by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Books

Apr 17 2015

Weekend language instruction: Sauver la Planète

Thanks to Bernard Lavallée for sending me a copy of his book, Sauver la Planète une Bouchée à la Fois: Trucs et Conseils (Translation: Save the Planet One Bite at a Time : Tips and Advice), Les Éditions La Presse, 2015.

It’s a beautifully designed and illustrated book about food and food systems—with recipes—meant for French-speaking Canadians, but it’s lovely to have even if you can’t read French well (which I cannot).

Lavallée, who calls himself the “urban nutritionist,” blogs at http://nutritionnisteurbain.ca/ and tweets @b_lavallee

 

Apr 10 2015

Weekend reading and cooking: Afro-Vegan

Bryant Terry.  Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed. Ten Speed Press, 2015.

The fabulous Bryant Terry has produced a terrific book on an unexpected topic.  Who knew that classic African diaspora cooking—collards, grits, okra, and the like—could be just as delicious and just as culturally meaningful without including ingredients of animal origin.

In this book, he gives the also fabulous Jessica Harris “Permission to Speak,” which is what her Foreword is titled.  Bryant, she says, “amply and ably demonstrates that he knows that food and culture are inseparable and that history is always there on the plate.”

This is a serious work of culinary skill.  Bryant doesn’t make a big deal of his veganism.  He just shows how to cook traditional foods, really well.

Prediction: This book will win prizes.

 

Apr 3 2015

Weekend reading: The Psychology of Eating and Drinking

Alexandra Logue, The Psychology of Eating and Drinking 4th Ed, Routledge, 2014.

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I’m always being asked questions like “what about psychology?”  “Isn’t stress a major factor in overeating?”

I couldn’t be happier to see this book again, now in its 4th edition, and have the chance to blurb it:

Alexandra Logue’s now classic text is the place to begin exploring how our psychology—as distinct from genetics–influences human taste preferences, eating behavior, and food choices.  Logue deals with the evidence available to help explain anorexia, obesity, alcoholism, and the near universal craving for chocolate.  Does psychology matter in food choice?  Here’s where to answer that question.

Mar 27 2015

Weekend reading: Fruits of Eden

Amanda Harris.  Fruits of Eden: David Fairchild and America’s Plant Hunters.  University Press of Florida, 2015.

I blurbed this one:

If you have ever wondered how navel oranges, figs, avocados, dates, and other such foods came to be grown in America, here’s the answer: plant explorers.  Amanda Harris tells the stories of adventurers sent out to search the world for delicious foods.  Fruits of Eden is a welcome history of these little-known plant experts who succeeded in improving the diversity and deliciousness of our daily fare.

 

 

Mar 20 2015

Weekend reading: Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids

Kiera Butler.  Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids & How its Lessons Could Change Food & Farming Forever.  University of California Press, 2014.

New Picture (1)

 

Kiera Butler usually writes for Mother Jones (her latest is about how McDonald’s markets to kids) but this time took on an investigative reporter’s immersion into the world of 4-H, the venerable youth-mentoring program aimed at “growing confident kids.”

Although the program’s website says “4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System & USDA,” you have to look hard to see how it relates to its farming origins.

Butler follows several individual 4-H members, young teenagers, who are deeply engaged in raising and showing animals at county fairs.  She follows their experiences for a year and observes their demonstrable growth in skills, confidence, and the handling of disappointment.  These are the impressive accomplishments of this program.

But she is also well aware of the many contradictions of 4-H: the high cost of participation, its lack of racial and ethnic diversity, its promotion of the values of industrial agriculture, the divide between urban and rural members, and the surprising lack of attention to what agriculture is about and its importance to the economy and society.

Her conclusion: 4-H needs to be challenged to promote critical thinking about agriculture.

Raise is a good read and is thoroughly convincing about the need for such thinking.

Feb 27 2015

Weekend cooking: Nancy Jenkins’ Virgin Territory

Nancy Harmon Jenkins.  Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

Although I don’t usually do blurbs for cookbooks, this one goes into so much depth about why olives and their oil matter—and how the olives are grown, harvested, and extracted—that I couldn’t resist.  Jenkins is a wonderful writer as well as a splendid cook.

Virgin Territory takes a deep dive into the history, culture, and taste of olive oil.  Jenkins grows olives, harvests them, and cooks with her own oil.  A terrific cook, she passionately wants everyone to know the difference a high quality extra-virgin olive oil can make to any dish.  I learned so much about olive oil from this book and can’t wait to try every one of her recipes.

 

Feb 6 2015

Weekend reading: The U.S. Food System

Roni Neff, editor.  Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity.  Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Jossey-Bass, 2015. 

New Picture (1)

This is an undergraduate textbook for students in courses dealing with almost anything having to do with food as it relates to larger societal issues of economics, policy, marketing, culture, security, health, and the environment.  It is large (542 pages, 8.5 x 11), easy to read, and well illustrated.  It ought to be terrific in stimulating thinking about these issues, particularly because it covers everything you can think of that’s important in this area, from farm subsidies to school lunches.  The only thing missing is international dimensions, but that would take another book of this size.

Also focused on the U.S. food system is the Institute of Medicine’s report I wrote about a couple of weeks ago: A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System.

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Between the two, you have a full course on food systems, especially because the IOM report comes with:

Jan 27 2015

Reading for a snowbound day: Noodle Narratives

Frederick Errington, Tatsuro Fujikura, and Deborah Gewertz.  The Noodle Narratives: The Global Rise of an Industrial Food into the Twenty-First Century.  University of California Press, 2013.

New Picture

 

How did it happen that lots of people subsist on instant noodles?  As the anthropologist authors explain, Ramen noodles are ubiquitous, quotidian, tasty, convenient, cheap, and shelf stable.  The industrial (cheap) versions are loaded with MSG and palm oil.   But then, there’s the David Chang Momofuko version, “cosmopolitan and classy,” requiring pounds of meat and taking hours to prepare (not cheap).  This book is about the commodification of instant noodles, starting from small Japanese markets and ending up as the world’s most widespread industrial food: “a capitalist provision that provisions capitalism.”  But will they feed the world?  “Our hope is that the future will provide at least a modest mosaic of choices—a mosaic in which competing orientations toward food, with an emphasis either on security or sovereighty, will continue to challenge one another in a socially and environmentally productive way.

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