Throughout 2014, Food Tank provided four seasonal lists of “must-read” books about all things food. From family recipes to discussions of climate issues affecting the food system, 2014 yielded a bountiful harvest of new books, which offered readers a closer look at food, farming, and challenges faced on the path to a more just, healthy, and sustainable food system. As we enter the New Year, Food Tank would like to recognize a few of these outstanding titles that provide inspiration and knowledge about growing, cooking, and eating food.
These are Food Tank’s Top 10 Books About Food in 2014.
American Catch by Paul Greenberg
James Beard Award-winning author, Paul Greenberg, serves up refreshing perspective on the problems with a globalized seafood supply chain. The discussion dives into the contradictory nature of seafood consumption, which has Americans selling one-third of their domestic catch, while at the same time consuming mostly foreign harvested seafood. And Greenberg offers concrete solutions to the seafood industry’s long-term sustainability problem leaving readers with a new sense of hope for the future of seafood.
The Carnivore’s Manifesto: Eating Well, Eating Responsibly, and Eating Meat by Patrick Martins with Mike Edison
From ground beef to chicken breasts, meat has become a staple in the American diet. However, navigating the web of labels and packaging to find ethically produced options is undeniably overwhelming. In this book, the founder of Heritage Food USA and Slow Food USA, Patrick Martins, with Mike Edison, give consumers insight into how to make smarter choices that are better for animals and the communities that raise them.
The Chain: Farm, Factory and the Fate of Our Food by Ted Genoways
In this thorough investigation, Genoways gathers a variety of stories from across the country in an “attempt to calculate the true cost of cheap meat.” Interviews with workers, union leaders, farmers, and activists tell the story of an industry pushed to the brink at the expense of the health and safety of all humans and animals involved.
Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet by Sarah Elton
The United Nations projects that global population will reach 8 billion by the year 2025 and many experts are worried that we can’t feed this growing population. From Nairobi to Detroit, Elton gathers inspiring stories of sustainability, celebrating how different people all over the world are piecing together local and sustainable alternatives to the deeply problematic industrial food system.
Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production by Nicolette Hahn Niman
In response to the ecological objection that cattle production produces more harm than good, biologist, environmental lawyer, long-time vegetarian and rancher, Nicolette Hahn Niman presents the case that raising cattle can in fact have many environmental benefits. These benefits, she argues, include helping to sustain grassland as well as producing nutrient efficient products for human consumption. Using scientific data, Niman argues how small-scale, grass-fed cattle operations are actually part of a long-term sustainability solution.
The James Beard Award-winning author, Elissa Altman tells the story of growing up with a food-loving father and a food-fearing mother and how this paradox cultivated Altman’s relationship with food. This book is at once an honest memoir and a relatable cookbook showing readers that food is a crucial ingredient in all human relationships.
Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung
World-renowned spiritual leader and Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh walks readers through the interconnections between mindful living and healthy eating practices. Nutritionist Lilian Cheung presents a helpful nutrition guide alongside Hanh’s everyday tools, meditation practices, and advice for goal setting. This book has the potential to bridge the gap between mind and body for eaters of all walks of life.
The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber
Grounded in the historical evolution of the American diet, Chef Dan Barber puts forth a proposal for the development of a revolutionary pattern of eating—the ‘third plate’. Despite the best intentions of the farm-to-table movement, the environmental impact of the food system is still deeply problematic—but Barber has the solution. Gathering information in farming communities from the Straights of Gibraltar to Upstate New York, Barber’s ‘third plate’ proposition places good eating at the center of good farming and good health.
Waste Matters edited by David Evans, Hugh Campbell, and Anne Murcott
Through the lens of sociology, economics, and anthropology, this collection presents pertinent scholarship on the topic of food waste. Essays explore the ideology of food waste as well as social practices concerning food, waste, and their value in society. In addition to providing insight into how waste is constructed socially, the collection describes several American innovations developed to deal with arguably one of the most pressing modern food issues.
We the Eaters by Ellen Gustafson
Starting with the paradoxical relationship between hunger and obesity in America, Ellen Gustafson explores how a change in American eating habits can mean positive change for the global food system. Gustafson investigates the linkages between portion size, health, and food policy, presenting tangible and implementable solutions for the global food crisis as well as the growing domestic public health crisis.