As a writer of fiction, I constantly get the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” The answer is, two places: I get out and play in the world a lot and I read a LOT! I wanted to share some of the books on my shelf, so that you too…can get inspired.
Food and food production was the first topic I tackled. I haven’t read it yet, but Michael Pollan’s new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, sounds excellent. I enjoyed listening to a recent interview with him on Talk of the Nation and have it on hold at my local library. Michael Pollan also did a fantastic job with An Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Many people are familiar with Pollan’s writing, but I wanted to make you aware of some titles you may have missed.
I believe I stumbled up Fat Land by Greg Critser first. Being a health and wellness consultant, the subtitle, “How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World,” is what caught my eye. Critser tracks the rise of High Fructose Corn Syrup from the political motivations behinds its creation to the way it has influenced food pricing and “supersizing.”
I then moved on to Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. If you haven’t kicked your Mickey D’s habit yet…you will after reading this book!
With my interest in food production now piqued, The Meat You Eat: How Corporate Farming Has Endangered America’s Food Supply, leapt off the shelf and into my eager hands. Ken Midkiff, former Director of Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign, takes the reader on a journey. You learn the driving forces behind the demise of the family farm (sustainable) and the rise of industrial meat production.
By the time I move on to Diet for a Dead Planet: How the Food Industry is Killing Us, I had overhauled my own food buying habits. However, author Christopher D. Cook, really brought home the way government subsidies drive agri-corporations to pursue these destructive methods of farming. In an election year, it is relevant to understand how the Farm Bill touches every aspect of our lives.
This is valuable information and one every parent should be aware of. Industrial meat production threatens our waterways, lakes and oceans. Factory farming of threatens our health through fertilizer and pesticide use, antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, air and water quality and what nutrition is made available in our grocery stores and schools.
Sustainable Table has a wonderful round-up of the issues.
And…I haven’t even mentioned the humane treatment of animals angle. Suffice it to say, it can–and will–move you to tears. If you prefer a bit of laughter while still understanding the issues, The Meatrix won a lot of awards for a reason!
This may sound more depressing than inspiring. Watch for From My Bookshelf-Part 2. I will deliver the books behind hopeful flip-side!
[This post was written by Lee Welles.]
This is a great list of reads for people interested in the connection between food production and the environment (not to mention other social issues).
If I may throw another one onto the list, “Mad Cowboy” by Howard Lyman was one of the books that opened my eyes a lot on the subject.
Kendra Holliday says
I’m always behind on my books – I ordered Omnivore’s Dilemma as soon as it came out in paperback and still haven’t read it!
Another recommendation – The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. The book follows three families and their diets – The Standard American Diet, The Conscientious Omnivores, and The Vegans.
Lee Welles says
I’m glad to hear about these other titles. I often see other books on this topic, but (for filling the fiction well)have moved on to topics of water, and now rainforests and migratory birds! 🙂 Hmmm. Perhaps there are more than two parts to my ‘Off My Bookshelf’ postings!
Thank you for the introduction of sound books for people who wish to be better educated about the issues. I have yet to read any food-production related books, so this is very helpful.
In these days there seem to be a million different books coming out every day to talk about everything from any viewpoint; it’s hard to know how to distinguish the meat from the fat (excuse my simple analogy), or more accurately, meat from garbage.
What would be your ONE book to recommend on this topic since most people don’t have the time to read so so many? Or does it depend on each person’s current state of knowledge?
Lee Welles says
Personally, I would check out The Meat You Eat. Because meat production is so much more resource intensive than produce, it is the first thing worth getting your mind around. I found this book to be easy to “pick up and put down.” For non-fiction, I like books I can grab info out of when I have a spare moment vs. having to read for long stretches at a time. (I save that for the rippin’ good fiction!)
this is a great list of books.
not sure if you have heard about the two angry moms?
they are trying to get fresh and local food into our school lunch program.
they need help to make it happen…
former texas agricultural secretary susan combs said that it will take 2 million angry moms to change the school lunch program.
get more information @ http://www.angrymoms.org