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Five Books about the Costs (and Pleasures) of Our Food Choices

As the debate over the nation’s farm and food policy heats up this summer, you can learn more about what’s at stake without snoozing through policy papers. We’ve picked five books to help you learn more about the important connections between farms and food, and you don’t have to leave the beach to read them.

Book cover of Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

1) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver. The bestselling author’s latest book chronicles her family’s year-long experience living only off food grown on their own land or raised by farmers in their southwestern Virginia community. The family’s “experiment” of eating only local foods eventually becomes their way of life.

Book cover: Food Fight2) Foodfight: The Citizen’s Guide to a Food and Farm Bill, Daniel Imhoff. This one may be a bit more policy-oriented than your average beach book, but Foodfight makes the list for covering the nuances of a policy debate so important that you can’t wait until fall to learn about it. The book explains how the farm bill has turned into one of the most important forces affecting food, farming and land use in the United States.


Book cover: Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally 3) Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon. A typical ingredient in a meal today has traveled 1,500 miles or more from a farm to your plate. The authors of Plenty decided to minimize the environmental costs of their eating choices by adopting the 100 mile diet: eating food grown within a 100 mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. The book may give you the inspiration to reduce your food’s “carbon footprint,” too.


Book cover: Omnivore's Dilemma4) The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. By the bestselling author of Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma will change the way you think about the politics and pleasures of eating. Pollan sheds light on the complex relationships that bind humans with the animals and plants we depend on for sustenance, and raises questions about the profound implications of modern food production.


Book cover: Ethical Gourmet5) The Ethical Gourmet, Jay Weinstein. Socially conscious eating becomes one step easier with Weinstein’s culinary guide to minimizing the impact of our food choices on the environment. The book contains more than 100 guilt-free recipes as well as cooking techniques to help you best enjoy environmentally sustainable foods.  


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