Former Norfolk vet Judith’s new book will help foodbanks keep going

The Red Herring Book of Food Facts by Judith Ellis Picture: The Red Herring Book

The Red Herring Book of Food Facts by Judith Ellis Picture: The Red Herring Book - Credit: The Red Herring Book

Not another book about food! Yes, but one like no other written by a former Norfolk vet which will help those using foodbanks. Derek James takes a look

The Red Herring Book of Food Facts by Judith Ellis. Picture: Judith Ellis

The Red Herring Book of Food Facts by Judith Ellis. Picture: Judith Ellis - Credit: Judith Ellis

Food. Quite a subject and one which tends to dominate our lives. It seems every time we switch the television on we see people baking and cooking and when we are not watching we are reading about it in newspapers, magazines and books.

But for some people food can cause major problems. What to eat and what not to eat. Life in the kitchen can be tough and challenging for many.

Take Judith Ellis, who worked as a vet before turning bookbinder, artist and author and running The Book Studio in Aylsham. She has just published a little gem called The Red Herring Book of Food Facts.

It tells an important story in such a wonderful and informative way, includes recipes and all profits go to the Trussell Trust, which supports the nationwide network of more than 1,200 food banks and does great work to help those struggling to survive.

Why did Judith write it?

“Having been diagnosed with a malfunctioning pancreas, I wanted to do all I could to help my body recover from several years of weight loss which had been caused by my ability to digest food properly. Along the way I had also found I had developed an intolerance to gluten,” she explained.

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It soon became apparent that most of her friends only had a hazy idea of what gluten was and what the pancreas actually did.

So Judith thought there was a need for a brief guide explaining in simple terms the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance, a prebiotic and a probiotic and so much more…

“I had realised by now that most of the baked gluten-free good available in the shops were largely empty calories made up mostly of white rice flour and different starches. If I wanted to continue to avoid processed food I would have to learn how to bake more nutritious breads and cakes than that,” she said.

So, for a few weeks her kitchen became a laboratory as she began to experiment with trials of existing recipes, adapting them to gluten free and lower in fat.

“It was fascinating for me to begin to understand some of the principles and the trade-offs between nutritious content and good flavours, added Judith.

She started to write a few things down when she became interested in the confusing array of goods in the diary aisle of the supermarkets.

“Whatever were they all? High fat, low fat, did they contain sugar, and how much protein did they have? It took a long time to get them all sorted out and I learnt a great deal in the process,” she said.

That was just the start.

Judith vaguely remembered a TV programme where Michael Moseley was demonstrating how certain cooking oils became toxic when heated so she turned her attention to oils.

A far more difficult and complex area to understand, the more so because of the conflicting and incomplete advice.

After much research she says: “I was able to present the basic information, so a choice of the right oil to use could be an informed one rather than just blindly following anyone’s recommendation.”

What next?

Having got this far in the learning process it seemed a pity not to share it more generally, so the idea was born to produce a short book for family and friends,

The project escalated as we all became more aware of the growing crisis in food poverty and the vital role food banks were playing in this so I decided to produce it commercially giving all the proceeds to the Trussell Trust,” said Judith.

So, what was originally going to be just a dozen copies for friends quickly grew into a more collaborative project with Niki Medlik, book designer, volunteering to produce a cover design and an artist friend Janine Pope to do some brilliant artwork for it.

The highly respected company Barnwell Print of Aylsham has produced a run of 200 copies to see how sales get on.

This is a truly local project, with great advice, facts and figures, and recipes, which supports such a good cause. Especially in these troubled times.

“The difficulty with a new book is getting it to the attention of the public.

“Once the bookshops are open it will get more exposure, but I am asking everyone who buys a copy to tell someone else about it,” says Judith

The book costs just £5 and can be bought through her website using Paypal and postage costs £1.50 or £2 for two copies. The costs come down for more so email Judith who can also arrange delivery for the details. That’s or