Kick off 2022 with these 20 books recommended by Food Tank. Trace the history of corn in Helen Anne Curry’s Endangered Maize and discover the roots of modern conservation strategies. Or join the efforts to fight climate change from your kitchen with the plant-based recipes in Alejandra Schrader’s The Low-Carbon Cookbook & Action Plan. If you’re looking for more inspiration, try Everybody Eats: Communication and the Paths to Food Justice, to learn how residents of one mid-sized city in North Carolina mobilized to improve their local food system.
The 20 books on this list will help readers envision a more sustainable, resilient food system for the future.
1. AgriCultura: Urban Agriculture and the Heritage Potential of Agrarian Landscape, edited by Lionella Scazzosi & Paola Branduini.
Agricultura is an inspirational read for any stakeholder of the food system –– from local officials to farmers to citizens. With chapters that touch on urban gardening in Italy, Australia, Mexico, and more, these examples help to show how cultural heritage can be used to improve landscapes and quality of life in urban settings. And they argue for collective action on the local and global scale.
2. This Changes Everything: Capitalism VS the Climate, by Naomi Klein.
Listed as number five on the New York Times bestseller list and a finalist for the PEN America Literary Award, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything takes on the climate crisis. Klein makes an argument for why people must abandon a free market ideology, restructure the global economy, and rebuild political systems.
3. Endangered Maize: Industrial Agriculture and the Crisis of Extinction, by Helen Anne Curry.
In this book, historian Helen Anne Curry investigates the history of corn in Mexico and the United States to reveal a hidden narrative of how the crop shaped modern conservation strategies. Endangered Maize works to understand how cultural narratives shape science and advocates for new strategies to protect crop diversity.
4. Everybody Eats: Communication and the Paths to Food Justice, by Marianne LeGreco and Niesha Douglas.
Everybody Eats tells the story of Greensboro, North Carolina where in three years, the local food community lowered its food hardship rate by eight percent. An inspiring story told through eight case studies, this book shows that by engaging neighborhood voices, mobilizing creative resources, and sustaining conversations, communities can transform themselves.
5. Farming for Our Future: The Science, Law, and Policy of Climate-Neutral Agriculture, by Peter H. Lehner & Nathan A. Rosenberg.
This book examines specific policies and legal reforms that can help make the United States agricultural sector climate-neutral. In Farming for Our Future, Peter H. Lehner and Nathan A. Rosenberg demonstrate how farmers and ranchers can be part of the solution to the climate crisis and build a more resilient food system.
6. Feeding Istanbul: The Political Economy of Urban Provisioning, by Candan Turkkan.
Feeding Istanbul dives into the history of Istanbul, Turkey which was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Author Candan Turkkan examines how the city fed its people to argue that food politics and the politics of urban provisioning should be at the forefront of discussions about sovereignty.
Available online, this publication by ActionAid USA amplifies stories of grassroots movements in the United States and Canada that are fighting for agroecology and food sovereignty. Its featured stories highlight civil society groups including the Food Secure Canada, Southeastern African-American Farmers Organic Network, Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism, and more. Together, they demonstrate how through global coalitions, people can transform the food system.
8. Food 5.0: How We Feed the Future, by Robert Salk.
Food 5.0 examines the question of how to feed the world’s population. Author Robert Salk argues that technologies including sensors, robotics, and machine learning can help the farmers carrying the burden of growing the world’s food supply. Salk also hopes to inspire readers to support a food system that leverages new innovations.
9. Getting Something to Eat in Jackson, by Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr.
In Getting Something to Eat in Jackson, Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr. traces contemporary African American foodways – including the availability of food and access to food – in Jackson, Mississippi. Through this lens, he explores the interaction of race and class in the contemporary urban South and works to challenge the perception of a homogenous Black community in the U.S.
10. Local Food Systems and Community Economic Development, edited by R. David Lamie & Steven C. Deller.
Edited by two professors, R. David Lamie and Steven Deller, this book examines how food system development is perceived and discussed. The book addresses four arguments critical of the current food system, balancing each one with a counter-argument. Through this approach, Local Food Systems and Community Economic Development aims to strengthen the foundation for scholarly research and lead to a more sustainable food system.
The Low-Carbon Cookbook & Action Plan offers 140 plant-based recipes to help readers combat climate change from their kitchens. In this book, Alejandra Schrader discusses the carbon footprint of the food supply chain and encourages cooking with locally sourced ingredients. It also features a foreword by Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and Executive Chair of EAT Forum.
12. The Politics of Food Provisioning in Colombia, by Felipe Roa-Clavijo.
Felipe Roa-Clavijo delves into Colombia’s food system in the aftermath of the 2013-2014 national strikes. The Politics of Food Provisioning in Colombia uncovers the conflicts, politics, and socio-economic effects of food provisioning. And by analyzing the tension between the development of alternative agri-food systems working within domestic food markets, Felipe Roa-Clavijo works to reframe the debate around the future of food.
Author Andrew Deener offers a sociological and historical examination of the U.S. food system over the last century in The Problem with Feeding Cities. Denner profiles food bank employees, public health advocates, and more to argue that the food supply is more focused on profit margins. Ultimately, he argues, the country must rethink the way it eats.
14. Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, by Paul Hawken.
A New York Times bestseller, Regeneration offers a comprehensive guide to combating the climate crisis in one generation. The book addresses regenerative actions and policies to transform oceans, forests, and industries along with a checklist of steps readers can take to make their lifestyles greener. Together with the nonprofit Regeneration Organization, Hawken is also launching a series of initiatives including an online video series, curriculum, and podcasts to further guide global citizens looking to take action.
15. Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, by Yasmin Khan.
Through recipes, author of The Saffron Tales and Zaitoun, Yasmin Khan explores the significance of borders, identities, and migration in an interconnected world. Ripe Figs contains a variety of recipes that represent the nuances of the Mediterranean, including pomegranate and sumac chicken, candied pumpkin with tahini and date syrup, and zucchini and feta fritters.
16. The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live, by Danielle Dreilinger.
In The Secret History of Home Economics, journalist Danielle Dreilinger explores the evolution of home economics throughout history. Dreilinger concludes with recommendations to help revive the field including diversifying the profession, embracing life skills, and advancing the progressive, scientific, ecological view within home economics.
17. The $16 Taco, by Pascale Joassart-Marcelli.
Geographer Pascale Jossart-Marcelli follows three urban San Diego neighborhoods whose marginalized communities must please the tastes of white, wealthy newcomers. By exploring gentrification and emotional, cultural, economic, and physical displacement, Jossart-Marcelli demonstrates how food-related development can come at the expense of communities they claim to celebrate.
18. Tech to Table, by Richard Munso.
In Tech to Table, Richard Munso introduces readers to 25 innovations, including lab grown meat and 3-D printed pastries, designed to transform the food system. Munso believes there is an urgent need to rethink the food system. And he argues that entrepreneurship and disruptive technologies offer a new path to address the climate crisis, hunger, and obesity.
19. This is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan.
In his recent book, Michael Pollan explores three plant drugs: opium, caffeine, and mescaline. Through history, science, memoir, and participatory journalism, This is Your Mind on Plants shows how both licit and illicit drugs reflect humans’ needs and aspirations, their relationship with the natural world, and ways of thinking.
20. We are the Land: A History of Native California, by Damon B. Akins and William J. Bauer.
We Are the Land argues that California’s history and land were not shaped by Manifest Destiny, the Gold Rush, or colonial society, but by the region’s Indigenous peoples. The book examines Indigenous activism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and the struggles of statehood, genocide and land rights.
Photo courtesy of Brandi Redd, Unsplash
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