As an avid reader, I often have 2-3 books in progress at a time, which serves my slightly ADD nature. The bulk of my reading material is of course focused on food, farming, and nutrition with a relatively recent foray into biotechnology textbooks, which are more frightening than any Edgar Allan Poe stories. I thought I’d share with you some of my top picks for interesting, empowering, inspiring and, in some cases, eye-opening summer reading.
If you are looking to better understand how our industrial food system and processed foods took over the American diet, I highly recommend Pandora’s Lunchbox, by Melanie Warner. Written from the point of view of a mother and an investigative journalist, Pandora’s Lunchbox is like an Indiana Jones adventure into the processes and ingredients that make our fast food, convenience foods what they are. Extremely well written, and quite a page-turner!
Foodopoly, written by organic farmer Wenonah Hunter, breaks down each sector of Big Ag and the business behind meat, vegetables, grain, and milk. She explains in great detail how factory farmed animals are kept and treated and processed. Even though I am a vegetarian, I found after reading the book that I could not walk near the meat section of a grocery store without a wave of revulsion and despair. Foodopoly is not light summer reading, but it provides excellent insight into the fundamental changes we must make to have sustainable agriculture that is respectful to the plants and animals and earth.
The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way by Alice Walker (The Color Purple) is a series of essays that are stirring, inspiring, curious, surprising. While not a “food” book, she writes passionately about the need to be awake and informed, how many of us were awakened by Monsanto and their seed domination. To be awake is to then be aware, and from that stems thoughtful, mindful actions. This is the kind of summer reading that provides plenty of fuel for thought year-round.
If you are a dog owner, Chow Hounds: Why our Dogs Are Getting Fatter by Ernie Ward, D.V.M is a must read. With almost half the dogs in the US considered overweight or obese, with cancer the number one killer of dogs, how and what we feed our canines is incredibly important. My dogs have really enjoyed some of his recipes for home made meals (the herring and kale with pumpkin and blueberries is a big hit). The book has excellent sections on how specific ingredients (sugar, fat, and salt) make dogs overeat, deciphering food labels, and how to make healthy meals at home.
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