By Danielle Nierenberg & Katherine Walla
Food Tank is highlighting 19 books about food and agriculture to fall for this season! These books explore food policy, nutrition science, healthy eating, food justice and the challenges of farming. Readers will be able to immerse themselves in new roles as activists, brewers, chefs, farmers, politicians and more.
Included in the list, consumer advocate, nutritionist and author of six prize-winning books Marion Nestle's Unsavory Truth offers readers another glance into nutrition: although nutrition advice may seem inspired by the latest science, these scientific studies often gather funding from companies seeking to promote their own products. Nestle's book, and some of the other books below, unveil how big companies and misled policy makers took over the food world—and how people are leading the effort to take it back.
Here are Food Tank's 19 top picks to inspire new and old activists, leaders and innovators in the food system.
Brew Beer Like a Yeti combines ancient practices with storytelling, mysticism, and folklore for traditional brewing processes. Recipes inspired by traditions around the globe produce beers that accentuate complex profiles of herbs and spices, inspired by the standards in beer and gruit recipes from medieval times. Readers will learn about beers that lie beyond pale ales, locating alternative ingredients to create their own signature brew.
2. Beginning to End Hunger: Food and the Environment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Beyond by M. Jahi Chappell
Beginning to End Hunger tells the story of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a city of 2.5 million people that serves as inspiration for Brazil's food security programs. Chappell's exploration of Belo Horizonte's food security programs highlights the importance of holistic approaches in any strategy to reduce hunger. Chappell also provides readers with tools to devise policies and strategies toward minimizing food insecurity in the developed and developing countries.
3. Cocoa by Kristy Leissle
In Cocoa, Leissle navigates the world of chocolate, laden with power struggles, political maneuvering, and labor exploitation. While uncovering this world, Leissle dismantles the mask that hides it all, constructed of the social, cultural, emotional, and economic values humans place on cocoa. As the cocoa industry has been exposed, Leissle traces the cocoa value chain through Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, identifying points at which the industry can become more sustainable and ethical.
4. Diet and the Disease of Civilization by Adrienne Rose Bitar
Bitar looks at the ways the multi-billion dollar diet book industry not only delivers dieting advice, but also tells readers how they should live. Through historical and literary analysis, Bitar examines four diets that, in their language, tell a story beyond food. Instead, Diet and the Disease of Civilization points out that dieting systems portray anxieties about modernity and American culture, showing readers how diets can cure a national disease: civilization.
5. Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought by Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich
Mihaly and Heavenrich invite young readers to focus on their food choices. Diet for a Changing Climate reviews the food system and climate change, recommending incorporating unlikely sources in a diet including invasive species and bugs. Including concrete actions readers can take, recipes, apps for plant identification, and a list of restaurants that serve bugs, the book aims to cultivate a responsible generation of eaters.
6. Farming While Black by Leah Penniman, Forthcoming October 2018
Penniman—author, activist, farmer, and cofounder of Soul Fire Farm—offers a manual for African-heritage people to reclaim their dignified agency in the food system. Farming While Black provides readers with tips on navigating many aspects of small-scale farming including finding land and resources, raising animals sustainably and humanely, and building the food movement through education, direct action, and policy change. Penniman also includes the stories of farmers and activists keeping African wisdom and farming practices alive.
7. Food & Nutrition: What Everyone Needs to Know by P.K. Newby
Newby encourages readers to "learn, unlearn, and relearn" what they know about healthy diets in Food & Nutrition. Including answers to questions such as health and environment, farm to fork, and a holistic approach to diet, Newby unravels myths and nutrition confusion to fight chronic disease with the power of real food. Food & Nutritioncombines science, technology, and engineering not only for healthier diets for readers, but also for the planet.
8. Food from the Radical Center by Gary Paul Nabhan
Ethnobiologist and agrarian activist Nabhan describes the ways diverse communities are bringing back America's healthy food—including bison, turkeys, ancient grains, and more. Nabhan describes that while the nation's political realm has never felt more divided, producing healthy foods unites people across camps of thought. Food from the Radical Center offers a hopeful perspective on the future of the food and environment movements, one that is inclusive and successfully restores the land and species that are unique to the country.
9. Food Justice Now! Deepening the Roots of Social Struggle by Joshua Sbicca
Food Justice Now! highlights that food justice requires more than a focus on food: it also requires a look into broader social justice topics. In the book, Sbicca navigates an activist's path from food to social justice, proving that the two are not only integrated, but that both are necessary for a community's long-term healing. Sbicca challenges scholars and activists to locate the true causes of inequities and develop political strategies or social actions to overcome these causes.
10. Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair by Gary Paul Nabhan
Nabhan, an ethnobotanist, enters deeper into what he calls "arboreality" to discover what it means to be a tree, or to be in a deep and intimate relationship with one. For Mesquite, Nabhan explores the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts along the United States/Mexico border, where plants are stunted and life seems to be scarce. Finding the mesquite tree in this landscape, symbolic of life for many indigenous cultures and creatures, Nabhan discovers that there is both life and a delicious world of food in the desert.
11. One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl's Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture by Stephanie Anderson, Forthcoming January 2019
In One Size Fits None, writer and professor Anderson argues that sustainable agriculture isn't enough to provide nutrient-rich food and fight climate change: regenerative agriculture will provide the necessary agricultural alternative. Anderson follows farmers across the United States using non-traditional agricultural techniques that respond to the local environment needs and the planet's resources. One Size Fits None shows how various operations can contribute to
12. The Doctor's Diet by Dr. Sandro Demaio
Demaio, star of ABC's Ask the Doctor, filters through nutrition confusion and conflicting dietary advice to locate the most simple and affordable ways to craft a healthy diet. Drawing on not only his medical expertise, Demaio also pulls wisdom from his Italian heritage to explain that a healthy diet is unprocessed, simple, and easy. The Doctor's Dietincludes 110 recipes and tips that equip readers with the tools to stave off obesity, diabetes, and heart disease: good food.
13. The Drought Resilient Farm by Dale Strickler
Farmer and rancher Strickler shares his secrets to efficiently conserve and use water on drought-stricken land. Ranging from short-term projects to long-term planning strategies, Strickler shows every farmer has options to reduce the impact of drought on their soil, crops, livestock, and ecosystem.
14. The End of Animal Farming by Jacy Reese
Reese creates a roadmap to help readers achieve the humane, ethical, and efficient food system they desire—one that doesn't include slaughterhouses at the end. Using stories from activists, scientists, and entrepreneurs leading food companies, Reese describes the path to a animal-free food system. The End of Animal Farming is a call to action to join these changemakers, tackling some of the world's most pressing problems such as food security, nutrition, and climate change.
15. The Farm Bill: A Citizen's Guide by Daniel Imhoff and Christina Badaracco, Forthcoming January 2019
The Farm Bill breaks down the nearly 1,000 page document, decoding political jargon into understandable language and graphics accessible for both policymakers and citizens. Readers will learn about how the bill evolved and how it will determine the direction of food policy into the future. Imhoff and Badaracco outline the three main components of the Farm Bill—farm subsidies, food stamps, and conservation programs—to help readers understand the full implications of the decisions they, and their politicians, make.
16. The Food Sharing Revolution: How Start Ups, Pop-Ups, and Co-Ops are Changing the Way We Eat by Michael S. Carolan, Forthcoming November 2018
In The Food Sharing Revolution, Carolan tells the stories of traditional livestock and crop producers who are finding innovative ways around the squeeze of agribusiness with a shared economy. The farmers, located in different areas of the United States, are sharing tractors, seeds, kitchens, homes, and their cultures to support one another in the endeavor for an alternative to monocrops and processed food. Readers will learn how collaboration in this model will yield a healthier, more sustainable, and more ethical way to eat.
17. The Truth About Food: Why Pandas Eat Bamboo and People Get Bamboozled by David Katz
Katz sets out to distinguish the truth from the lies in health, medicine, and the prevention of chronic disease. Katz cuts through all the rumors, trends, and misled claims in the food system to arm readers with the truth in selecting a healthy diet. The Truth About Foodalso includes Katz's own thoughts about the challenges of distinguishing between fact and fiction about food, but how a genuine understanding of nutrition is well worth the effort.
18. Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat by Marion Nestle
In Unsavory Truth, Nestle uncovers the scientific studies that influence what we eat, and finds that they're better tools for marketing than real science, often paid for by the companies that sell those foods. Readers will feel empowered to put public health first and sort through the science that dictates the options for a healthy diet. Nestle reveals not only how the food industry manipulates nutrition science, but how readers can reclaim their health from these marketing schemes.
19. We Fed an Island by Jose Andres
We Fed An Island chronicles Andres and his journey around post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico with his World Central Kitchen—an organization devoted to providing healthy meals, jobs, and school meals in areas affected by natural disasters. In Puerto Rico, Andres served culturally relevant foods such as sancocho with his friend Jose Enrique at his restaurant in San Juan, eventually preparing 100,000 meals a day across the island. We Fed An Island documents Andres's insider take on the conversations he had in Puerto Rico, including his admiration for the network of community kitchens that achieved real change and his confrontation with the roots of the crisis's deep political roots.
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By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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