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18 Summer Must-Read Books

If you are planning to use the extra hours of daylight to sit out in your favorite Adirondack chair or lounge in your peaceful hammock with a good book—and you are intrigued by all-things-food—then consider Food Tank’s hand-picked book list designed to educate and inspire readers.

What will you be reading this summer? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Food Tank, which strives to create a new way of thinking about global food system issues, has selected books to create ideas on how to eat healthier, safer, more fairly produced food. And of course to create anticipation to cook, eat and share what you learn.

So visit your local independent bookstore, or dust off your library card, and delve into important issues, from food and health to agriculture and climate, and many morsels in between. Happy reading.

Food Tank's 18 summer must-reads are as follows:

1. Agri-culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature by Jules Pretty

This book takes an in-depth look at the issues enveloped in the agriculture and food systems. Pretty emphasizes changing behaviors and reforming policies in order for an agricultural revolution to take place. He draws on stories of successful agricultural transformation in both developing and industrialized countries, calling on the next agricultural revolution.

2. Cooperative Farming: Frameworks for Farming Together by Faith Gilbert

Gilbert designed this 54-page guidebook through interviews with 42 start-up and established collaborative farm projects across North America. She gathered input from 18 professionals and advisors, and 50 publications in cooperative development, farm business, finance, land access and more. This book highlights processes that make collaborations effective and function in order to provide mutual satisfaction and benefits.

3. Don't Cook the Planet: Deliciously Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time by Emily Abrams

An 18-year-old activist from Massachusetts, Abrams' new cookbook features 70 recipes shared by celebrity and all-star chefs including, actor, producer and eco-activist Chevy Chase, MasterChef judge and acclaimed chef, Graham Elliot, and Stephanie Izard, Top Chef Star and executive chef at Girl & the Goat. This cookbook offers recipes and tips on how to minimize your carbon footprint. Abrams hope to impact her generation through this cookbook featuring positive food choices.  

4. Eating Wildly by Ava Chin

Follow Chin in this touching and informative memoir as she forages for food in New York City. Chin is an “urban forager” on the quest for eating better, eating healthier and more sustainably, regardless of location. She takes the reader on an emotional journey—finding solace in parks and backyards where she connects with rare and delicious edible plants. Her experiences in nature enliven taste buds and stir emotions.

5. Fields of Hope and Power by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé

Fields of Hope and Power is a chapter from the upcoming Navdanya book on agroecological movements, living democracy and the limits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and industrial agriculture. This chapter takes an in-depth look at food scarcity and how agriculture and climate affect this issue. The Lappés investigate how the farmers at Navdanya have contributed to setting up the largest direct marketing fair trade organic network in India.

6. Foods for Health: Choose and Use the Very Best Foods for Your Family and Our Planet by Barton Seaver and P.K Newby

Seaver and Newby have created a science-based guide to healthy eating for the whole family which features tips, food pairings and sample menus. The authors take the reader on a culinary tour of 148 foods which have high nutritional value and the least environmental impact. This book teaches readers how to prepare healthy food and meals while making the best choice for their body and the planet.

7. Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture by Christopher Rosin, Paul Stock and Hugh Campbell

The authors provide a critical assessment of the global food system during heightened food crisis and feeding a growing population. This book explores contraindications in policy and practice that hinder solutions to the food crisis. Case studies expose neoliberal policies involved with the production end of the food system which provides insight to the current challenges for feeding the world. Rosin, Stock and Campbell provide alternative strategies to create a more just and moral food system.

8. Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester R. Brown

Brown exposes the planet’s volatile food system with eroding soils, rising temperatures and countries competing for land and water resources. He writes, “food is the new oil.” Political up rise and food scarcity are concerning issues, which Brown addresses and presents solutions to.

9. Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras by Tanya M. Kerssen

This book explores the history of agribusiness and land conflicts in Northern Honduras. In the Aguan Valley, Honduran peasants battle large palm oil producers and fight for democratization of land, food and political power. Kerssen shows how peasants in crime and drug laden communities are leading a strong and inspiring movement, with no signs of backing down.

10. In the Garden: A Botanically Illustrated Gardening Book by Sandra Lynn McPeake

Great for the coffee or kitchen table, this book includes basic growing information and detailed images of vegetable growth cycles from seedlings to the inside of veggies. McPeake provides gardening tips, supplies growers will need, and how to keep a gardening journal. Learn to share and grow with this illustrated guide.

11. Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America by Douglas Gayeton

A guide to more than 200 agriculture terms explained by experts in the field and complemented by stunning visuals, this book explores rebuilding local food movements. Gayeton traveled the U.S. taking photos and learning from today’s top sustainability practitioners to create this reference book.

12. Savor: Mindful Eating for Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung

This book will make you stop and think about your eating habits and patterns. Buddhist monk, Hanh, and nutritional expert, Dr. Cheung, discuss how to become more aware and mindful of our bodies, drawing special attention to how we eat. This book explores the physical, emotional, psychological and environmental factors which control our weight. 

13. Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity by Barbara Burlingame and Sandro Dernini

This publication, by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), investigates the link between sustainable diets and biodiversity. It addresses the relationship between agriculture, health, environment and food industries- indicating the most sustainable diets have low environmental impacts. This text can be used as a reference for policy, research and action.  

14. Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms and Communities Worldwide by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox

This book is a collection of profiles, interviews and essays which feature 60 innovative community-based projects around the globe in diverse climates. Birnbaum and Fox visited communities all around the world looking for ecological design systems. From urban gardeners to native seed-saving collectives to ecovillage developments, the common thread that weaves these thriving communities together is permaculture systems.

15. The Arcadia Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook by JuJu Harris

This cookbook incorporates Women Infants and Children (WIC) staples along with seasonal produce to create easy and delicious recipes. Harris, Arcadia Culinary Educator and Mobile Market Outreach Coordinator, wanted to create healthy and nutritious recipes around WIC provisions. What started out as a simple compilation of recipes has turned into a successful business venture; Harris plans to offer a Spanish version later this year.

16. The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock by Tony Weis

Weis discusses the “meatification” of human diets and the adverse impact it has on the earth and human health. Weis believes the conversion of grain and oilseed into meat is inefficient in a world striving to provide a basic diet to those chronically hungry. He explains why the growth and industrialization of livestock production is a central part of industrial capitalist agriculture.

17. The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber (coming soon!)

This book explores Barber’s vision for a new future of American eating. After a decade of research on farming communities throughout the world, Barber concludes America’s food needs a radical transformation to ensure the future of our health, food and land. From his restaurant’s kitchen to farmers’ fields, Barber’s experiences lead him to propose a “third plate”—a new pattern of eating rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm.

18. We the Eaters by Ellen Gustafson (coming soon!)

Gustafson explores how eaters and consumers can transform the global food system by changing what is on their dinner plates. The book investigates the global industrial food system using the classic American dinner as a template and provides actionable solutions to start ripple effects of change. The book’s manifesto is: If we change dinner, we change the world.

Any books you would add to the list?

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