Books to Inform Your Food Choices
Wendell Berry says, "Eating is an agricultural act." Given that most of us eat, it reasonably follows that we have a responsibility to inform ourselves as eaters. The books on this page are chosen with that in mind. Some relate to the specifics of food that we buy and eat, others to the larger picture of the economic and agricultural practices that under-gird our choices and responsibilities as eaters, and others to the yet larger questions of the stewardship of creation, our neighborhoods and of our soul and soil. These are just a few of our favorites.
has been finding, writing, commisioning so many of the books that provide the academic undergirding for so much of what is happening in the new food economy. William Albrecht's writings, knowledge nearly lost to obscurity, provide the foundational information at the soil level that will increase your appreciation of good farming and make you marvel at the miracle.
Crisis and Opportunity by John Ikerd
Dr Ikerd worked in Extension Agricultural Economics positions at North Carolina State University, 1970-76 and Oklahoma State University, 1976-84 and was Head of Extension Agricultural Economics, University of Georgia, 1984-89. In the 80’s, John had a “conversion” of sorts. During the farm crises of that era, he experienced first-hand the failures of the policies he had been advocating to farmers. John then reoriented his work towards sustainable agriculture and economic sustainability. He returned to the University of Missouri in 1989, under a cooperative agreement with the USDA, to provide state and national leadership for research and education programs related to sustainable agriculture. He is a man of great compassion, high intellect and many years of experience on both sides of the agricultural divide.
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler and Alice Waters
Food is precious. It is guarded, valued and utilized to its fullest. Inherent in the feeding of the human body there is a sacramental character. Cooking well doesn't require any fancy equipment nor the "finest" ingredients. "the best meals rely upon the ends of the meals that came before them."
The Unsettling of America; Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry has been a prophetic writer for many years. Like most prophets of substance, his culture has been slow to listen. He is well worth your time and attention.
Sustainable Capitalism by John Ikerd
In this highly readable, accessible, and provocative book, economist John Ikerd sets out an ambitious goal: to challenge neoclassical economics and to suggest a new way of achieving a sustainable economic system...Ikerd is a highly qualified and articulate critic who is up to this task.. This book performs a real service by convincingly stating that sustainable capitalism need not just be a limiting future and that government's role in the economy should involve more than simply protecting private property rights.
What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth by Wendell Berry
The introduction to this book by Herman E. Daly, professor of economics at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, is reason to get this book all by itself. He eloquently sets the stage for a broad and helpful conversation of economics that reveres the entire human being. Mr Berry continues to amplify the subject in full context throughout a number of very good essays.
The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics and Civil Society by Janet Flammang, PhD
Dr. Flammang is a professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University. She refers to the dinner table as a "temporary democracy". She proposes a solid connection between our foodways and meals together and how we act out our public political life together.
The Way of Ingnorance and Other Essays by Wendell Berry
Referring to a poem by TS Eliot that there is a WAY of ignorance. Given that "our ignorance is irremediable" in the context of what can be known, we therefore should follow a way of commensurate humility.
Articles and Research
It's All About the Soil
Interview with Dr. Christine Jones, "The Life Giving Link Between Carbon and Healthy Topsoil" For several decades, Jones has helped innovative farmers and ranchers implement regenerative agricultural systems that provide remarkable benefits for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, water management, and productivity. She has a lot of research and papers. See her website for more in depth reading.
VIDEO: "Building New Topsoil" Dr. Christine Jones