Food Tank has compiled 17 books to educate, inform, and inspire us this season. Whether you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of modern, sustainable agriculture or searching for a new hobby—like making cheese with no dairy—these books about food, agriculture, and sustainability offer something for everyone. Including both seasoned and new authors, writing about health, food, the environment, and the intersection of all three, we hope you find inspiration this Spring through these 17 reads.
1. Women in Agriculture: Professionalizing Rural Life in North America and Europe, 1880–1965, edited by Linda M. Ambrose and Joan M. Jensen
Studies of women in rural life, agriculture, and the home are fairly extensive, but the role of women in other agricultural roles has been examined less. This series of essays explores the role of women as agricultural researchers, producers, marketers, educators, and community organizers in North America and Europe and the expertise they have contributed to rural life and modern agriculture.
2. The President’s Kitchen Cabinet, by Adrian Miller
African-American culinary traditions have significantly influenced American food culture at its roots. In the past few centuries, soul food has pervaded more than the kitchens of American households and restaurants. It has left its mark on one of the most vital kitchens in the country—the White House. This book compiles the stories of more than 100 black men and women who served and fed our nation’s presidents.
3. Building the Agricultural City, by Robert Wolf
Wolf offers a plan for the future of rural economies based on the concept of regionalism, in which widespread, isolated communities become large cities, or agricultural cities. He implores rural communities to decentralize the wealth, work cooperatively to rebuild their economies, and move toward a stronger future.
4. Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty, by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong
With the new cookbook from Noma chef Mads Refslund, otherwise wasted foods—such as the presumably inedible parts of vegetables or stale and wilted foods—transform into impressive dishes. Overripe fruit becomes sweet glazes for meat dishes. Vegetable leaves and stalks become the savory bases of soups and sauces. Refslund’s tips and recipes enforce a new respect for the foods we exploit in our kitchens.
5. Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health, by Emily Monosson
The chemicals we have relied on for more than a century to keep our crops clean and healthy are no longer living up to their job. Diseases are outsmarting our defenses. Fortunately, Monosson offers a positive outlook on the future of plant protection and our subsequent health benefits with innovative scientific advancements that look to germs and bugs to work with nature instead of fighting against it.
6. The Food Lover’s Garden: Growing Cooking and Eating Well, by Jenni Blackmore
Whether you’re working with a small backyard plot or a few pots on your balcony, The Food Lover’s Garden will offer what you need to get started growing your own food. This guidebook/cookbook has the essentials for those who have a piqued interest in gardening but are not sure where to start. Blackmore then takes you beyond the growing phase with recipes for cooking, as well as preserving, the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.
7. The Tropical Oil Crop Revolution, by Roz Naylor
This information-packed book provides an outlook for an industry on the cusp of change. The oil crop revolution is gaining momentum and with it, the power to influence the food we eat, feed for our animals, the landscape, biofuels, and the economy. The industry’s biggest stakeholders and harshest critics aren’t the only ones to chime in on its impact. The Tropical Oil Crop Revolution analyzes the major costs versus benefits while exploring the sustainable options that could balance out its future.
8. The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking, by Karen McAthy
Who says a more ethical and healthy diet can’t include cheese? Whether you’re cutting back on dairy-based products or simply looking to try something new, the world of plant-based cheeses offers the same creamy texture from a new perspective. McAthy, an expert plant-based cheesemaker, shares her experience in unfolding new wonders for dairy-free cheese-lovers.
9. A Conversation about Healthy Eating, (forthcoming July 2017) by Nicholas A. Lesica
In A Conversation about Healthy Eating, Lesica’s highly scientific approach looks at what hasn’t worked in the past and why, and how we can better understand for ourselves the principles behind a healthy diet. So what is the secret, exactly? Lesica finds that it’s about avoiding processed foods as much as possible, and in the book, he provides lifestyle changes that can help you do just that.
10. Compact Farms, by Josh Volk
Amateur farmers and gardeners looking to turn their small farm into a business will find inspiration in the stories of 15 farms profiled in this book. The farms serve as guides for every step involved in building a farm enterprise—on five acres or less.
11. Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Our Edible World, by Julia Rothman
Food and food culture across the globe comes to life in this vividly illustrated book. Julia Rothman’s distinctive work makes learning about cheese slicing and challah braiding, among other things, interactive and engaging.
12. Sustainable Diets: How Ecological Nutrition Can Transform Consumption and the Food System, (forthcoming March 2017) by Pamela Mason and Tim Lang
This book is a comprehensive look at the sustainable diets, as opposed to the unsustainable diets that currently are heavily impacting the plant. The authors look at both nutrition and public health to understand what a sustainable diet actually entails and how we can shift to these diets in a way that still allows billions of people access to food.
13. The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife, (forthcoming April 2017) by Nancy Lawson
Lawson wants backyard gardeners to create a symbiotic relationship with the creatures and critters that need the natural habitats to survive. Through her book and an outreach initiative of the same name, she teaches readers how to grow inviting spaces for wildlife to prosper, from the best butterfly bushes and flowers for pollinators to techniques for living in harmony with animals otherwise thought of as pests.
14. The Permaculture Promise, by Jono Neiger
Looking for a beginner’s guide to permaculture? The Permaculture Promise explains the concept’s main practices from gardening and housing to transportation, energy, and how we structure our communities. Through 22 profiles of people and communities, Neiger demonstrates the ways that anyone can incorporate permaculture practices in their daily lives in order to contribute to a more sustainable world.
15. Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels, (forthcoming April 2017) by Abbie Gascho Landis
Step into the secret world of freshwater mussels, an unassuming creature of great value to the world’s waterways. Landis, a veterinarian, takes readers to the riverbeds and streams of the southeastern United States, where her own fascination began, in order to introduce them to a small piece of the delicate ecosystems we rely on.
16. Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip, by Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller
Ever wonder what defines Canadian food culture? Two friends wanted to find out, so they took off on a road-trip from one edge of the Great White North to the other in pursuit of the curiosities of Canadian gastronomic traditions. Along the way, they tell the stories of the characters they meet from chefs to farmers and First Nation elders. By the end, you’ll be licking your lips and searching for a ticket north.
The bananas we eat today come from what modern scientists standardized in the 1960s from dozens into one basic banana, generally the same size, shape, and taste. Never Out of Season outlines how streamlining our crops—breeding the hardiest, best tasting varieties to be seemingly never out of season—has left our food supply without diversity and dangerously susceptible to nature’s pathogens.