by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Books

May 26 2017

Weekend reading: Food & Society

Amy E. Guptill, Denise A. Copelton and Betsy Lucal.  Food & Society: Principles and Paradoxes, 2nd ed.  Polity, 2016.  

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I did a blurb for this one:

Food & Society gives us a fascinating introduction to the issues in food studies of greatest current concern.  From identity to health, marketing, and the externalized costs of food, this exceptionally well researched and written book explains why food matters so much and why it generates such intense controversy.  The book may be aimed at students, but anyone interested in food issues will have much to learn from the paradoxes it presents.

May 19 2017

Weekend reading: Food First

Tanya M. Kerssen and Teresa K. Miller.  Food First: Selected Writings from 40 Years of Movement Building.  Food First Books, 2015.

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I just got sent my copy of this book, for which I did this blurb:

For 40 years, Food First has been at the forefront of deep thinking about the consequences of agricultural and food consumption practices and injustices, and what needs to be done to achieve food systems that are healthier for people and the planet.  It is an invaluable resource for students, scholars, and advocates.  May it flourish for another 40 years at least!

It’s a reader, introduced by Francis Moore Lappé, with dozens of short essays on hunger, food aid, the green revolution, agroecology, peasant food sovereignty, food justice, climate justice, and transformative food movements.

It also has a timeline of the impressive achievements of Food First, starting with Frankie Lappé’s inspirational Diet for a Small Planet (I used it as a textbook in the first nutrition class I ever taught) and ending with Eric Holt-Gimenez’s anniversary speaking tour.

Happy anniversary First Food, and apologies for the late greetings.

May 12 2017

Weekend reading: Power of a Plant

Stephen Ritz with Suzie Boss.  The Power of a Plant: A Teacher’s Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools.  Rodale, 2017.  

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I did a blurb for this most entertaining book:

Here’s proof positive that one person can make a difference.  Stephen Ritz uses food plants—the Bronx Green Machine–to transform kids and their school environments.  You can do this too!

May 5 2017

Weekend reading: What’s the Matter with Meat?

Katy Keiffer. What’s the Matter with Meat?  Reaktion Books, 2017.

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Katy has a terrific show on Heritage Radio that I’ve been on several times and I was happy to do a blurb for her new book:

Katy Keiffer has produced a thorough and well researched analysis of everything that’s wrong with industrial meat production.  Her book is worth reading for its focus on animal welfare, antibiotic resistance, and worker safety, but even more for its critique of the effects of animal feed production on international trade and land grabs.  This book is for everyone who cares about how meat-eating affects our planet.

Apr 28 2017

Weekend cooking: Spiralize This!

Martha Rose Shulman.  Spiralize This!  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

I did a blurb for this book but only just got my copy.  I don’t usually blurb books about cooking, but Martha is a friend and spiralized vegetables are more fun than anything.  Here’s what I wrote, all true.

Who knew that preparing vegetables could be so much fun.  The fabulous Martha Rose Shulman gives you full permission to play with your food and use a spiralizer gadget to produce the most gorgeous meals ever eaten.  Vegetables have never been so easy, beautiful, delicious, and inspiring to eat.

Apr 21 2017

Weekend reading: Andy Fisher’s Big Hunger

Andrew Fisher.  Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups.  MIT Press, 2017.

 

This book has a big theme, and I was happy to do a blurb for it:

If you don’t understand why anti-hunger groups hardly ever advocate for higher wages or public health nutrition measures for low-income Americans, see Andy Fisher’s analysis: they owe too much to their food-company donors.  Big Hunger is a call to action, one well worth heeding.

Here’s his interview today in Civil Eats.

Mar 31 2017

Weekend Reading: Fast Food Kids

Amy L. Best.  Fast Food Kids: French Fries, Lunch Lines, and Social Ties.  New York University Press, 2017.

This is an academic sociologist’s account of what and how kids eat in school, and why.  Amy Best, a professor at George Mason University, spent several years quietly observing kids eating at McDonald’s and Chipotle, and in cafeterias in a low- and high-income high school.  She also did countless interviews.

The result is a reality-based analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of school lunch programs, and how school cafeterias are used by kids as public spaces defined, as Best puts it, by racial segregation and educational and income inequalities.  She also has plenty to say about attempts to reform school meals, the role of “hypervigilant” parents, and the draw of fast food.

Of school food, she says:

Unlike family food, school food holds little if any sacred value; nor does it contain the allure of commercial foods…What is clear is that for some kids, school lunch will continue to be regarded with indifference (and in some cases open contempt).  That is the case because the food is school food.  In principle, kids find the relationship to public school objectionable, not the food itself (even though some school food really does warrant genuine complaint).  Boredom with food is also about boredom with school.

She argues for introducing critical food literacy into the school curriculum, meaning critical thinking about current food system issues.  This sounds to me like what Alice Waters has been trying to do–and is doing–through her Edible Schoolyard projects, and also like the work of the Center for Ecoliteracy.  Both call for issues related to school lunch to be part of the school’s educational mission.  Best does not mention either effort in her book, an unfortunate omission in an otherwise thoughtful account of a complicated and important topic.

Mar 24 2017

Weekend reading: Supersizing Urban America

Chin Jou.  Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food with Government Help. University of Chicago Press, 2017.

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I first read this book in manuscript form and have been its biggest fan ever since.  It’s terrific that it is now out and can—and should—be read by everyone.

I was delighted to do a back-cover blurb for it:

This page-turner of a book tells a virtually unknown story.  Federal policies to assist small businesses deliberately introduced fast-food outlets into low-income minority areas to the benefit of franchise owners but promoting widespread obesity in these communities.  For anyone interested in the role of government policy in food, health, and race relations, Supersizing Urban America is a must-read.

I met Chin Jou last year when I was at the University of Sydney, where she now teaches.  They are so lucky to have her there.  This is first-rate work–a model of how to make historical research totally relevant to today’s food issues.

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