Food Tank’s Summer 2022 Reading List is here! You will find topics ranging from sustainability and agroecology to food history and social justice. These 20 books about food highlight the perspectives of award-winning chefs, acclaimed authors, and food fanatics alike as they educate their audiences on the ever-evolving food system.
Here are 20 books that offer insight into food’s captivating past, complex present, and promising future.
1. An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity by Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen (Forthcoming, September 2022)
According to Wes Jackson, co-founder of the Land Institute, and Professor Robert Jensen, the root of our ecological turmoil lies in consumption patterns. In this analysis, they trace today’s systemic shortcomings back to their origins. In understanding our past, Jackson and Jensen believe humanity can follow a more practical path to the future.
With a foreword by World Food Prize and Right Livelihood Award laureate Dr. Hans Herren, Dr. Vandana Shiva provides a detailed account of pragmatic and proven methods of building a more sustainable food system. Drawing from decades’ worth of research and practice, Dr. Shiva endorses practical solutions to our growing ecological, health, and agricultural crises. Among these solutions are regenerative farming, water conservation, climate change resilience, and increasing food security.
3. Brewing Sustainability in the Coffee and Tea Industries by Alissa Bilfield
Alissa Bilfield provides an optimistic outlook on sustainable coffee and tea production in Brewing Sustainability. In her new book, author Alissa Bilfield explores coffee and tea farmers promoting environmentally friendly practices and what it takes to democratize value chains. Case studies from fair trade cooperatives reveal the mechanics of a more socially conscious and environmentally sustainable brewing future.
4. Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America by Yong Chen
In Chop Suey, Professor Yong Chen, Ph.D., chronicles the rise of Chinese food in America during the 20th century. Chop Suey considers racist immigration policies, the importance of home delivery, and the economic opportunities provided by the restaurant industry. Through his analysis, Chen shows how, over time, disenfranchised immigrants transformed their dishes into the popular cuisine it is today.
Science and technology have elevated food from a mere matter of survival to a work of art. From the birth of agriculture to modern technology, author and food scientist Guy Crosby surveys the history of cooking. Cook, Taste, and Learn emphasizes cooking in a way that promotes health and includes recipes that speak to this mission.
6. Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America by Psyche A. Williams-Forson
Psyche A. Williams-Forson explores the relationship between food, culture, and race in the U.S. in her latest book, Eating While Black. The discourse analyzes how mass media, policy, nutrition, and economics converge to create false narratives of eating habits among Black Americans. Williams-Forson shows how culture — including food — is central to the fight for Black peoples to obtain access and equity.
7. Food Security: From Excess to Enough by Ralph C. Martin
Agriculture professor and sustainable food advocate Ralph C. Martin illuminates the toll modern industrial agriculture takes on our health and our environment. Some of the most pressing problems include soil depletion, diet-related chronic illness, and food waste. In order to build a more food conscious culture, Martin prescribes a shift in mentality from that of excess to that of enough.
8. Frontline Farmers: How the National Farmers Union Resists Agribusiness and Creates Our New Food Future edited by Annette Aurélie Desmarais
The National Farmers Union represents the voices of farmers, fishers, and ranchers across the United States. Frontline Farmers focuses the spotlight on Canada’s National Farmers Union (NFU) and their movement. The book gives NFU members a platform to share their decades-long fight for a more progressive and sustainable farming system.
9. Gastronativism: Food, Identity, Politics by Fabio Parasecoli
In his forthcoming book, Professor of Food Studies Fabio Parasecoli unpacks food’s place in identity and political ideology. Parasecoli’s career, which has taken him around the world, informs his concept of gastronativism: how food is wielded as a political tool to ostracize people and their cuisine when it threatens native identity. He also identifies ways that people can use their pride in culinary traditions to uplift their communities.
10. Growing Gardens, Building Power: Food Justice and Urban Agriculture in Brooklyn by Justin Sean Myers
In Growing Gardens, Building Power, Professor Justin Sean Myers delves into the origins of food inequity and the politics of food justice. To do so, he follows East New York Farms! (ENYF!) as they fight to deliver food justice to marginalized communities in Brooklyn, New York. Myers touches on the inequalities residents face, the potential of community gardens, and the challenges ENYF! has overcome.
11. How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America by Priya Fielding-Singh, PhD
Following the lives of four families from different demographics, Priya Fielding-Singh, PhD, depicts how dietary choices and their ensuing health effects vary vastly across racial and socioeconomic strata. Coupling these intimate accounts with insightful research, How the Other Half Eats renders a compelling portrait of how inequality manifests in food.
12. How to Sell a Poison: The Rise, Fall, and Toxic Return of DDT by Elena Conis
As the first modern synthetic insecticide, DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was notorious for its effects on human and environmental health. Historian Elena Conis follows this controversial chemical compound’s history from corporate interests and disinformation campaigns to the environmental movement that led to this toxic substance’s ban in 1972.
13. Koshersoul by Michael Twitty
Historian, chef, and award-winning author Michael Twitty examines the culinary crossroads of African American and Jewish traditions. Using his experience converting to Judaism and his family’s legacy of enslavement, Twitty navigates his own sense of belonging through the food that feeds both his body and soul. The book also includes around 50 recipes that celebrate his cultural diversity.
In her debut book, award-winning journalist Jori Lewis unearths the peanut’s unsavory history. Drawing from scrupulous research of West African and European archives, Lewis demonstrates how peanut cultivation and the demand for peanut oil perpetuated forced labor in Africa into the 20th century. Readers will meet missionaries, peanut growers, slave traders, and other characters who played an integral role in shaping the history of the peanut crop.
15. Slow Cooked: An Unexpected Life in Food Politics by Marion Nestle (Forthcoming, October 2022)
Food politics champion and public health advocate Marion Nestle, Ph.D., recounts her career’s trajectory in her forthcoming memoir, Slow Cooked. Reflecting on her journey from lab technician to stay-at-home mom to award winning academic, Nestle opens up about how she overcame obstacles to become one of the leading voices in food politics.
16. Sustainable Food Production: An Earth Institute Sustainability Primer by Shahid Naeem, Suzanne Lipton, and Tiff van Huysen
Sustainable Food Production introduces readers to the central issues created by industrial agriculture. The authors’ approach is guided by principles of environmental sustainability and social justice. This book lays an accessible foundation for those who wish to learn more about farming and food systems.
17. The Cookbook in Support of the United Nations compiled under the direction of Earlene Cruz
The Cookbook in Support of the United Nations enlists a variety of voices to bring international, planet-friendly meals to anyone’s table. The book features 75 accessible recipes from chefs, farmers, and activists, and more. Each recipe also includes details about the dish’s nutrition profile and carbon footprint, helping consumers cook and eat with human and planetary health in mind.
18. The Restaurant: a 2,000 Year History of Dining Out by William Sitwell
Food critic and writer William Sitwell follows the evolution of restaurant dining in this entertaining book. From Ancient Roman inns to Medieval taverns to modern day innovations, this survey provides readers with a new perspective on the history of the restaurant and dining industry. Sitwell also digs into the trends and dining establishments that have shaped eaters’ relationship with food and society at large.
19. The Terroir of Whiskey: A Distiller’s Journey Into the Flavor of Place by Rob Arnold
While terroir is a concept more familiar to the wine world, master distiller Rob Arnold argues that terroir can be found in whiskey. In visiting innovative distilleries in the U.S. and abroad, Arnold demonstrates how microclimate, soil, and topography can indeed influence the taste of whiskey.
20. Translating Food Sovereignty: Cultivating Justice in an Age of Transnational Governance by Matthew C. Canfield
Cultural anthropologist Matthew C. Canfield explores the world of food sovereignty as claimed by transnational activists in his new ethnography. Translating Food Sovereignty tells the nuanced story of how social movements are using networked forms of governance to expand their agenda.
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