Whether it’s tackling challenges like climate change and hunger, or working with the soil (and worms!) to grow healthier food, this summer reading list offers something for all kinds of readers. We hope these summer reading list books will inspire readers to contribute to a better food system, whether it’s growing food in the family’s backyard, educating the next generation on the importance of food, or encouraging sustainability through your own eating habits.
- Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups by Andy Fisher
Fisher takes a critical look at hunger by getting to its very root. Big Hunger shines a spotlight on economic inequality in America, highlighting the ways in which food charity might only treat a symptom and not the cause. Beyond pointing out problems, Fisher lays out a vision to beat hunger in America, pointing to work being done by grassroots organizations across the nation.
- Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese by Gordon Edgar
Why is it that American cheese is synonymous with cheddar? Edgar dives into the history of this quintessential cheese, from its humble handmade beginnings to the mass-produced block best recognized today. Recently released in paperback, Cheddar explores this cheese as more than a staple of the American diet, but as part of food politics and a distinct American food culture
- Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken
The encouraging book that everyone needed, the subtitle of Drawdown—The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming—just about says it all. Made up of a series of essays, this book lays out 100 substantive solutions to climate change, based on peer-reviewed research and existing projects around the world.
- Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense by Bob Holmes
Preferences for food are personal and cultural. But, as Holmes explains,they are also based on neurobiology. A veteran science reporter, Holmes speaks with everyone from innovative chefs to olfactory scientists to nail down what that illusive sense of flavour actually is. Flavor is written to open up the reader’s mind—and taste buds—to a whole new world of the science behind taste.
- The Forever Garden by Laurel Snyder
Summer means vacation time for the kids, and what better way to spend it than learning about growing your own food. In The Forever Garden, Snyder brings us the story of a girl who helps tend her neighbor’s garden everyday. Just as growing a garden takes time and care, Snyder shows us the importance of building strong relationships with those around us.
- Growing A Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life by David Montgomery
Montgomery looks at agriculture beginning with its basic building blocks: the soil. Drawing inspiration from farmers around the world who are working to regenerate soil health, Growing A Revolution explores practices that contribute to healthy ecosystems long into the future. Parting from the industrial tradition, this soil first approach makes a case for protecting farmers and the environment with fewer inputs and better practices.
- Letter to a Young Farmer: How to Live Richly without Wealth on the New Garden Farm by Gene Logsdon
The final book of essays by Gene Logsdon, the renowned author and self-proclaimed “contrary farmer,” Letter to a Young Farmer is dedicated to the new generation of farmers who are embracing a better, smaller form of agriculture. With a foreword by Wendell Berry and a contribution by Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg, this book is peppered with personal experiences, humor, and unique advice for the garden farmers of tomorrow.
- The Permaculture Market Garden: A Visual Guide to a Profitable Whole-Systems Farm Business by Zach Loeks
This one is for all the visual learners out there. Filled with illustrations that are as beautiful as they are instructional, The Permaculture Market Garden details the basics of setting up a thriving—and profitable—permaculture system on your land. This immersive look into small-scale production is designed to bring something new to novice and expert growers alike.
- The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge
Food and politics are deeply connected, and in The Potlikker Papers, Edge explores how that connection has shaped the American South over the last half century. From the role that cooks played in the Civil Rights movement to the back-to-the-land movement that began in the hills of Tennessee, this book provides a unique insight into food as a people’s history of the South.
- The Power of a Plant by Stephen Ritz
From globally acclaimed teacher Stephen Ritz, The Power of a Plant details the successful approach of incorporating food into every aspect of learning. Working in one of the nation’s poorest communities, Ritz has shown that by growing, cooking, eating, and sharing food, students become more engaged in what they do and more connected to one another.
- A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison
Published one year after the death of the New York Times bestselling author Jim Harrison, this collection of essays is a celebration of the work, life, and appetite of one of the country’s best known food writers. A Really Big Lunch features essays on food, love, writing, and aging, all told in Harrison’s infamous tone: biting wit that pulls no punches.
- Reducetarian by Brian Kateman
When Brian Kateman coined the term reducetarian, a global movement of deliberately reducing meat consumption was born. In this book of more than 70 essays, readers will discover the impact that cutting 10 percent of the meat in one’s diet can have on the body, animals, and the planet. Filled with original pieces from influential thinkers, vegan and vegetarian recipes, and practical tips, this book is a one-stop shop for reducing your meat consumption.
- Reinventing the Wheel by Bronwen Percival and Francis Percival
In the past century, cheese production has gone from small batches being the norm to a homogenous factory system. In Reinventing the Wheel, the Percivals explore the growing movement to reverse this trend, led by farmers, scientists, and cheese makers who are focused on the revival of local cultures and small-batch cheese.
- The Secret Life of Your Microbiome (forthcoming) by Susan L. Prescott and Alan C. Logan
Prescott and Logan shatter the barrier between bodies and nature, by focusing on the health of the body’s microbial ecosystem. In The Secret Life of Your Microbiome, readers learn about the crucial microbes that allow our bodies to run smoothly, and how each of us can keep that system healthy.
- Sugar Detox Me by Summer Rayne Oakes
That sugar habit has to be one of the toughest to kick. Sugar Detox Me is aimed at informing readers about the negative health impacts of sugar intake, while providing a full strategy to effectively remove sugar from any diet. Complete with more than 100 tantalizing recipes and 10 Meal Maps, readers will walk away happier, healthier, and very well fed.
- Sustainable Diets: How Ecological Nutrition Can Transform Consumption and the Food System by Pamela Mason and Tim Lang
Sustainable Diets sets out a major goal for governments, producers, and consumers alike: change public eating habits to make the food system more sustainable. Looking at everything from public health to the cultural importance of food, this book dives into the crucial issue of how to reduce the environmental impact of the food system.
- Worms at Work: Harnessing the Awesome Power of Worms with Vermiculture and Vermicomposting by Crystal Stevens
A celebration of worms, the powerhouses that help grow food from the soil up, this book is an easily implemented guide to putting worms to work. As a champion for these wriggly workers, Stevens teaches gardeners, homesteaders, and farmers alike how to better incorporate worms into a healthy growing system.
Have any food innovation favorites on your summer reading list? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is reprinted with permission from Food Tank. The original article appears here. Food Tank highlights hope and success in agriculture, featuring innovative ideas that are already working on the ground, in cities, in kitchens, in fields and in laboratories. Food Tank is a 501(c)3 non profit organization. Learn more at www.foodtank.com
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