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Eighteen books to give food lovers

These books help eaters find the most nutritious and delicious produce at the supermarket, provide recipes that are good for teen chefs, educate readers about the importance of saving indigenous seeds, and provide home cooks the inspiration they need to start canning and preserving. 

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    Eat to live or live to eat? These books can intrigue, touch, motivate and make readers hungry.
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Whether you are sitting on the beach, stuck at the airport, or cuddled up next to the fire this winter, these 18 books can help satisfy your mind, soul, and stomach.

These books help eaters find the most nutritious and delicious produce at the supermarket, provide recipes that are good for teen chefs, educate readers about the importance of saving indigenous seeds, and provide home cooks the inspiration they need to start canning and preserving. Moving memoirs like Poor Man’s Feast and Wisdom of the Last Farmer will leave readers intrigued, touched, motivated—and hungry.

Consider adding these 18 books to your holiday wish list.

Recommended: GMO, Organic, and seven other food labels you should know

The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites by Libby O’Connell

Libby O’Connell, the Senior Vice President and Chief Historian for the History Channel and A&E Networks, fills this book with fascinating food facts, including how meatloaf was a product of wartime rationing in the United States and became a symbol of the home front’s effort to support the war effort. Readers can explore America’s culinary evolution, from popcorn to animal crackers, in this tantalizing book of short stories.

The Chain: Farm, Factory and the Fate of Our Food by Ted Genoways

Author Ted Genoways gives a vivid view into the modern meat packing industry. Using an incident at Hormel Foods as a starting place, this book travels across America’s heartland to collect stories from hog breeders, factory line workers, union leaders, farmers, and activists.

Cowed:  The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment by Denis A. Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes

After an eye-opening trip the United Kingdom, husband and wife team Denis and Gail Boyer Hayes set out to explore the environmental and social implications of cattle production and consumption. The books begins by looking at the co-evolution of cows and humans and evolves into a quest to build a better food system.

Deep Roots Published by Tudor Rose and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization

2014 was designated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as the International Year of Family Farming. FAO recently released the book Deep Roots, which examines family farming on multiple levels including policy, youth involvement, food security, and nutrition. Currently, a digital version of the publication is available for free.

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production by Nicolette Hahn Niman

Biologist and environmental lawyer turned rancher, Nicolette Hahn Niman argues that through proper management, cattle production can have many benefits, including sustaining grassland ecosystems and producing more nutritious meat and milk. Hahn Niman uses scientific data to dispel many popular misconceptions about the negative health effects of eating red meat and advocates for pasture-raised meat as part of a healthy diet.

Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs by Rozanne Gold

Renowned chef and author Rozanne Gold brought together a team of teen chefs to create a cookbook emphasizing creativity in the kitchen and eating healthy. This fully-illustrated cookbook is packed with more than 80 fun recipes and kitchen tips.

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

Since humans began farming, plants have been subjected to both natural and artificial selection. Over time, these processes have created fruits and vegetables that are high in starch and sugar and low in essential nutrients. Robinson discovered that if you know where to look, and what to look for, local grocery stores often sell many flavorful and nutritious varieties. This book was created as a guide for how to shop at the grocery store, farmers market, and in seed catalogs.

The Edge of Extinction: Travels with Enduring People in Vanishing Lands by Jules Pretty

From the mountains of China to the lush hills of New Zealand and beyond, The Edge of Extinction is an adventure of discovering people around the world who are living close to the land. This book is full of insight on how various small communities live sustainably, and how they may be key to a more sustainable future.

The Evolving Sphere of Food Security edited by Rosamond Naylor

Rosamond Naylor and a group of scholars take a multidisciplinary approach to investigating the dynamic nature of food security. Real-world examples and stories bring to life the complexity of securing food across the planet.

Farmers' Rights in Practice: Synthesis of the case studies of sustainable use of agrobiodiversity published by Farmer’s Seeds

This book provides great insight into improving farmers’ rights and agricultural sustainability from a European perspective. Case studies on countries, including France, Hungary, Scotland, Romania, and Italy, discuss relevant issues, such as seed protection, current political support for sustainable agriculture, and the state of agrobiodiversity within these countries. A digital version of the publication is currently available for free.

Food Security Development: Country Case Studies edited by Udaya Sekhar Nagothu Coming Soon!

This soon-to-be-released book is a comprehensive and pragmatic look into food security. Dr. Udaya Sekhar Nagothu and his team examine nine countries through a multidisciplinary lens in order to gain perspective on the causes of food insecurity. Each case study also discusses the current successes and failures that are shaping the food system, and provides potential solutions to the failures.

Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity edited by Roni Neff

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future recently released this important textbook about the United States food system. Contributions come from more than 100 food system experts who use an evidence-based approach to examine the complex relationship between public health, the economy, the environment, and food production. Suitable for both students and non-academics alike, this textbook includes information about social justice, food insecurity, food marketing, nutrition, and ecological degradation.

Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet by Amy Bentley

Amy Bentley, a New York University associate professor, writer, and food journal editor, investigates the history behind baby food and the impact it has had on culture, nutrition, medicine, and parental care. This book is a story about infant feeding habits during a boom of commercialization and industrialization, and the implications for motherhood and consumerism.

Poor Man's Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking by Elissa Altman

Based on Altman’s James Beard Award-winning blog, “Poor Man’s Feast,” this book is a heartfelt and often hilarious food memoir. Growing up in a home with a food-obsessed father and an extremely weight-conscious mother, Altman has an interesting relationship with food. Embedded within this poignant and honest narrative are 27 recipes.

Sacred Seed edited by Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW)

Sacred Seed was created through a collaboration between the Global Peace Initiative of Women and environmental leader Dr. Vandana Shiva. It contains writings from various mystics, shamans, and esteemed religious leaders. This collection of essays provides a conduit for re-connecting to the mystery and significance of seeds, as well as the race to protect them.

Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling and Preserving by Kevin West

Preserve the season’s most flavorful foods, create one-of-a-kind jams, or make spicy kimchi with Kevin West’s newest cookbook. Full of unique recipes, bold flavors, and beautiful photography, this cookbook can help eaters enjoy each season’s bounty all year long.

Tasting the Seasons by Kerry Dunnington

This cookbook helps chefs and eaters learn what’s available according to the time of year, not what’s available in the grocery store. These 250 recipes are tailored for each season, and the book is peppered with insightful commentary about the evolutionary and experimental process that created this book, as well as Dunnington’s views on the importance of local, fresh, whole food.

Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land by David Mas Masumoto

Set on a sprawling 80-acre organic peach, nectarine, and grape family farm, Mas Masumoto’s memoir revolves around the emotional, financial, and familial implications in the aftermath of his father’s stroke. This story brings awareness to the hard work and dedication needed for an immigrant family to lay down roots and establish a productive orchard.

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