Quantcast

Marion Nestle: 8 Books on Farming and Food That Deserve More Attention

Food

I'm overwhelmed by the avalanche of outstanding books that I run across or that get sent to me. But when forced to choose, I settle on these eight as some of the best writing and original research in the bunch. They deserve much more attention than they've received.

1. Food, Farms and Community: Exploring Food Systems by Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger

Many people don't understand what food systems are and it's very hard to explain, so this book is a terrific introduction. The authors take a big-picture approach to explain how our food gets from production to consumption. They also focus on how we can create food and farming systems that promote the health of people and planet. It's very readable.

2. The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World by Joel K. Bourne, Jr.

This book takes a look at industrial farming and discusses how food production must change to meet the world's demands. But if you think the title sounds depressing, you shouldn't. The food situation is so much better than it was 20 years ago. There's so much more organic, local and seasonal growing. Students are interested in these issues and that's inspiring to me. You can make progress without overturning the whole system. My personal measure is that when we started food studies at NYU in 1996, we were the only program like that in the country. Now every university offers food studies and has an organic garden.

3. From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone by Paul Thompson

Ethical dilemmas impact the way we shop for food. Should we buy organic or local? Should we care how farm animals are raised? For people who aren't trained in ethics, it's sometimes hard to think about these things and this book can help you delve into them.

4. Organic Struggle: The Movement for Sustainable Agriculture in the United States by Brian K. Obach

For me, the discussion of the development of the organic standards is the most interesting part of this book. It explains why it's so important to maintain strict organic standards and why there's such intense conflict about them. In fact, the biggest issue facing the organic industry is confidence in the standards.

5. Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry

Terry is an extraordinary cook. He's really concerned about the health of African Americans, who tend to have much higher levels of chronic disease, so he sets out to demonstrate that it's possible to cook a healthier, vegan diet using the ingredients of traditional African cuisine, like collards, grits and okra. I've never seen a book like this before.

6. Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America by Liz Carlisle

Carlisle is an incredible author (and Michael Pollan's protégé). To write the book, she simply went to talk to farmers in Montana to find out what they were doing. It's very lively. I attended her book tour and she actually brought the farmers with her—it was clear she was really passionate. Everyone is always talking about how farmers are failing, but this is a success story. It's inspiring.

7. Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression by Janet Poppendieck

I have special interest in this one—I wrote the foreword. The author is fabulous and this book is particularly well done. Anyone who wants to really understand the Farm Bill and the fight about food stamps needs to read this book. We're seeing enormous congressional fighting over SNAP right now and those same issues were there from the very beginning.

8. Lethal but Legal: Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health by Nick Freudenberg

This book is compelling because it draws out the parallels between food issues and things like cigarettes, guns and alcohol. Food producers use the same corporate strategies as these other industries to enrich themselves at the expense of public health. I believe advocacy is the only way to beat the system and Freudenberg writes about ways for organizing against corporate power to create a healthier environment, organize against corporate power for a healthier, more sustainable environment.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

'Mistaken' Release of Glyphosate Report Raises Questions Over EPA's Ties to Monsanto

Big Ag Forces Firing of Long-Time Farm News Cartoonist

Michael Pollan's 'Cooked': A Recipe for Change

Quaker Oats Accused of Being 'Deceptive and Misleading' After Glyphosate Detected in Oatmeal

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

American bison roaming Badlands National park, South Dakota. Prisma / Dukas / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Clay Bolt

On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Read More Show Less
An EPA sponsored cleanup of the toxic Gowanus Canal dredges a section of the canal of industrial debris on Oct. 28, 2016 in Brooklyn. The Gowanus is a Superfund site from years of industrial waste spilling into the water, and it is listed in GAO's report to be at risk from a climate disaster. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty Images

The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Rob Greenfield pictured above is driven by the concept of "living a life where [he] can wake up and feel good about [his] life." Rob Greenfield / Facebook

For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.

Read More Show Less
Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store. VioletaStoimenova / E+ / Getty Images

Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, the company announced on Friday. The removal of the apps comes after thousands of people across the country have developed lung illnesses from vaping and 42 people have died.

Read More Show Less