By Danielle Nierenberg and Alaina Spencer
To celebrate summer, Food Tank is highlighting 18 food and agriculture books to add to your summer reading list. These books tackle topics like food policy, animal welfare and seasonal eating and allow readers to travel to Australia and Puget Sound without ever having to leave home.
1. Blessing the Hands that Feed Us: Lessons From a 10-Mile Diet, Vicki Robin
Robin takes the term local to heart by embarking on a month-long experiment eating only foods sourced within a ten-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island. She reconnects with her community, environment, and body as she learns to rely less on packaged goods and more on her neighbors. Blessing the Hands that Feed Us tells the personal story of Robin, but extends to universal lessons on ways to better live within the confines of community.
Because of the industrial food system, food shifted from family farms to large-scale productions requiring packaging and canning. Consumers moved from regularly producing their own food to relying on pre-packaged goods. Zeide chronicles this change through the story of the canning industry, explaining how food industry leaders used science, marketing, and politics to convince the hesitant public.
Tomine shares his love of nature with his children as they forage, gather, cook, and eat from the natural world around Puget Sound. Closer to the Ground tracks the uncertainty of weather, explores the local land, and offers seasonal recipes while teaching readers to live like children, full of curiosity and adventure. As a fly-fishing guide and conservation advocate, Tomine shows readers how to live harmoniously with the natural world.
4. The Community Food Forest Handbook: How to Plan, Organize, and Nurture Edible Gathering Places, Catherine Bukowski and John Munsell Forthcoming July 2018
Community food forests are springing up across the U.S. to create greater access to nutritious food and enhance environmental stability. In this book, Bukowski and Munsell provide a guide to implementing and sustaining community food forests including building engagement, working with diverse peoples, navigating public policy and managing site evolution. By diving into the civic aspects of establishing community food forests, Bukowski and Munsell provide the roadmap for people to come together, create change, and provide a site that can feed all people.
5. Eat for the Planet: Saving the World One Bite at a Time, Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone
Sharing new research, Zacharias and Stone explain how everyone can play a part in reducing climate change through their food choices. Eat for the Planet presents interesting infographics and strong arguments to support the evidence that minimal, everyday changes influence the health of the environment. By switching out meat for more plant-based meals, anyone can have a significant and positive impact on the Earth. As Zacharias and Stone believe, one bite at a time can save the world.
6. Food and Animal Welfare, Henry Buller and Emma Roe
Buller and Roe bring together new research and case studies to guide readers through animal welfare issues beginning at the farm and ending at the plate. Food and Animal Welfare investigates the ways animal welfare is defined, advocated, and implemented. The book goes on to explore the possibilities of a standard of care for animals and the ethics of selling welfare as a product.
7. Food Policy in the United States, Parke Wilde
In this second edition of Food Policy in the United States, Wilde updates all recent matters impacting U.S. food policy. This includes policy changes in the 2014 Farm Bill and possibilities in the next one, the end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, halted child nutrition legislation, changes in food-labeling, and influences of the 2016 presidential election. This edition uses real-world controversies to examine economic principles, various policies, and nutrition science with a greater focus on food justice, sustainable agriculture, and food security.
8. Forage, Harvest, Feast: A Wild-Inspired Cuisine, Marie Viljoen Forthcoming August 2018
In her new cookbook, Viljoen aims to make foraging and collecting wild foods accessible and understandable to the average cook. Not only does the work present recipes for cocktails, entrées, desserts and fermented foods, but Forage, Harvest, Feast also gets the reader out into the world of foraging to create deeper connections with foods. Viljoen highlights native plants that are unused and forgotten to bring them back into the culinary scene. She also emphasizes the use of invasive plants that hold economic and culinary potential. By focusing on both native and invasive plants, Viljoen hopes bring together new flavors and dishes and connect people to their food.
Author, journalist, and nutritionist, Kristen Lawless, chronicles how the industrial food industry is changing our food preferences, influencing our brains, altering our microbiota, and impacting our gene expressions. In Formerly Known as Food, Lawless suggests that our degrading diet is actually changing our bodies. She makes the case for how this is happening and what it means for our survival. This book sheds light on just how influential the industrial food industry is on our bodies, our society, and our future.
10. Good Apples: Behind Every Bite, Susan Futrell
Futrell takes readers into the orchards, storage rooms, laboratories, warehouses and marketing meetings to explain how consumers and eaters can support the farms providing food for our communities. She goes deep into the growth and distribution of apples to illustrate just how much and what is at stake in the way we set up our food system. Good Apples explains the ecological and economic constraints that apple growers, pickers, and buyers face to display the importance of supporting family farms.
11. How to Nourish the World, Hans R Herren
How to Nourish the World tells how Herren's foundation, Biovision, develops and applies ecological methods to enhance self-sufficiency of people living in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Biovision spreads their understanding of the environment to local peoples through grassroots projects like the cultivation of medicinal plants and teaching malaria prevention. This book displays how Herren and Biovision work to improve people's lives by preparing and exchanging knowledge about the natural world.
12. The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit, Tom Hunt
Hunt teaches cooks and eaters alike how to make simple, delicious meals without wasting anything. The Natural Cook highlights seasonal, flavorful, and plant-based dishes with a focus on 26 seasonal 'hero' ingredients. Three easy cooking techniques accompany each of the 26 featured ingredients showing readers how to make a quick, simple dish. After the techniques, Hunt gives three globe-inspired recipes to incorporate even more seasonal produce. Following each recipe are Hunt's notes giving readers tips and tricks on using the leftover or extra produce so nothing gets thrown away.
13. Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System, Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition and Danielle Nierenberg (editor)
As the global food system grows ever larger and more intertwined, Nourished Planet provides a comprehensive roadmap to feed the world sustainably. The book contains essays and interviews from international experts in all food system fields including farming, environmentalism, activism, and economics. In coming together, these professionals offer a new path toward global sustainability to include growth, culture, and health for everyone.
14. One Shot: Trees as Our Last Chance for Survival, John Leary
One Shot is the story of how Leary believes we can reverse desertification, water scarcity, hunger, poverty, and climate change by restoring agricultural lands with various combinations of trees and crops. Based off of his fifteen years doing humanitarian work with failing communities, Leary tries to explain the impact of the world's agriculture on peoples and the environment. Spanning the globe from Africa to America, One Shot connects the world's most urgent challenges to agricultural practices and offers hope in the restoration of forest gardens and tree planting.
15. Plant Powered Beauty: The Essential Guide to Using Natural Ingredients for Health, Wellness, and Personal Skincare (with 50-plus Recipes), Amy Galper and Christina Daigneault
Natural beauty experts, Galper and Daigneault, unmask the secrets of the beauty world by telling readers how to understand beauty labels, deconstruct ingredient lists, make educated choices about products, and better know how their skin works. In addition to demystifying beauty products, Plant Powered Beauty contains more than 50 simple recipes to create plant-based skincare and beauty products that work with your skin. This book connects readers back to natural beauty through plants and healthy living.
16. RetroSuburbia: The Downshifter's Guide to a Resilient Future, David Holmgren
This Australian-based book provides a manual for readers to downshift and simplify their homes, backyards, gardens, neighborhoods and lifestyles to be better organized and sustainable for the future. While the book encourages the reader to dramatically change their life, it promises a more meaningful and hopeful way of life. RetroSurbia is divided into three overarching sections: the Built, the Biological, and the Behavioral to clearly guide readers on their path to simplicity and resilience.
17. The Story of Soy, Christine M. Du Bois
The Story of Soy traces the history of soy from ancient Asia to the twenty-first century tracking the vastly differing views of soy along the way. Traversing the globe and time, Du Bois examines the diverse subjects of soy including its place in disaster relief, its influence on meat production, its impact on international conflicts, and its often controversial nutrition benefits. From the Buddhist missionaries to the European colonialists, The Story of Soy tells an overlooked account of one of the world's biggest crops.
18. Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food, Rachel Herz, PhD
In Why You Eat What You Eat, neuroscientist Rachel Herz explores how psychology, neurology and physiology shape and influence our eating habits, taste preferences, and food consumption. Herz reveals various factors that influence our eating patterns, including the way our beliefs affect the amount of calories burnt, the influences of television on how much we eat, and how our physical surrounding impacts how food tastes. Through examining our complicated relationship with food, Herz offers tips and techniques to improve our experience and relationship with food.
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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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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