20 food-focused must read books for this spring

20 food-focused must read books for this spring


Danielle Nierenberg
Food Tank has selected 20 books that will inspire and inform readers on topics ranging from food justice to urban composting to local food systems. These books highlight the important authors and change-makers whose creativity and innovation are helping to improve the food system. Food Tank hopes that these books will educate people around the world to become more involved in the food movement as well as spread the word about exciting changes to the food system.
Please also check out our previous reading lists: Winter 2016, Fall 2015, Summer 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Summer 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2013, and 15 Books for Future Foodies.
Adventures in Urban Bike Farming by Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume

Described as equal parts historical document, confessional memoir, and social critique, this book chronicles Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume’s experience as an urban farmer in Portland, Oregon through the early 2000s. Mainly, it tells the story of Sunroot Gardens, a bicycle-based urban farming business, founded by the author in 2007. As Sonnenblume explains, this is not your typical, “Rah rah, look how sustainable we are” story, but it is full of lessons for those interested in using urban farming to address current environmental and social challenges.
Beyond the Tragedy in Global Fisheries (Politics, Science, and the Environment) by D.G. Webster
Webster examines how fisheries are evolving both politically and economically around the globe. Webster traces population growth and economic development patterns related to fisheries, and concludes that sustainable fisheries can only exist within a sustainable economic system.
Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi
Drawing on interviews with many different food professionals, Sethi explores the historical and cultural importance of food and the growing threat of homogenization in the food system. Only thirty species provide nearly all of the world’s calories today. Sethi assesses the reasons for this loss in diversity and the extensive effect it has on our health, traditions, and culture. From Ethiopian coffee forests to British yeast culture labs, the book takes readers on a page-turning exploration of the intimate relationship that exists between our food choices and sustained cultural and biological diversity.
Emerging Technologies for Promoting Food Security: Overcoming the World Food Crisis (Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition) by Chandra Madramootoo
This book provides a thorough assessment of the factors that influence global food insecurity, including rising energy prices, water scarcity, increased biofuel use, and expanding populations. Additionally, it assesses innovative, emerging, and traditional food production techniques that promote global food security, as well as genetic and aquaculture technologies, pest and disease control, the reduction of post-harvest waste, and the public policy issues involved in world hunger.
The End of Plenty: The Race To Feed A Crowded World by Joel K. Bourne Jr.
Written by an environmental journalist, this book examines the future of food, feeding the world, and climate change, while introducing readers to food renegades, activists, and visionaries around the world. Both a comprehensive assessment of the future of food and a call to action, Bourne inspires his audience to join the next generation of farmers and scientists as they work creatively, quickly, and sustainably, in the midst of erratic weather patterns, to increase global food supplies.
First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson
Author Bee Wilson takes readers around the globe in an exploration of how humans learn what, when, and how much to eat. Drawing on research from food psychologists, neuroscientists, and nutritionists, this book explores how culture, family, gender, memory, hunger, and love shape eating behaviors. With the goal of identifying how and why our relationship to food has gone awry, Wilson introduces readers to picky eaters, prisoners of war with a deep yearning for a home-cooked meal, and researchers that have developed new tactics for getting kids to eat more vegetables. Along the way, First Bite shows how a change in diet can create healthier, happier lives.
Food Wars: The Global Battle for Mouths, Minds, and Markets by Tim Lang and Michael Heasman
Much has happened in the world of food policy since 2003 when the first edition of Food Wars was published. The updated version gives increased attention to current food issues, including nutrition, obesity, food security, food prices, and market power. In addition to reiterating the importance of integrating human and environmental health, the authors offer ideas about the future of the global food system.
Gardening with Less Water: Low-Tech, Low-Cost Techniques; Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden by David A. Bainbridge
An exploration of how to minimize water usage in gardening, this book offers easy and inexpensive techniques for keeping plots, pots, and beds hydrated. By minimizing evaporation and delivering water directly to the plant’s roots, Bainbridge shows how gardeners can use up to 90 percent less water to yield the same results. His low-tech solutions – inspired by traditional techniques, proven by modern research – offer guidance for gardeners and small-scale farmers facing a period of water shortage or looking to operate more efficiently.
Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country by Courtney White; Foreword by Michael Pollan
In this book, Courtney White defends the plausibility and importance of pulling increasing amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely in soil. In addition to highlighting innovative soil management techniques already employed on farms and ranches around the world, the author articulates how smart land use could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide benefits to all living things.
Growing Livelihoods: Local Food Systems and Community Development (Earthscan Tools for Community Planning) by Rhonda Phillips and Chris Wharton
Evaluating the potential benefits of intertwining city planning and local food systems, Phillips and Wharton offer ideas on how local food systems can positively impact communities to increase nutritional offerings and stimulate economic development. Through highlighting six innovative food systems from across North America, the authors inspire and offer advice to readers interested in reforming their own local food system.
Hamburgers in Paradise: The Stories Behind the Food We Eat by Louise O. Fresco
In this book, Fresco utilizes decades of research to tell the story behind each meal that is eaten. With a focus on topics like surplus, obesity, poverty, and climate change, the author examines how food is produced and consumed, and how we can look to human and agricultural history to create a food system that will provide in the future.
The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by Dr. David Montgomery
Investigating the relationship between plant roots and the human gut, Dr. Montgomery focuses on the value of microbes and how they could potentially change the future of agriculture and medicine. In this book, Dr. Montgomery tells the story of revitalizing the dirt in his backyard with organic matter and how his cancer diagnosis led him to discover that humans are the “product of what our microbes eat.”
Just Food: Philosophy, Justice and Food by J. M. Dieterle
A compilation of thirteen philosophical essays, this book critically examines the causes and consequences of our inequitable food system. The rich dialogue on race, the gendered aspects of food inequality, food sovereignty, the relationship between food and property, and the local food movement both examines and contributes ethical considerations to the food justice movement.
Organic Cooking on a Budget: How to Grow Organic, Buy Local, Waste Nothing, and Eat Well by Arabella Forge
In this hands-on, practical advice-giving book, Forge teaches how to eat well and eat frugally. Through techniques such as building a composter and chicken coop, learning how to efficiently stock a pantry, and discovering local food resources, the reader will learn how to form a better, less wasteful relationship with food.
The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the Twenty-First Century by David Rieff
Based on six years of research, Reiff looks at whether or not ending extreme poverty and hunger is possible in the future. Rather than accepting current hunger eradication strategies at face value, the author provides a careful and critical analysis of all sides of the debate. Drawing on his extensive knowledge in international development and aid, Reiff provides readers with a realistic assessment of our ability to solve the global food crisis, and questions if any one effort can do it alone.
SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well-Being (Studies in Social Inequality) by Judith Bartfeld, Craig Gundersen, Timothy Smeeding and James Ziliak
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been in effect for over 50 years, yet there is a lack of research into its benefits, challenges, and overall effectiveness. This book brings together top scholars to begin asking and answering questions about how SNAP is related to obesity, poverty, malnutrition, and school food programs. Though deemed largely effective, the authors offer ideas for continued program and policy improvement.
The Urban Composter: An Indoor and Outdoor Guide to Composting for the City Homesteader – With 30+ Tips and Tricks by Jeremy Bennett
Regardless of the size of living space, this book teaches that composting can be done anywhere, at any time. With a special focus on urban composting, Bennett offers the reader the ins and outs of what and how to compost, along with 30 tips and tricks that will benefit both the expert and the beginner.
Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land by Curtis Allen Stone
In this practical, hands-on manual, Curtis Allen Stone explains the business strategies and techniques that are necessary for creating a successful urban farm. As an experienced urban farmer, Stone teaches how to be profitable while minimizing risk and growing high-yield, high-value crops.
(Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank, foodtank.com)


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