I have always loved food and have always been a voracious (please appreciate the perfectly-fitted collocation) reader, yet only recently have I combined these two passions of mine. Most importantly, I have combined them with a third element: my commitment to sustainability. Food production, consumption and processing has a lot to do with sustainability, and recently I have discovered a great amount of literature on the topic. I’m listing here four books that have been sources of inspiration for me, that look at both environmental and social sustainability from very different angles and that are exquisite readings!
- AnimalVegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
This book is a documentation of the project which American novelist Kingsolver decided to embark on with her family. For a year, Kingsolver and her family would only eat food which was produced either by them or in their neighbourhood. In this way, they became independent from the industrial food chain, they supported local farmers, experienced agriculture and only ate seasonal foods. The book is made even more interesting by the delicious recipes, written by the author’s daughter, which you will find in between the chapters of the book.
- Hungerby Martìn Caparròs
The Argentinian writer produced an unparalleled investigation on the causes, dynamics and consequences of hunger in the world. Interestingly, Caparròs sheds light on the social and economic consequences of the modern food market. India is one of his case studies. India exports 60 million tons of wheat every year, to the price of 5,45 rupees a kilo. In India’s internal market, a kilo of wheat is sold for 6,40 rupees. India is the single country with the highest number of undernourished people. This book shows how unsustainable consumption patterns are causing 800 million people in the world to starve.
- I Signori del Cibo (The Lords of Food) by Stefano Liberti
Stefano Liberti analyses the production chain of four different foods, namely pork, soy, tuna tins and tomato paste. The Italian journalist focuses on the commodification of food which has allowed large multinational corporations to prosper to the detriment of mainly agricultural economies, of biodiversity of crops and species, of traditional practices, of the genuine taste of food and of our own health. Fortunately, Liberti also writes about little cooperatives, small businesses and organic farms which give us hope for the future.
- Eating Animalsby Jonathan Safran Foer
This book offers a slightly more philosophical outlook on food. The American novelist, approaching fatherhood, decides to ponder carefully about the ethical implications of meat consumption. He takes the time to think about the reasons why we eat pigs but not dogs. He analyses the cultural significance of food: turning vegetarian may mean giving up one’s culture and gastronomic heritage. Ultimately, he aims at understanding the responsibilities involved in eating what we eat.
Any suggestion for other food literature is more than welcome!