Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

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

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

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch