Winter break is a great time to relax, sit by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, and get caught up on some great reading. Books also make great holiday gifts! Sprout co-editor Nako Kobayashi has rounded up some recently and soon-to-be published food, agriculture, and nutrition-focused books to keep you satiated this holiday season.
TACKLING OUR CURRENT FOOD SYSTEM
Our current food system faces many environmental and nutrition-related challenges. These three books accessibly explore the ways popular culture, the food industry, and trade policies impact the way we eat.
by Marion Nestle (Oct. 30)
In today’s saturated information environment, we are constantly bombarded with new health and nutrition claims, and it can be difficult to decipher which ones we should believe. In her most recent book, Marion Nestle uncovers how industry-backed studies and marketing skew the conversation surrounding nutrition. By thoroughly investigating numerous nutrition and health claims that originate from the food industry itself, Nestle uncovers how, amidst all of the so-called “evidence-based” research, industry interests often prevail.
by Virginia Sole-Smith (Nov. 13)
Today’s food culture has instilled many with a sense of fear and guilt regarding something that should give us nourishment and joy–food. Her newborn daughter’s struggles with eating following a medical crises triggered Sole-Smith to investigate the deterioration of our society’s relationship with food and what we can do to make it better.
by Alyshia Gálvez (Sept. 18)
There are increasing concerns about the externalities of global politics at the expense of individuals who do not have the power to influence their outcomes. Alyshia Gálvez dives deep into the ways Mexico’s negotiations regarding NAFTA changed the Mexican diet and led to the development of a public health emergency.
INNOVATION IN THE FOOD SECTOR
While challenges abound, solutions are also taking shape. From the plant-based revolution to innovative start-ups, many food advocates are reshaping our problematic food system.
by Jacy Reese (Nov. 6)
In the past few decades, many concerned citizens, scientists, and activists have revealed the bleak reality of conventional animal farming systems. This has spurred change within our food system. While vegans used to be regarded with disdain, vegan and vegetarian restaurants and food options are now widely prevalent. Even die-hard meat eaters can now get their fix through plant-based and cultured meats. In his new book, Reese does not set out to explain the already well-documented reasons why animal farming is problematic. Instead, he explains how we can move toward an animal-free food system and introduces us to the innovations that have already emerged.
by Michael Carolan (Nov. 15)
While the American dream used to be one of independence and autonomy, individuals are increasingly seeing the benefit of collaborating and sharing with others in order to achieve their own sovereignty and happiness. Carolan documents how the sharing of spaces, material goods, and even food itself is becoming more and more commonplace within our food system. He argues that genuine collaborations are leading to a healthier, more sustainable, and more ethical food system.
by Carole Counihan (Dec. 13)
Cultural Anthropologist Carole Counihan provides a detailed ethnographic account of the grassroots food revolution occurring in Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy. Three key themes emerged through Counihan’s interviews with activists: the significance of territorio (or place), the importance of taste, and the role of education. Exploring these themes, Counihan documents how these activists are using consumption as a force of change in their grassroots efforts to combat the dominant agro-industrial food system.
FOOD AS NARRATIVE
Food is often a central part of the way we think about our past, present, and future. From what we ate for breakfast to a memorable dish from our childhood, food often shapes the way we remember casual moments and special occasions. These next three books use food as the vehicle for powerful and heartwarming narratives.
edited by Ruth Reichl (Oct. 2)
This collection of stories focuses on the intimate relationship between people and food. Stories range from NBA players’ pre-game snack of PB&J sandwiches to a well-known chef’s attempt to reinvent a school lunch program. Others will leave you contemplating the challenges of eating for health on a limited budget.
by Christine O’Brien (Nov. 13)
Crave is a memoir centered around food and O’Brien’s strained relationship with it throughout her childhood. It is an account of hunger, but not in the traditional sense. Through the stories of her mother’s bizarre dietary regimen that forced her and her three brothers to eat a diet that consisted mainly of celery and blended salads, O’Brien recounts her hunger for food, stability, and family throughout her life.
by Ann Hood (Dec. 4)
Food can be a powerful vehicle for nostalgia, memory, and sentiment. Through 27 short stories, each centered around a dish (with a recipe to go along with it, of course), Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen. From tasting her grandmother’s tomato sauce as a child, to teaching her own kids how to make their favorite potatoes, Hood recounts how the power of a good meal helped her through childhood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage.
A BIT OF HISTORY
We often take for granted how certain foods have ended up on our plates. These next two books dive deep into the histories of commonplace foods, tracking their origins and uncovering surprising details of their journey to our plates.
The Seven Culinary Wonders of the World: A History of Honey, Salt, Chile, Pork, Rice, Cacao, and Tomato
by Jenny Linford (Oct. 16)
Have you ever wondered why tomatoes, a new-world crop, came to become such a dominant ingredient in old-world Europe? Or how chocolate came to be loved by so many around the world? Jenny Linford tracks the history of some of the most common ingredients we now take for granted. Through social, cultural, historical, and botanical lenses, she explores the origins and evolution of these seven ingredients and offers 63 original recipes to help the reader use the ingredients in both traditional and innovative ways.
by Cynthia Clampitt (Oct. 16)
Pork is one of the most commonly consumed meats in the world. In the U.S., pork has often been overshadowed by beef, but today, we are seeing a resurgence in its popularity. Clampitt tracks the history of pig as pork in the American midwest, investigating the origins of the various forms of one of America’s favorite meats. From the ways chefs incorporate various parts of the pig, to the controversies that surround the hog industry, Clampitt explores the relationship between humans and pigs over time from every angle imaginable.
RECIPES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Whether or not traveling is a part of your holiday plans, these cookbooks will help you create amazing food from around the world.
by Daniel Olivella (Sept. 4)
Spain is a country with a diverse array of flavors and cultures. Catalonia’s vibrant cuisine, inspired by the region’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, is the focus of Daniel Olivella’s new book that includes not just recipes but the narrative behind each dish. Catalan culture is deeply tied to its food, so what better way to learn about the region’s history and heritage than through Olivella’s 80 carefully curated recipes!
by Marti Buckley (Sept. 11)
Another cookbook highlighting Spain’s diverse food culture, “Basque Country” features the cuisine of an autonomous community tucked into the northwest corner of Spain. Basque Country, surrounded by both ocean and mountains, has the most Michelin-starred restaurants of anywhere else in the world. Buckley takes the reader on an authentic and exclusive journey straight to the heart of the sometimes inaccessible foodie haven, exploring how the region focuses on quality ingredients to bring intense flavors and joy to the kitchen table.
by Austin Bush (Oct. 23)
Any spicy food lover likely knows the deliciousness of Thai food. But Thailand’s cuisine offers so much more than just Pad Thai and Pad See Ew. Bush takes you on a journey through the region, allowing you to learn directly from chefs, vendors, professors, and home cooks about the dishes central to Northern Thai cuisine and how to cook their favorite recipes. If you think you know everything there is to know about Thai food, think again, as you may be delightfully surprised.
by Trine Hahnemann (Oct. 2)
Danish food writer and chef Trine Hahnemann takes us on a journey through her home town’s vibrant food scene. Packed with beautiful photographs of the city and its food, “Cophenhagen Food” will make you want to pack your bags and fly immediately to this charming Scandinavian city. From the hottest up-and-coming restaurants to the long-standing classics, from Copenhagen coffee culture to street food, there is nothing that escapes the attention of Hahnemann. She also offers up some of her favorite recipes that will help you get a taste of Copenhagen without leaving your home.
*Please note, the author has not read all of these books. Summaries were paraphrased from descriptions available online.
Nako Kobayashi is an AFE student interested in sustainable and diversified food systems. She spent the summer working for Assawaga Farm at the Union Square Farmers Market every Saturday, as well as interning for Tufts Office of Sustainability on the Medford/Somerville campus. She loves devouring both food and stories about food on a daily basis.