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The Ultimate List of Recommended Food Movement Reads

There is a staggering amount of information available about the food movement and it can be hard to know where to begin. In the interest of helping people to sift through the noise we’ve put together a reading list of excellent books about the food movement.

Our list includes some of the top books released within the last ten years that have revolutionized the way people think about food, many of which come highly recommended by our team at Foodtree. Dive in to any one of them to learn more about what you’re eating and our global food system.

This list is not in a particular order because it’s not intended as a top ten (or top thirteen in this case). These are books that might lead you to that “AHA!” moment that most of us in the office have experienced!

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Author: Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan has written extensively about food over the years and is practically the poster boy for the food movement. This is a groundbreaking book that explores the questions of what we should eat by tracing four different food chains from source to plate.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Author: Barbara Kingsolver
This is a personal account of the year Barbara Kingsolver and her family spent growing their own food and what they learned from the experience. It’s an inspiring read and brings awareness to eating food in season, and delves into different aspects of the food industry. There are also numerous recipes throughout the book, including one for making cheese.

The Fruit Hunters

Author: Adam Gollner
Not as well known as some of the other books on this list, the Fruit Hunters is a fascinatingly detailed account of the world of fruit. There are hundreds of varietals of fruit around the world that we don’t have access to in North American grocery stores. Adam Gollner’s sensuous descriptions will have you craving exotic fruits of all kinds, and give you a peek into the crazy world of the fruit obsessed.

100-Mile Diet

Author: Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
Originally written as a series of articles for the Tyee, this is a first person account of eating food grown and processed within one hundred miles. Smith and MacKinnon pioneered the idea of only consuming food sourced from within a limited radius of home, and their experience highlights how much we rely on food imported from elsewhere.

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

Author: Paul Greenberg
This is written by a man who has been a life-long fisherman with an intimate perspective of the state of our oceans. He creates a thorough analysis of the state of wild and farmed seafood with a focus on the four fish we consume the most: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. The most important ecological question facing the oceans today is how we can sustainably meet this demand for certain types of seafood while using different methods of capturing and farming fish.

The End of Food

Author: Paul Roberts
In this carefully researched and vividly recounted narrative, Roberts lays out the stark economic realities beneath modern food and demonstrates how our institution of making, marketing, and moving what we eat is less and less compatible with the billions of consumers that system was built to serve.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Author: Eric Schlosser
There is a movie of the same name loosely based upon this non-fiction account of the affects of fast food upon North American culture and the food industry. The author goes behind the scenes to reveal terrifying bits of information that will be enough to put you off fast food forever.

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

Author: Marion Nestle
As with Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle has written an extensive list of food movement books you should also read. With Food Politics she focuses on the industry of food and the fierce competition by big business for our food dollars which has led to an increase in obesity and a decline in health despite a surplus of food. When it comes to the mass production and consumption of food, strategic decisions are driven by economics rather than science, common sense, or health.

Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood

Author: Taras Grescoe
Bottomfeeder is another perspective on the seafood industry, this time from a food lover’s perspective. Author Taras Grescoe shares the experience of his round the world quest for a truly decent seafood meal. He provides readers with an explanation of how to choose the best fish for our environment and our bodies, and eating from the bottom of the ocean food chain rather than from the top.

The Unhealthy Truth

Author: Robin O’Brien
The unhealthy truth is that much of the food available in North American grocery and fast food chains is full of things that aren’t good for us. Robin O’Brien examines the direct relationship between the manipulation of food and the increase in food allergies in children and cancers in adults. She offers recipes and an action plan for eliminating toxic ingredients from your diet and moving towards a healthier life.

Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

Author: Jamie Oliver
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been on a crusade that last few years to promote healthy eating in schools. This is a companion book to his television series, “The Food Revolution“. It is a recipe book with step-by-step instructions for simple, healthy meals for people who don’t know how to cook.

Why Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating

Author: Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman is the author of the popular cookbook, “How to Cook Everything”, which is filled with recipes and instructions to get people to learn to cook for themselves. With “Why Food Matters” he’s put together a handbook on eating healthy that is not reliant on animal products and nutritionally worthless food.

The Urban Food Revolution: Changing The Way We Feed Cities

Author: Peter Ladner
Recently published and written by a former Vancouver City Coucillor, this book focuses on ways for urban centers to move towards food security. The focus is on the need to bring food production into our communities to ensure that fresh sustainable food is affordable and widely available. It’s full of advice on how to join the local food revolution.

Any books you’d add to the list?

What books do you consider a “must read” when learning about food?

Image by Tess on Foodtree.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Grace #

    Fantastic reading list! Don’t forget “The Town that Food Saved” by Ben Hewitt exploring how Hardwick, Vermont rebuilt their community into a cooperative, sustainable food hub- setting the model that many would follow. It’s an inspiring story and important to show the ways things CAN work.

    December 8, 2011
  2. I would also add:

    Raj Patel – Stuffed & Starved
    A look at the problems with the global food chain all the way from the farm to the plate our our table. The range of research and evidence is impressive, and yet it’s written in a way that appeals to the general reader.

    Tristram Stuart – Waste:Uncovering the Global Food Scandal
    A key text in looking at just how much food is wasted and what can be done about it. A number of significant campaigns have been started due to this book.

    December 9, 2011
  3. Grace & Ruth, your suggestions both sound like terrific additions to our list. Thank you for commenting.

    December 9, 2011
  4. Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food is even more important than the earlier O.Dilemma. The book’s breadth is even greater and its conclusions are very profound

    December 9, 2011
  5. Brenda #

    The China Study gave me some aha! moments.

    December 9, 2011
  6. Merryn #

    I would add: Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence

    December 9, 2011
  7. Stella, Brenda, and Merryn – all great additions to the reading list. Thanks so much!

    December 9, 2011
  8. Jessica #

    Real Food, by. Nina Plank shares some good history & guidelines for turning your diet over to a more fresh, more traditional diet.

    December 9, 2011
  9. What you eat also has a large influence on carbon emissions. You have to eat more vegetables. You just can’t eat the ‘traditional meat and potatoes diet’ and expect to reduce carbon emissions by anything greater than about 10%.

    December 9, 2011
  10. Rob #

    Wendell Berry’s “A Place on Earth” and Ellen Davis’s “Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture”

    December 9, 2011
  11. Andrew #

    The Conscious Kitchen by Alexandra Zissu

    December 9, 2011
  12. Great suggestions all! This really could be a huge reading list.

    December 12, 2011
  13. Samantha #

    Eating Animals, by Jonathon Safran Foer :)

    June 15, 2012

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