More-with-Less: Changing the world, one recipe at a time

Cookbook fans invited to help choose, revise recipes through survey 

March 17, 2015 | Web First
<p><em>More-with-Less Cookbook</em> author Doris Longacre and her daughter Cara Sue prepare a garden vegetable and ground beef dish by the Chinese stir-fry method at a seminar. (Mennonite Central Committee photo by Ernie Klassen)</p>

With one simple idea, a movement was born. As the classic cookbook of thrift and Christian compassion, the More-with-Less Cookbook has given generations of cooks healthy basic recipes that are gentle on the budget and mindful of those who are hungry.

A new 40th anniversary edition of the bestselling More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre is planned for 2016.

The cookbook was originally conceived by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and then staff member Janzen Longacre to address world hunger concerns by encouraging MCC’s constituents to reduce their food consumption by 10 percent. The book offered recipes using less meat and fewer environmental resources before that concept became trendy, and it quickly became a landmark book capturing interest far beyond Mennonites.

The new edition will include color food photography, updated nutritional information, revised recipes based on current knowledge, and other revisions.

Rachel Marie Stone, author of Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food, will manage the revision, working with an advisory group including a dietitian, representatives from MCC and Ten Thousand Villages, and other users.

“The responsibility of stewarding this resource and offering it to the next generation of readers and eaters is an honor and a privilege,” notes Stone, who says that her father declares her first solid food was from More-with-Less Cookbook. “Though my family isn’t Mennonite, I grew up eating many favorites from More-with-Less.” Stone was a voracious reader who also read the cookbook “cover to cover. It was my introduction to the idea that what I ate might have something to do with the health and well-being of people other than me.”

Stone is on the editorial board for Christianity Today and is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog and Patheos. She has written for Books and Culture, Sojourners, and many other publications, and is also author of a book for children about Jesus, The Unexpected Way. She and her husband, a professor of biblical studies, and two sons recently returned from two years in Malawi. They now live in New Jersey and worship at Christ Church in Philadelphia.

The new More-with-Less edition is part of a multiyear process of updating the World Community Cookbook series, which also includes Extending the Table (2014) and Simply in Season, scheduled for release in May 2015. The series benefits the work of MCC’s worldwide ministry of relief, development, and peacebuilding.

With 957,000 copies in print since 1976, More-with-Less is prized for its creative approach to food, thrift, hospitality, and concern for others, according to historian Rachel Waltner Goossen, who has written about the history of More-with-Less. Theologian Malinda Berry, who also grew up eating many dishes from More-with-Less, says that “Longacre’s voice resonates with prophetic witness and pastoral concern for her neighbors both in North America and around the world. We are in a time when her witness is leading to community renewal, the primary ingredient of prophetic faith.”

Doris Janzen Longacre and her husband, Paul, and two daughters, Cara and Marta, worked with MCC in Vietnam (1964–1967) and in Indonesia (1971–1972). As a home economist and theologian, Longacre was a frequent speaker on world hunger. She died from cancer in 1979, at the age of 39.

J. Ron Byler, executive director of MCC U.S., says that Longacre’s call from the 1970s to “search for a faithful response to the world’s food problem” remains integral to MCC’s ministry. Donald Peters, who leads MCC Canada, notes that “the cover image of MCC’s logo, formed from basic foods, shows a cross emptying into a dove. More-with-Less epitomizes MCC’s commitment to faith in action in the name of Christ.”

Amy Gingerich, editorial director at Herald Press, notes, “We are honored by the responsibility to carry the gifts of this important book to new readers.” Gingerich says that the more-with-less ethic is still “alive and well 40 years after Doris published this cookbook. Our aim is to ensure that the message of this cookbook remains relevant and accessible to people who have not yet encountered it.”

Readers are invited to help with recipe selection for the new edition through a survey open until April 15, 2015. All those who complete the survey will receive a 30 percent discount code for use when the new edition comes out in 2016. The survey is available at 

See also: “Cooking up discipleship” 

More-with-Less Cookbook author Doris Longacre and her daughter Cara Sue prepare a garden vegetable and ground beef dish by the Chinese stir-fry method at a seminar. (Mennonite Central Committee photo by Ernie Klassen)

Rachel Marie Stone will manage the 40th anniversary revision of the beloved More-with-Less Cookbook. (Photo by Lisa Beth Anderson)

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