Food Tank’s Reading List: 17 Sustainable Agriculture and Food Books for Spring 2017

Thanks to Food Tank for compiling this great list of 17 sustainable agriculture and food books to educate, inform, and inspire us this season. According to Food Tank, whether you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of modern, sustainable agriculture or searching for a new hobby—like making cheese with no dairy—these books about food, agriculture, and sustainability offer something for everyone. Including both seasoned and new authors, writing about health, food, the environment, and the intersection of all three, Food Tank hopes you find inspiration this spring.

1. Women in Agriculture: Professionalizing Rural Life in North America and Europe, 1880–1965, edited by Linda M. Ambrose and Joan M. Jensen

Studies of women in rural life, agriculture, and the home are fairly extensive, but the role of women in other agricultural roles has been examined less. This series of essays explores the role of women as agricultural researchers, producers, marketers, educators, and community organizers in North America and Europe and the expertise they have contributed to rural life and modern agriculture.

2. The President’s Kitchen Cabinet, by Adrian Miller

African-American culinary traditions have significantly influenced American food culture at its roots. In the past few centuries, soul food has pervaded more than the kitchens of American households and restaurants. It has left its mark on one of the most vital kitchens in the country—the White House. This book compiles the stories of more than 100 black men and women who served and fed our nation’s presidents.

3. Building the Agricultural City, by Robert Wolf

Wolf offers a plan for the future of rural economies based on the concept of regionalism, in which widespread, isolated communities become large cities, or agricultural cities. He implores rural communities to decentralize the wealth, work cooperatively to rebuild their economies, and move toward a stronger future.

4. Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty, by Mads Refslund and Tama Matsuoka Wong

With the new cookbook from Noma chef Mads Refslund, otherwise wasted foods—such as the presumably inedible parts of vegetables or stale and wilted foods—transform into impressive dishes. Overripe fruit becomes sweet glazes for meat dishes. Vegetable leaves and stalks become the savory bases of soups and sauces. Refslund’s tips and recipes enforce a new respect for the foods we exploit in our kitchens.

5. Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health, by Emily Monosson

The chemicals we have relied on for more than a century to keep our crops clean and healthy are no longer living up to their job. Diseases are outsmarting our defenses. Fortunately, Monosson offers a positive outlook on the future of plant protection and our subsequent health benefits with innovative scientific advancements that look to germs and bugs to work with nature instead of fighting against it.

6. The Food Lover’s Garden: Growing Cooking and Eating Well, by Jenni Blackmore

Whether you’re working with a small backyard plot or a few pots on your balcony, The Food Lover’s Garden will offer what you need to get started growing your own food. This guidebook/cookbook has the essentials for those who have a piqued interest in gardening but are not sure where to start. Blackmore then takes you beyond the growing phase with recipes for cooking, as well as preserving, the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.

7. The Tropical Oil Crop Revolution, by Roz Naylor

This information-packed book provides an outlook for an industry on the cusp of change. The oil crop revolution is gaining momentum and with it, the power to influence the food we eat, feed for our animals, the landscape, biofuels, and the economy. The industry’s biggest stakeholders and harshest critics aren’t the only ones to chime in on its impact. The Tropical Oil Crop Revolution analyzes the major costs versus benefits while exploring the sustainable options that could balance out its future.

8. The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking, by Karen McAthy

Who says a more ethical and healthy diet can’t include cheese? Whether you’re cutting back on dairy-based products or simply looking to try something new, the world of plant-based cheeses offers the same creamy texture from a new perspective. McAthy, an expert plant-based cheesemaker, shares her experience in unfolding new wonders for dairy-free cheese-lovers.

9. A Conversation about Healthy Eating, (forthcoming July 2017) by Nicholas A. Lesica

In A Conversation about Healthy Eating, Lesica’s highly scientific approach looks at what hasn’t worked in the past and why, and how we can better understand for ourselves the principles behind a healthy diet. So what is the secret, exactly? Lesica finds that it’s about avoiding processed foods as much as possible, and in the book, he provides lifestyle changes that can help you do just that.

10. Compact Farms, by Josh Volk

Amateur farmers and gardeners looking to turn their small farm into a business will find inspiration in the stories of 15 farms profiled in this book. The farms serve as guides for every step involved in building a farm enterprise—on five acres or less.

11. Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Our Edible World, by Julia Rothman

Food and food culture across the globe comes to life in this vividly illustrated book. Julia Rothman’s distinctive work makes learning about cheese slicing and challah braiding, among other things, interactive and engaging.

12. Sustainable Diets: How Ecological Nutrition Can Transform Consumption and the Food System, (forthcoming March 2017) by Pamela Mason and Tim Lang

This book is a comprehensive look at the sustainable diets, as opposed to the unsustainable diets that currently are heavily impacting the plant. The authors look at both nutrition and public health to understand what a sustainable diet actually entails and how we can shift to these diets in a way that still allows billions of people access to food.

13. The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife, (forthcoming April 2017) by Nancy Lawson

Lawson wants backyard gardeners to create a symbiotic relationship with the creatures and critters that need the natural habitats to survive. Through her book and an outreach initiative of the same name, she teaches readers how to grow inviting spaces for wildlife to prosper, from the best butterfly bushes and flowers for pollinators to techniques for living in harmony with animals otherwise thought of as pests.

14. The Permaculture Promise, by Jono Neiger

Looking for a beginner’s guide to permaculture? The Permaculture Promise explains the concept’s main practices from gardening and housing to transportation, energy, and how we structure our communities. Through 22 profiles of people and communities, Neiger demonstrates the ways that anyone can incorporate permaculture practices in their daily lives in order to contribute to a more sustainable world.

15. Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels, (forthcoming April 2017) by Abbie Gascho Landis

Step into the secret world of freshwater mussels, an unassuming creature of great value to the world’s waterways. Landis, a veterinarian, takes readers to the riverbeds and streams of the southeastern United States, where her own fascination began, in order to introduce them to a small piece of the delicate ecosystems we rely on.

16. Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip, by Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller

Ever wonder what defines Canadian food culture? Two friends wanted to find out, so they took off on a road-trip from one edge of the Great White North to the other in pursuit of the curiosities of Canadian gastronomic traditions. Along the way, they tell the stories of the characters they meet from chefs to farmers and First Nation elders. By the end, you’ll be licking your lips and searching for a ticket north.

17. Never Out of Season: How Having the Food We Want When We Want it Threatens Our Food Supply and Our Future by Rob Dunn

The bananas we eat today come from what modern scientists standardized in the 1960s from dozens into one basic banana, generally the same size, shape, and taste. Never Out of Season outlines how streamlining our crops—breeding the hardiest, best tasting varieties to be seemingly never out of season—has left our food supply without diversity and dangerously susceptible to nature’s pathogens.

About Food Tank

Around the world, people and organizations have developed innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the most pressing issues in food and sustainable agriculture. Through years of field visits (and years of trying to eat better in her own community) Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg has helped to highlight and promote these best practices. Food Tank is a 501(c)3 non profit organization. All donations and membership dues are tax deductible.

Boston Food Tank Summit

Don’t miss the Boston Food Tank Summit April 1 & 2, 2017. Food Tank, in collaboration with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Oxfam America, is excited to present the inaugural Boston Food Tank Summit. This two-day event will feature more than three dozen different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together for discussions on diverse topics. The theme for the Summit is Investing in Discovery.

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