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Food Tank’s Summer 2014 Reading List – 18 Books For A Better Food System

FoodTankThis week, Food Tank has hand-picked 18 books that educate, inspire, and inform us—and make us look forward to cooking, eating, and sharing what we’ve learned. They highlight sustainable agriculture and farming practices around the world, and they give us ideas about how to eat healthier, safer, and more fairly produced food.

From Ava Chin’s Eating Wildlya journey into urban foraging, to The Arcadia Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook, which incorporates inexpensive staple foods with locally-grown and seasonal produce to create healthy and nutritious meals, they are all interesting, intriguing, and definitely worth a read this summer.

These books and reports teach us where our food comes from, how farming can both influence and mitigate climate change, and what we need to do to change our eating habits so that we can have can have a hand in alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty in our communities and across the globe.

Here are Food Tank’s 18 summer “must reads” for your tablet or bookshelf.

Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature by Jules Pretty

This book takes an in-depth look at the issues enveloped in the agriculture and food systems. Pretty emphasizes changing behaviors and reforming policies in order for an agricultural revolution to take place. He draws on stories of successful agricultural transformation in both developing and industrialized countries, calling on the next agricultural revolution.

Cooperative Farming: Frameworks for Farming Together by Faith Gilbert

Gilbert designed this 54-page guidebook through interviews with 42 start-up and established collaborative farm projects across North America. She gathered input from 18 professionals and advisors as well as 50 publications in cooperative development, farm business, finance, land access, and more. This book highlights processes that make collaborations effective and functional in order to provide mutual satisfaction and benefits.

Don’t Cook the Planet: Deliciously Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time by Emily Abrams

An 18-year-old activist from Massachusetts, Abrams’ new cookbook features 70 recipes shared by celebrity and all-star chefs, including actor, producer, and eco-activist Chevy Chase; MasterChef judge and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot; and Stephanie Izard, Top Chef star and executive chef at Girl & the Goat. This cookbook offers recipes and tips on how to minimize your carbon footprint. Abrams hope to impact her generation through this cookbook by featuring positive food choices.

Eating Wildly by Ava Chin

Follow Chin in this touching and informative memoir as she forages for food in New York City. Chin is an “urban forager” on the quest for eating better, healthier, and more sustainably, regardless of location. She takes the reader on an emotional journey—finding solace in parks and backyards, where she connects with rare and delicious edible plants. Her experiences in nature enliven taste buds and stir emotions.

Fields of Hope and Power by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé

“Fields of Hope and Power” is a chapter from the upcoming Navdanya book on agroecological movements, living democracy, and the limits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and industrial agriculture. This chapter takes an in-depth look at food scarcity and how agriculture and climate affect this issue. The Lappés investigate how the farmers at Navdanya have contributed to setting up the largest direct marketing fair trade organic network in India.

Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture by Christopher Rosin, Paul Stock, and Hugh Campbell

The authors provide a critical assessment of the global food system during the heightened food crisis and the problem of feeding a growing population. This book explores contraindications in policy and practice that hinder solutions to the food crisis. Case studies expose neoliberal policies involved with the production end of the food system, which provides insight into the current challenges for feeding the world. Rosin, Stock, and Campbell provide alternative strategies to create a more just and moral food system.

Foods for Health: Choose and Use the Very Best Foods for Your Family and Our Planet by Barton Seaver and P.K Newby

Seaver and Newby have created a science-based guide to healthy eating for the whole family, which features tips, food pairings, and sample menus. The authors take the reader on a culinary tour of 148 foods that have high nutritional value and the least environmental impact. This book teaches readers how to prepare healthy food and meals while making the best choices for their body and the planet.

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester R. Brown

Brown exposes the planet’s volatile food system with eroding soils, rising temperatures, and countries competing for land and water resources. He writes, “Food is the new oil.” Political uprise and food scarcity are concerning issues, which Brown addresses and for which he presents solutions.

Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras by Tanya M. Kerssen

This book explores the history of agribusiness and land conflicts in Northern Honduras. In the Aguan Valley, Honduran peasants battle large palm oil producers and fight for democratization of land, food, and political power. Kerssen shows how peasants in crime- and drug-laden communities are leading a strong and inspiring movement, with no signs of backing down.

In the Garden: A Botanically Illustrated Gardening Book by Sandra Lynn McPeake

Great for the coffee or kitchen table, this book includes basic growing information and detailed images of vegetable growth cycles from seedlings to the inside of veggies. McPeake provides gardening tips about supplies that growers will need and how to keep a gardening journal. Learn to share and grow with this illustrated guide.

Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America by Douglas Gayeton

A guide to more than 200 agriculture terms explained by experts in the field and complemented by stunning visuals, this book explores rebuilding local food movements. Gayeton traveled the United States, taking photos and learning from today’s top sustainability practitioners, to create this reference book.

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung

This book will make you stop and think about your eating habits and patterns. Buddhist monk Hanh and nutritional expert Dr. Cheung discuss how to become more aware and mindful of our bodies, drawing special attention to how we eat. This book explores the physical, emotional, psychological, and environmental factors which control our weight.

Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity by Barbara Burlingame and Sandro Dernini

This publication, by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), investigates the link between sustainable diets and biodiversity. It addresses the relationships among agriculture, health, environment, and food industries—indicating that the most sustainable diets have low environmental impacts. This text can be used as a reference for policy, research, and action.

Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox

This book is a collection of profiles, interviews, and essays that feature 60 innovative community-based projects around the globe in diverse climates. Birnbaum and Fox visited communities all around the world looking for ecological design systems. From urban gardeners to native seed-saving collectives to ecovillage developments, the common thread that weaves these thriving communities together is permaculture systems.

The Arcadia Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook by JuJu Harris

This cookbook incorporates Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) staples along with seasonal produce to create easy and delicious recipes. Harris, Arcadia Culinary Educator and Mobile Market Outreach Coordinator, wanted to create healthy and nutritious recipes around WIC provisions. What started out as a simple compilation of recipes has turned into a successful business venture. Harris plans to offer a Spanish version later this year.

The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock by Tony Weis

Weis discusses the “meatification” of human diets and the adverse impact it has on the earth and human health. Weis believes the conversion of grain and oilseed into meat is inefficient in a world striving to provide a basic diet to those chronically hungry. He explains why the growth and industrialization of livestock production is a central part of industrial capitalist agriculture.

The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber Coming Soon!

This book explores Barber’s vision for a new future of American eating. After a decade of research on farming communities throughout the world, Barber concludes America’s food needs a radical transformation to ensure the future of our health, food, and land. From his restaurant’s kitchen to farmers’ fields, Barber’s experiences led him to propose a “third plate”—a new pattern of eating rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm.

We the Eaters by Ellen Gustafson Coming Soon!

Gustafson explores how eaters and consumers can transform the global food system by changing what is on their dinner plates. The book investigates the global industrial food system using the classic American dinner as a template and provides actionable solutions to start ripple effects of change. The book’s manifesto is: If we change dinner, we change the world.

This post originally appeared on the Food Tank website.

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