Food Tank’s Winter 2020 Recommended Food Book Reading List – Food Tank

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Contributing Author: Jason Flatt

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere may be cold, but Food Tank is here with a list of 21 books to reignite hope for the future of the food system around the globe.

Readers who explore these titles can feel uplifted by the stories of farmers, doctors, researchers, and activists from around the world working to confront challenges in food and agriculture—and explore how to solve them. These 21 books provide examples of hope for the future of the food system.

1. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Sustainable Food Systems edited by Riccardo Valentini, John Sievenpiper, Marta Antonelli, and Katarzyna Dembska

In 2015, the United Nations established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a set of 17 goals for transforming the world by 2030. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Sustainable Food Systems gathers articles by researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who are applying the SDGs to the future of the global food system. The book describes how to achieve sustainable practices in the face of factors like climate change and migration. The assortment of articles collectivizes a diversity of voices that aim to empower every reader to make sustainable choices on any scale.

2. Bite Back: People Taking On Corporate Food and Winning edited by Saru Jayaraman and Kathryn De Master, foreword by Marion Nestle (forthcoming May 2020)

Bite Back highlights how visionaries and organizers are challenging the status quo in food and agriculture. Divided into pairs, each first chapter outlines a problem arising from corporate control of the food system, while each second chapter describes the movements working to resolve the problem. Experts and activists come together in this book to point readers towards solutions for some of the toughest challenges in the food system with calls to action for corporate responsibility.

3. Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire: Puerto Rican Workers on U.S. Farms by Ismael García-Colón (forthcoming February 2020)

Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire tells the stories of the people who came from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States for work and Latinized the farm labor force. García-Colón explores how Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers in the twentieth century endured racism and discrimination—and eventually became subject to The Farm Labor Program of 1947. The book portrays the violence, fieldwork, food, and deception that the workers faced—and how they surmounted their challenges to settle in rural United States communities.

4. Cooking with Everything by Winnow (forthcoming)

According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) more than one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste each year. This amounts to 1.3 billion metric tons, or US$1 trillion worth of food. To combat food waste, the UAE partnered with Winnow, a company that designs software to help kitchens minimize food waste, to write Cooking with Everything. This cookbook is designed with professional chefs in mind—it is filled with recipes that utilize food that would otherwise go to waste in their kitchens, such as leftover scraps. People from around the world are encouraged to submit their own recipes and the best will be included in the book.

5. Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want by Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen

Moore Lappé of the Small Planet Institute and Eichen join for Daring Democracy, a book for those losing faith in democracy. Lappé and Eichen use uplifting storytelling and powerful facts to show that no matter how voiceless the reader feels, they have the ability to recapture economic and political power. Daring Democracy challenges its readers to stand up and protect their democracy. The book offers solutions that anybody can strive towards, especially if they band together with their fellow Americans.

6. Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet—One Bite at a Time by Mark Hyman (forthcoming February 25, 2020)

 Dr. Hyman’s upcoming book, Food Fix, starts with one idea: food is the most powerful medicine of all. Food Fix examines the relationship between the way people treat their bodies and the way they treat the planet. The zenith of Americans’ unhealthy relationships with both ends of the food system is corporate greed, according to Hyman. The book provides solutions that will make our bodies and our planet healthier.

7. Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities by Gary Paul Nebhan

Nebhan’s dedicates his life and work to biocultural conservation; and in Food from the Radical Center, Nebhan shares the stories of people across the U.S. with the same dedication. The book revels in the communities working to restore native plants and animals, including bison, turkeys, and ancient grains. For Nebhan, this conservation work is about more than just the species being protected—it is about restoring divided communities. Throughout the book, Nebhan shows that the power of food and restoration projects can even forge relationships between people who disagree with one another.

8. Fruteros: Street Vending, Illegality, and Ethnic Community in Los Angeles by Rocío Rosales (forthcoming May 2020)

Rosales’s Fruteros follows a community built around selling food from pushcarts. According to Rosales, laws—and their communities—prohibit the work and presence of young Latino street vendors. Rosales explains, through the lives and challenges of the fruit vendors, that camaraderie is not necessarily abundant in all immigrant communities in the U.S. Fruteros navigates the highs and the lows of the street vending community in Los Angeles, while complicating the notion that social networks are always tools for survival.

9. Grassroots Rising by Ronnie Cummings (forthcoming February 4, 2020)

Cummings offers a guide for building grassroots movements and practical solutions for supporting society. Grassroots Rising demonstrates how consumers can take back the food system’s reins, inspired by the proposed Green New Deal and the Sunrise Movement. Cummings shows that organized efforts to increase regenerative agriculture use, carbon sequestering, and renewable energy production may help achieve an ethical, sustainable, and just food system.

10. Harvesting Prosperity: Technology and Productivity Growth in Agriculture edited by Keith Fuglie

The World Bank Productivity Project believes that increasing small-scale farming in rural areas of developing countries is the key to reducing global, improving food security, and protecting the environment. In its free publication Harvesting Prosperity, experts discuss the importance of developing and spreading new, more productive farming practices and technologies. The publication also provides policy recommendations the World Bank believes address the barriers that prevent poor farmers from accessing and adopting these technologies.

11. Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it All with The Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier

Hungry follows René Redzepi: an eclectic, adventure-seeking master of the culinary arts and chef of Noma. Over the four-year journey, Gordinier describes Redzepi’s hunger for culinary innovation and connection to the planet. Visiting jungles, oceans, cities, and even the Arctic Circle, Redzepi brings Gordinier around the world to meet his friends and collaborators and dive into a groundbreaking culinary adventure.

12. Sugarcane and Rum: The Bittersweet History of Labor and Life on the Yucatán Peninsula by John Robert Gust and Jennifer P. Mathews (forthcoming April 21, 2020)

When most people think of rum, they think of the Caribbean—but Maya laborers of the Yucatán have their own story tell about of sugarcane and rum. Gust and Mathews help tell this story as it stretches from the nineteenth century until today. Sugarcane and Rum is a lamentation of the traditional Maya culture that was upended by the rum industry, just as well as it is about how people have shaped their lives today as a result.

13. The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography by Brian R. Dott (forthcoming May 2020)

The Chile Pepper in China explores how the food became so ubiquitous in Chinese cuisines, culture, and even politics. In The Chile Pepper in China, Dott helps display the role and significance of the chile pepper China over many centuries. Dott writes about how everything in China, from art to gender expression and medicine has been influenced by chile peppers. Dott also discusses this all with reverence to the fact that chile peppers are not native to China.

14. Northern Harvest: Twenty Michigan Women in Food and Farming by Emita Brady Hill (forthcoming May 2020)

Northern Harvest highlights 20 women who have revolutionized food in northern Michigan. Hill compiles the stories of women who make lives and livings from food as cooks, bakers, chefs, and farmers—and even includes their recipes. In the book, Hill also covers major innovative and transitional periods in the work of these women—like taking on organic practices, facing challenges from the northern climate, and making exclusive use of fair trade products in their business. Hill weaves these stories together to display the full breadth of Northern Michigan’s food, drink, and agricultural landscape.

15. “Organic Food Systems: Meeting the Needs of Southern Africa” edited by Raymond Auerbach

The financial viability of the organic farming sector is increasing, shows “Organic Food Systems.” Auerbach of Nelson Mandela University edits and compiles research on organic farming in Southern Africa in Organic Food Systems, a freely available open-access e-book. The cases in the volume explore how organic farmers could grow the same amount of food as conventional farmers but with added climate change resilience and scalability.

16. Protecting Pollinators: How to Save the Creatures that Feed Our World by Jodi Helmer 

Protecting Pollinators claims that half of the world’s 200,000 pollinator species are threatened, but author Helmer will not let that discourage her. This book draws on scientific understanding and lessons gleaned from past failures to present a way forward for pollinators. Protecting Pollinators shares some of the ways large-scale efforts are protecting at-risk species alongside ways that everybody can help support their local pollinators.

17. Rainforests: Dispatches From Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines by Tony Juniper

Tony Juniper is a longtime rainforest conservationist who refuses to let the tragedies of deforestation and climate change keep him from remaining optimistic. Rainforests is a deep foray into the world’s rainforests and the life they support around the globe. The book shows how saving the rainforest is about saving more than just the rainforest – it is about saving all of the ecosystems made possible by their rains.

18. Uncertain Harvest: The Future of Food on a Warming Planet by Ian Mosby, Sarah Rotz, and Evan D.G. Fraser (forthcoming May 2020)

Uncertain Harvest shares voices from across the food system representing scientists, chefs, activists, entrepreneurs, farmers, philosophers, and engineers. Through the guidance of these innovators, the book digests research on key ingredients to find how to attain a more equitable, safe, and sustainable future for food. The book investigates eight foods in particular that the authors think have the power to revolutionize the global food system: algae, caribou, kale, millet, tuna, crickets, milk, and rice.

19. Wildcrafted Fermentation: Exploring, Transforming, and Preserving the Wild Flavors of Your Local Terroir by Pascal Baudar (forthcoming March 2020)

Bauder’s Wildcrafted Fermentation makes fermentation and preservation easy and approachable. Step-by-step photos guide the reader through how to transform ingredients from their own local environment or garden into delicious sauerkrauts, sauces, pastes, and more. The book also seeks to connect readers more deeply to not only their food, but biodiverse edible plants and nature. There is a whole world of edible plants around us according to Wildcrafted Fermentation—all that is left is to learn how to use it.

20. Women in Rural Production Systems: The Indian Experience edited by V. K. Ramachandran, Madhura Swaminathan, and Shruti Nagbhushan

Women in Rural Production Systems compiles the stories of women in rural India from the colonial era to today. In four sections, the book explores not only women’s employment in agriculture and evidence of women’s impact in food, but also the methodological issues with truly understanding women’s work across the world. The articles in this volume exemplify the pivotal role of women in food and farming, whether women are working in the field or in other, non-farming roles.

21. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever (forthcoming October 2020)

The late Anthony Bourdain re-energized food journalism and innovation with an astounding ability to share his love for travel and food with others. His final work, World Travel, coauthored by his longtime assistant Laurie Woolever, is a journey to some of Bourdain’s favorite places. The travel guide covers everything from his hometown—New York— to unique locations in Argentina, France, Tanzania, and Oman. The book also includes essays and illustrations from people whose lives Bourdain touched and provides context that will help readers appreciate Boudain’s work throughout his life.

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