There are some books that can change a person's life. This may seem melodramatic, but it's true. When you turn to a book because the subject or the cover peaked your interest, you never quite know where it will take you, or who you will be at the end of it. That is the magic of reading!
We wanted to offer a summary of some of the most life-changing, mind-blowing, food-forward books we've ever come across. Hopefully your journey into the world of food consumption is as edifying as ours has been!
Michael Pollan's Cooked
This inspiring, quick-witted and altogether joyous book takes a closer look at the ways in which we have traditionally transformed raw materials (i.e.: food) into culturally-rich cuisines throughout our history.
This book also dives into the not-so-traditional (and not-so-healthy) methods the food industry utilizes in transforming these same raw ingredients into commodities.
Topics include: the cultural implications of barbecue, the nurturing of a loaf of bread, the anti-elitism of braising and the hidden politics of fermentation.
Thomas Pawlick's The End of Food
Experienced science journalist, Thomas Pawlick takes a microscopic delve into the effects the modern food system has on what we eat.
The End of Food takes apart the modern food commodity, nutrient-by-nutrient, and compares it to its pre-industrial counterpart.
This piece is rich in detail without being dull or long-winded. If you're looking for a well-researched, easy-to-read, facts- and figures-focused book - look no further!
Topics: the dearth of plant diversity in modern food; seeding is believing!
Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food
Can you tell that's we're big fans of Michael Pollan?
In Defence of Food is essentially an argument against the tenets of "nutritionism", the preeminent food philosophy of our post-industrial age.
While nutritionism attempts to break down food to its nutrient parts, In Defence of Food argues that the food we eat has always been so much greater than the sum of its parts. Eating well is not the same as counting calories, grams of protein or dousing ourselves in supplements. A healthy diet is not a diet at all - it's a cuisine, imbued with artistry and determined by culture.
Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma
Yup, BIG fans!
The Omnivore's Dilemma is arguably Pollan's most complete and comprehensive work to date. This beautifully written opus celebrates the role food has played in human history, while exhaustively delving into the myriad dangers of modern industrial agriculture.
The Omnivore's Dilemma proposes a new food ethic for America and beyond.
Topics: industrial food, organic food, foraged food, why simply choosing what to eat has become such a complex and overwhelming process.
Paul Roberts' The End of Food
Don't worry, you're not seeing double. If Thomas Pawlick's The End of Food is a magazine feature on the food industry, than Paul Roberts' book with the same name is the manual.
This in-depth exploration is remarkably well-researched. While more demanding of the reader than Pawlick, it may also be more rewarding to those who are more than just slightly interested in the modern food system.
Topics: how food is made, marketed & transported; why more, cheaper and faster food does not actually equate to more accessible and nutritionally-rich food.
Gene Logsdon's Living At Nature's Pace: Farming & the American Dream
Are you perhaps looking for a book to read on quiet summer afternoons, with a cold glass of lemonade sweating in your hand? Well, then you've found your dream read! At Nature's Pace is a collection of essays on the state of farming today, and
The late Gene Logsdon is a hallmark of the alternative agriculture field, with a prolific body of work that ranges in topics from aquaculture to manure. Logsdon's approach is a nostalgic retrospective on the way things used to - and should - be grown.
Topics: small-scale farming, species diversity, agribusiness fallacies & Amish farming methods
Wendell Berry's Bringing It to the Table: On Farming & Food
Wendell Berry is Gene Logsdon with sharper teeth. Berry's Bringing It To the Table looks at all angles of the modern food conundrum, including the inner workings (and dicey politics) of American agricultural colleges.
This collection of essays is an eye-opening exploration of how "eating is an agricultural act." (Wendell Berry)
Topics: the difference between large- and small-scale farming operations, how modern industrial agriculture has disenfranchised traditional - and sustainable - food production, the importance of "slow food"
Steve Ettlinger's Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined) and Manipulated Into What America Eats
Similar to Thomas Pawlick's The End of Food, Ettlinger's odyssey into the chemical makeup of a single Twinkie opens the door to the inner workings of modern "food".
Lighthearted, personable and easy to read, Twinkie, Deconstructed is the perfect no-pressure summer read.
Topics: the ways in which modern food is more closely related to petroleum and rocks than any of the four food groups. Yeesh 😬
We would love to hear from you! Do you have any book recommendations for us?