy newborn, with fat pink cheeks and big blue-green eyes, and I was breastfeeding her. Things were going along fine, and then she got colicky. We tried the gas drops. They worked a little, but she was still colicky. We tried infant massage, we tried spacing out her feedings, we tried feedings that were closer together, but she was still colicky. The child seemed to cry, cry, and cry, and that was all. Sleep? Not much. Not for any of us.

At the time, my favorite breakfast was a grapefruit, peeled like an orange. Nothing was a better wake-up for me than the zesty aroma of grapefruit. One morning we were out of grapefruits, so I had oatmeal instead. And my daughter was less colicky. When I mentioned this to one of my friends, she told me that when she was nursing her son, he would spit up whenever she had eaten broccoli.

I began experimenting. In the end, I had to avoid onions, garlic, broccoli, and cabbage; I gave up my precious grapefruits; and I sacrificed even my beloved chocolate for my daughter’s comfort and an end to sleepless nights.

One mournful, chocolate-free night, after rocking my daughter for what felt like halfway down the Mississippi River, I rocked right across that just-noticeable difference: if what I eat passes through my milk to my daughter, wouldn’t the same hold true for the cows from whence we get our milk? If what I ate had such an immediate and detrimental effect on our daughter, do the dairy products we consume have such an effect on us? And what if, because we had been consuming these tainted products for so long, all of this has built up in our systems so that we wouldn’t notice enough to make a connection between the dairy and feeling poorly? I ran down the steps to share my revelation with Greg: He considered, we discussed, and I began researching.

What I discovered left me rather disconcerted: even the perimeter of the store can be polluted and deceptive. The perishables found around the perimeter of the grocery store in refrigerated or freezer cases are mass-produced. If I am looking at a cut of meat, and it looks nice and red, and the best-by date is over a week away, it should be fresh, right? But some meats are sold in modified atmosphere packaging to increase the amount of time the meat is red and looks fresh. Farmed fish is displayed on a bed of ice to make it look just caught. Unsustainable and inhumane concentrated animal feeding operations supply our beef, pork, chickens (and therefore eggs), and dairy found around the perimeter of the store.

As consumers we have become comfortable with anonymity. Even when we have knowledge, we choose in ways seem counterintuitive. When Odysseus traveled to the Underworld, the blind prophet Tiresias warned him not to slaughter the cattle of the Sun god, a warning that Odysseus passed along to his men. The men however, did not listen. They feasted on the forbidden cattle and paid with their lives. We know that perishable food production is an industry. And just like all industries, the corporate structures within that industry are out to make a profit. When we are hungry we want to eat, not taking into consideration the consequences of the choices we make.

Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch (2015, Spikehorn Press, ISBN 978-1-943015-06-1, $19.95)

Meet the Author:

J. Natalie Winch lives in southern New Jersey, not far from where she grew up, with her husband, two children, and dogs. 

When she isn’t mothering, teaching, grading, or making lesson plans, Natalie runs the Hebrew School at her synagogue, coaches soccer, teaches lacto-fermentation classes, writes the occasional entry for her blog Food Empowerment (, and fights the dust bunnies that threaten to take over her family room.

Connect with the author:   Website 

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