Most current fishing practices are neither economically nor biologically sustainable. Every year, the world spends $80 billion buying fish that cost $105 billion to catch, even as heavy fishing places growing pressure on stocks that are already struggling with warmer, more acidic oceans. How have we developed an industry that is so wasteful, and why has it been so difficult to alter the trajectory toward species extinction?
In this transnational, interdisciplinary history, Carmel Finley answers these questions and more as she explores how government subsidies propelled the expansion of fishing from a coastal, in-shore activity into a global industry. While nation states struggling for ocean supremacy have long used fishing as an imperial strategy, the Cold War brought a new emphasis: fishing became a means for nations to make distinct territorial claims. A network of trade policies and tariffs allowed cod from Iceland and tuna canned in Japan into the American market, destabilizing fisheries in New England and Southern California. With the subsequent establishment of tuna canneries in American Samoa and Puerto Rico, Japanese and American tuna boats moved from the Pacific into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans after bluefin. At the same time, government subsidies in nations such as Spain and the Soviet Union fueled fishery expansion on an industrial scale, with the Soviet fleet utterly depleting the stock of rosefish (or Pacific ocean perch) and other groundfish from British Columbia to California. This massive global explosion in fishing power led nations to expand their territorial limits in the 1970s, forever changing the seas.
Looking across politics, economics, and biology, All the Boats on the Ocean casts a wide net to reveal how the subsidy-driven expansion of fisheries in the Pacific during the Cold War led to the growth of fisheries science and the creation of international fisheries management. Nevertheless, the seas are far from calm: in a world where this technologically advanced industry has enabled nations to colonize the oceans, fish literally have no place left to hide, and the future of the seas and their fish stocks is uncertain.
Beth Hoffman was living the good life: she had a successful career as a journalist and professor, a comfortable home in San Francisco, and plenty of close friends and family. Yet in her late 40s, she and her husband decided to leave the big city and move to his family ranch in Iowa—all for the dream of becoming a farmer, to put into practice everything she had learned over decades of reporting on food and agriculture. There was just one problem: money.
Half of America's two million farms made less than $300 in 2019. Between rising land costs, ever-more expensive equipment, the growing uncertainty of the climate, and few options for health care, farming today is a risky business. For many, simply staying afloat is a constant struggle.
Bet the Farm chronicles this struggle through Beth’s eyes as a beginning farmer. She must contend with her father-in-law, who is reluctant to hand over control of the land. Growing oats is good for the environment but ends up being very bad for the wallet. And finding somewhere, in the midst of COVID-19, to slaughter grass-finished beef is a nightmare. The couple also must balance the books, hoping that farming isn’t a romantic fantasy that takes every cent of their savings.
Even with a decent nest egg and access to land, making ends meet at times seems impossible. And Beth knows full well that she is among the privileged. If Beth can’t make it, how can farmers who confront racism, lack access to land, or don’t have other jobs to fall back on? Bet the Farm is a first-hand account of the perils of farming today and a personal exploration of more just and sustainable ways of producing food.
For the first 150 years of their existence, “natural foods” were consumed primarily by body builders, hippies, religious sects, and believers in nature cure. And those consumers were dismissed by the medical establishment and food producers as kooks, faddists, and dangerous quacks. In the 1980s, broader support for natural foods took hold and the past fifteen years have seen an explosion—everything from healthy-eating superstores to mainstream institutions like hospitals, schools, and workplace cafeterias advertising their fresh-from-the-garden ingredients.
Building Nature’s Market shows how the meaning of natural foods was transformed as they changed from a culturally marginal, religiously inspired set of ideas and practices valorizing asceticism to a bohemian lifestyle to a mainstream consumer choice. Laura J. Miller argues that the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the leadership of the natural foods industry. Rather than a simple tale of cooptation by market forces, Miller contends the participation of business interests encouraged the natural foods movement to be guided by a radical skepticism of established cultural authority. She challenges assumptions that private enterprise is always aligned with social elites, instead arguing that profit-minded entities can make common cause with and even lead citizens in advocating for broad-based social and cultural change.
By 2050, the world population is expected to reach nine billion. And the challenge of feeding this rapidly growing population is being made greater by climate change, which will increasingly wreak havoc on the way we produce our food. At the same time, we have lost touch with the soil—few of us know where our food comes from, let alone how to grow it—and we are at the mercy of multinational corporations who control the crops and give little thought to the damage their methods are inflicting on the planet. Our very future is at risk.
In Consumed, Sarah Elton walks fields and farms on three continents, not only investigating the very real threats to our food, but also telling the little-known stories of the people who are working against time to create a new and hopeful future. From the mountains of southern France to the highlands of China, from the crowded streets of Nairobi to the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, we meet people from all walks of life who are putting together an alternative to the omnipresent industrial food system. In the arid fields of rural India we meet a farmer who has transformed her community by selling organic food directly to her neighbors. We visit a laboratory in Toronto where scientists are breeding a new kind of rice seed that they claim will feed the world. We learn about Italy’s underground food movement; how university grads are returning to the fields in China, Greece, and France; and how in Detroit, plots of vacant land planted with kale and carrots can help us see what’s possible.
Food might be the problem, but as Elton shows, it is also the solution. The food system as we know it was assembled in a few decades—and if it can be built that quickly, it can be reassembled and improved in the same amount of time. Elton here lays out the targets we need to meet by the year 2050. The stories she tells give us hope for avoiding a daunting fate and instead help us to believe in a not-too-distant future when we can all sit at the table.
Producing food industrially like we do today causes tremendous global economic losses in terms of malnutrition, diseases, and environmental degradation. But because the food industry does not bear those costs and the price tag for these losses does not show up at the grocery store, it is too often ignored by economists and policymakers.
The Economics of Sustainable Food details the true cost of food for people and the planet. It illustrates how to transform our broken system, alleviating its severe financial and human burden. The key is smart macroeconomic policy that moves us toward methods that protect the environment like regenerative land and sea farming, low-impact urban farming, and alternative protein farming, and toward healthy diets. The book’s multidisciplinary team of authors lay out detailed fiscal and trade policies, as well as structural reforms, to achieve those goals.
Chapters discuss strategies to make food production sustainable, nutritious, and fair, ranging from taxes and spending to education, labor market, health care, and pension reforms, alongside regulation in cases where market incentives are unlikely to work or to work fast enough. The authors carefully consider the different needs of more and less advanced economies, balancing economic development and sustainability goals. Case studies showcase successful strategies from around the world, such as taxing foods with a high carbon footprint, financing ecosystems mapping and conservation to meet scientific targets for healthy biomes permanency, subsidizing sustainable land and sea farming, reforming health systems to move away from sick care to preventive, nutrition-based care, and providing schools with matching funds to purchase local organic produce.
In the years ahead, few issues will be more important for individual prosperity and the global economy than the way we produce our food and what food we eat. This roadmap for reform is an invaluable resource to help global policymakers improve countless lives.
This critical account of the fair trade movement explores the vast gap between the rhetoric of fair trade and its practical results for poor countries, particularly those of Africa. In the Global North, fair trade often is described as a revolutionary tool for transforming the lives of millions across the globe. The growth in sales for fair trade products has been dramatic in recent years, but most of the benefit has accrued to the already wealthy merchandisers at the top of the value chain rather than to the poor producers at the bottom.
Ndongo Sylla has worked for Fairtrade International and offers an insider’s view of how fair trade improves—or doesn’t—the lot of the world’s poorest. His methodological framework first describes the hypotheses on which the fair trade movement is grounded before going on to examine critically the claims made by its proponents. By distinguishing local impact from global impact, Sylla exposes the inequity built into the system and the resulting misallocation of the fair trade premium paid by consumers. The Fair Trade Scandal is an empirically based critique of both fair trade and traditional free trade; it is the more important for exploring the problems of both from the perspective of the peoples of the Global South, the ostensible beneficiaries of the fair trade system.
Fish bones in the caves of East Timor reveal that humans have systematically fished the seas for at least 42,000 years. But in recent centuries, our ancient, vital relationship with the oceans has changed faster than the tides. As boats and fishing technology have evolved, traditional fishermen have been challenged both at sea and in the marketplace by large-scale fishing companies whose lower overhead and greater efficiency guarantee lower prices. In Fishing Lessons, Kevin M. Bailey captains a voyage through the deep history and present course of this sea change—a change that has seen species depleted, ecosystems devastated, and artisanal fisheries transformed into a global industry afloat with hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
Bailey knows these waters, the artisanal fisheries, and their relationship with larger ocean ecology intimately. In a series of place-based portraits, he shares stories of decline and success as told by those at the ends of the long lines and hand lines, channeling us through the changing dynamics of small-scale fisheries and the sustainability issues they face—both fiscal and ecological. We encounter Paolo Vespoli and his tiny boat, the Giovanni Padre,in the Gulf of Naples; Wenche, a sea Sámi, one of the indigenous fisherwomen of Norway; and many more. From salmon to abalone, the Bay of Fundy to Monterey and the Amazon, Bailey’s catch is no fish tale. It is a global story, casting a net across waters as vast and distinct as Puget Sound and the Chilean coast. Sailing across the world, Bailey explores the fast-shifting current of how we gather food from the sea, what we gain and what we lose with these shifts, and potential solutions for the murky passage ahead.
What do we really know about the food we eat? A firestorm of recent food-fraud cases, from the US honey-laundering scandal to the forty-year-old frozen “zombie” meat smuggled into China, to horse-meat episodes in the United Kingdom, suggests fraudulent and intentional acts of food adulteration are on the rise. While often harmless, some incidents have resulted in serious public health consequences. At the heart of these dubious practices are everyone from large food processors to small-time criminals, while many consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about this malfeasance.
In this book, Jonathan Rees examines the complex causes and surprising effects of adulteration and fraud across the global food chain. Covering comestibles of all kinds from around the globe, Rees describes the different types of contamination, the role and effectiveness of government regulation, and our willingness to ignore deception if the groceries we purchase are cheap or convenient. Pithy, punchy, and cogent, Food Adulteration and Food Fraud offers important insight into this vital problem of human consumption.
In recent years, scholars from a variety of disciplines have turned their attention to food to gain a better understanding of history, culture, economics, and society. The emerging field of food studies has yielded a great deal of useful research and a host of publications. Missing, however, has been a focused effort to use gender as an analytic tool. This stimulating collection of original essays addresses that oversight, investigating the important connections between food studies and women's studies.
Applying the insights of feminist scholarship to the study of food, the thirteen essays in this volume are arranged under four headings—the marketplace, histories, representations, and resistances. The editors open the book with a substantial introduction that traces the history of scholarly writing on food and maps the terrain of feminist food studies. In the essays that follow, contributors pay particular attention to the ways in which gender, race, ethnicity, class, colonialism, and capitalism have both shaped and been shaped by the production and consumption of food.
In the first section, four essays analyze the influence of large corporations in determining what came to be accepted as proper meals in the United States, including what mothers were expected to feed their babies. The essays in the second section explore how women have held families together by keeping them nourished, from the routines of an early nineteenth-century New Englander to the plight of women who endured the siege of Leningrad.
The essays in the third section focus on the centrality of gender and race in the formation of identities as enacted through food discourse and practices. These case studies range from the Caribbean to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. The final section documents acts of female resistance within the contexts of national or ethnic oppression. From women in colonial India to Armenian American feminists, these essays show how food has served as a means to assert independence and personal identity.
In addition to the editors, contributors include Amy Bentley, Carole M. Counihan, Darra Goldstein, Nancy Jenkins, Alice P. Julier, Leslie Land, Laura Lindenfield, Beheroze F. Shroff, Sharmila Sen, Laura Shapiro, and Jan Whitaker.
Shanna Farrell loves a good drink. As a bartender, she not only poured spirits, but learned their stories—who made them and how. Living in San Francisco, surrounded by farm-to-table restaurants and high-end bars, she wondered why the eco-consciousness devoted to food didn’t extend to drinks.
The short answer is that we don’t think of spirits as food. But whether it's rum, brandy, whiskey, or tequila, drinks are distilled from the same crops that end up on our tables. Most are grown with chemicals that cause pesticide resistance and pollute waterways, and distilling itself requires huge volumes of water. Even bars are notorious for generating mountains of trash. The good news is that while the good drink movement is far behind the good food movement, it is emerging.
In A Good Drink, Farrell goes in search of the bars, distillers, and farmers who are driving a transformation to sustainable spirits. She meets mezcaleros in Guadalajara who are working to preserve traditional ways of producing mezcal, for the health of the local land, the wallets of the local farmers, and the culture of the community. She visits distillers in South Carolina who are bringing a rare variety of corn back from near extinction to make one of the most sought-after bourbons in the world. She meets a London bar owner who has eliminated individual bottles and ice, acculturating drinkers to a new definition of luxury.
These individuals are part of a growing trend to recognize spirits for what they are—part of our food system. For readers who have ever wondered who grew the pears that went into their brandy or why their cocktail is an unnatural shade of red, A Good Drink will be an eye-opening tour of the spirits industry. For anyone who cares about the future of the planet, it offers a hopeful vision of change, one pour at a time.
It's in There!®
William Morton Hildebolt and Bonnie Bajorek Daneker The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Prego Spaghetti Sauce has been a flagship product in Campbell Soup Company’s portfolio for more than thirty years. This book showcases the creativity, science, and determination that were key to Prego’s development. From the tomato breeding to the recipe formulation to the engineering and mechanical feats necessary for production—not to mention the marketing research and advertising efforts needed to position Prego in the marketplace—It's In There!® is a memoir-based product history of an iconic brand found today in kitchens around the world.
Latin@s’ Presence in the Food Industry takes the holistic culinary approach of bringing together multidisciplinary criticism to explore the diverse, and not always readily apparent, ways that Latin@s relate to food and the food industry.
The networks Latin@s create, the types of identities they fashion through food, and their relationship to the US food industry are analyzed to understand Latin@s as active creators of food-based communities, as distinctive cultural representations, and as professionals. This vibrant new collection acknowledges issues of labor conditions, economic politics, and immigration laws—structural vulnerabilities that certainly cannot be ignored—and strives to understand more fully the active and conscious ways that Latina@s create spaces to maneuver global and local food systems.
Foodborne illness is a big problem. Wash those chicken breasts, and you’re likely to spread Salmonella to your countertops, kitchen towels, and other foods nearby. Even salad greens can become biohazards when toxic strains of E. coli inhabit the water used to irrigate crops. All told, contaminated food causes 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States.
With Outbreak, Timothy D. Lytton provides an up-to-date history and analysis of the US food safety system. He pays particular attention to important but frequently overlooked elements of the system, including private audits and liability insurance.
Lytton chronicles efforts dating back to the 1800s to combat widespread contamination by pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella that have become frighteningly familiar to consumers. Over time, deadly foodborne illness outbreaks caused by infected milk, poison hamburgers, and tainted spinach have spurred steady scientific and technological advances in food safety. Nevertheless, problems persist. Inadequate agency budgets restrict the reach of government regulation. Pressure from consumers to keep prices down constrains industry investments in safety. The limits of scientific knowledge leave experts unable to assess policies’ effectiveness and whether measures designed to reduce contamination have actually improved public health. Outbreak offers practical reforms that will strengthen the food safety system’s capacity to learn from its mistakes and identify cost-effective food safety efforts capable of producing measurable public health benefits.
For most people, grocery shopping is a mundane activity. Few stop to think about the massive, global infrastructure that makes it possible to buy Chilean grapes in a Philadelphia supermarket in the middle of winter. Yet every piece of food represents an interlocking system of agriculture, manufacturing, shipping, logistics, retailing, and nonprofits that controls what we eat—or don’t.
The Problem with Feeding Cities is a sociological and historical examination of how this remarkable network of abundance and convenience came into being over the last century. It looks at how the US food system transformed from feeding communities to feeding the entire nation, and it reveals how a process that was once about fulfilling basic needs became focused on satisfying profit margins. It is also a story of how this system fails to feed people, especially in the creation of food deserts. Andrew Deener shows that problems with food access are the result of infrastructural failings stemming from how markets and cities were developed, how distribution systems were built, and how organizations coordinate the quality and movement of food. He profiles hundreds of people connected through the food chain, from farmers, wholesalers, and supermarket executives, to global shippers, logistics experts, and cold-storage operators, to food bank employees and public health advocates. It is a book that will change the way we see our grocery store trips and will encourage us all to rethink the way we eat in this country.
Benjamin R. Cohen uses the pure food crusades at the turn of the twentieth century to provide a captivating window onto the origins of manufactured foods in the United States.
In the latter nineteenth century, extraordinary changes in food and agriculture gave rise to new tensions in the ways people understood, obtained, trusted, and ate their food. This was the Era of Adulteration, and its concerns have carried forward to today: How could you tell the food you bought was the food you thought you bought? Could something manufactured still be pure? Is it okay to manipulate nature far enough to produce new foods but not so far that you question its safety and health? How do you know where the line is? And who decides?
In Pure Adulteration, Benjamin R. Cohen uses the pure food crusades to provide a captivating window onto the origins of manufactured foods and the perceived problems they wrought. Cohen follows farmers, manufacturers, grocers, hucksters, housewives, politicians, and scientific analysts as they struggled to demarcate and patrol the ever-contingent, always contested border between purity and adulteration, and as, at the end of the nineteenth century, the very notion of a pure food changed.
In the end, there is (and was) no natural, prehuman distinction between pure and adulterated to uncover and enforce; we have to decide. Today’s world is different from that of our nineteenth-century forebears in many ways, but the challenge of policing the difference between acceptable and unacceptable practices remains central to daily decisions about the foods we eat, how we produce them, and what choices we make when buying them.
We live in a world saturated by chemicals—our food, our clothes, and even our bodies play host to hundreds of synthetic chemicals that did not exist before the nineteenth century. By the 1900s, a wave of bright coal tar dyes had begun to transform the Western world. Originally intended for textiles, the new dyes soon permeated daily life in unexpected ways, and by the time the risks and uncertainties surrounding the synthesized chemicals began to surface, they were being used in everything from clothes and home furnishings to cookware and food.
In A Rainbow Palate, Carolyn Cobbold explores how the widespread use of new chemical substances influenced perceptions and understanding of food, science, and technology, as well as trust in science and scientists. Because the new dyes were among the earliest contested chemical additives in food, the battles over their use offer striking insights and parallels into today’s international struggles surrounding chemical, food, and trade regulation.
From the minute it opened—on Christmas Day in 1865—it was Chicago’s must-see tourist attraction, drawing more than half a million visitors each year. Families, visiting dignitaries, even school groups all made trips to the South Side to tour the Union Stock Yard. There they got a firsthand look at the city’s industrial prowess as they witnessed cattle, hogs, and sheep disassembled with breathtaking efficiency. At their height, the kill floors employed 50,000 workers and processed six hundred animals an hour, an astonishing spectacle of industrialized death. Slaughterhouse tells the story of the Union Stock Yard, chronicling the rise and fall of an industrial district that, for better or worse, served as the public face of Chicago for decades. Dominic A. Pacyga is a guide like no other—he grew up in the shadow of the stockyards, spent summers in their hog house and cattle yards, and maintains a long-standing connection with the working-class neighborhoods around them. Pacyga takes readers through the packinghouses as only an insider can, covering the rough and toxic life inside the plants and their lasting effects on the world outside. He shows how the yards shaped the surrounding neighborhoods and controlled the livelihoods of thousands of families. He looks at the Union Stock Yard’s political and economic power and its sometimes volatile role in the city’s race and labor relations. And he traces its decades of mechanized innovations, which introduced millions of consumers across the country to an industrialized food system.
Once the pride and signature stench of a city, the neighborhood is now home to Chicago’s most successful green agriculture companies. Slaughterhouse is the engrossing story of the creation and transformation of one of the most important—and deadliest—square miles in American history.
The Slow Food movement was set up in Italy as a response to the dominance of fast food chains, supermarkets and large-scale agribusiness. It seeks to defend what it calls 'the universal right to pleasure' and promotes an alternative approach to food production and consumption based on the promotion of 'good, clean and fair' local products.
This is the first in-depth study of the fascinating politics of Slow Food, which in twenty years has grown into an international organisation with more than 80,000 members in over 100 countries. With its roots in the 1960s and 1970s counter-culture, Slow Food's distinctive politics lie in the unity between gastronomic pleasure and environmental responsibility. The movement crosses the left-right divide to embrace both the conservative desire to preserve traditional rural communities and an alternative 'virtuous' idea of globalisation.
Geoff Andrews shows that the alternative future embodied in Slow Food extends to all aspects of modern life. The Slow Food Story presents an extensive new critique of fast-moving, work-obsessed contemporary capitalist culture.
More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are over 112,000 obesity-related deaths annually, and for many years, the government has waged a very public war on the problem. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona warned in 2006 that “obesity is the terror within,” going so far as to call it a threat that will “dwarf 9/11.”
What doesn’t get mentioned in all this? The fact that the federal government helped create the obesity crisis in the first place—especially where it is strikingly acute, among urban African-American communities. Supersizing Urban America reveals the little-known story of how the U.S. government got into the business of encouraging fast food in inner cities, with unforeseen consequences we are only beginning to understand. Chin Jou begins her story in the late 1960s, when predominantly African-American neighborhoods went from having no fast food chain restaurants to being littered with them. She uncovers the federal policies that have helped to subsidize that expansion, including loan guarantees to fast food franchisees, programs intended to promote minority entrepreneurship, and urban revitalization initiatives. During this time, fast food companies also began to relentlessly market to urban African-American consumers. An unintended consequence of these developments was that low-income minority communities were disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic.
In the first book about the U.S. government’s problematic role in promoting fast food in inner-city America, Jou tells a riveting story of the food industry, obesity, and race relations in America that is essential to understanding health and obesity in contemporary urban America.
Gus Flesor came to the United States from Greece in 1901. His journey led him to Tuscola, Illinois, where he learned the confectioner's trade and opened a business that still stands on Main Street. Sweet Greeks sets the story of Gus Flesor's life as an immigrant in a small town within the larger history of Greek migration to the Midwest.
Ann Flesor Beck's charming personal account recreates the atmosphere of her grandfather's candy kitchen with its odors of chocolate and popcorn and the comings-and-goings of family members. "The Store" represented success while anchoring the business district of Gus's chosen home. It also embodied the Midwest émigré experience of chain migration, immigrant networking, resistance and outright threats by local townspeople, food-related entrepreneurship, and tensions over whether later generations would take over the business.
An engaging blend of family memoir and Midwest history, Sweet Greeks tells how Greeks became candy makers to the nation, one shop at a time.
A number of recent books, magazines, and television programs have emerged that promise to take viewers inside the exciting world of professional chefs. While media suggest that the occupation is undergoing a transformation, one thing remains clear: being a chef is a decidedly male-dominated job. Over the past six years, the prestigious James Beard Foundation has presented 84 awards for excellence as a chef, but only 19 were given to women. Likewise, Food and Wine magazine has recognized the talent of 110 chefs on its annual “Best New Chef” list since 2000, and to date, only 16 women have been included. How is it that women—the gender most associated with cooking—have lagged behind men in this occupation?
Taking the Heat examines how the world of professional chefs is gendered, what conditions have led to this gender segregation, and how women chefs feel about their work in relation to men. Tracing the historical evolution of the profession and analyzing over two thousand examples of chef profiles and restaurant reviews, as well as in-depth interviews with thirty-three women chefs, Deborah A. Harris and Patti Giuffre reveal a great irony between the present realities of the culinary profession and the traditional, cultural associations of cooking and gender. Since occupations filled with women are often culturally and economically devalued, male members exclude women to enhance the job’s legitimacy. For women chefs, these professional obstacles and other challenges, such as how to balance work and family, ultimately push some of the women out of the career.
Although female chefs may be outsiders in many professional kitchens, the participants in Taking the Heat recount advantages that women chefs offer their workplaces and strengths that Harris and Giuffre argue can help offer women chefs—and women in other male-dominated occupations—opportunities for greater representation within their fields.
Imagine eating a burger grown in a laboratory, a strawberry picked by a robot, or a pastry created with a 3-D printer. You would never taste the difference, but these technologies might just save your health and the planet’s. Today, landmark advances in computing, engineering, and medicine are driving solutions to the biggest problems created by industrialized food.
Tech to Table introduces readers to twenty-five of the most creative entrepreneurs advancing these solutions. They come from various places and professions, identities and backgrounds. But they share an outsider’s perspective and an idealistic, sometimes aggressive, ambition to rethink the food system.
Reinvention is desperately needed. Under Big Ag, pollution, climate change, animal cruelty, hunger, and obesity have festered, and despite decades of effort, organic farming accounts for less than one percent of US croplands. Entrepreneurs represent a new path, one where disruptive technology helps people and the environment. These innovations include supplements to lower the methane in cattle belches, drones that monitor irrigation levels in crops, urban warehouses that grow produce year-round, and more.
The pace and breadth of change is astonishing, as investors pump billions of dollars into ag-innovation. Startups are attracting capital and building markets, with the potential to upend conventional agribusiness’s stranglehold on the food system. Not every invention will prosper long-term, but each marks a fundamental change in our approach to feeding a growing population—sustainably.
A revolution in how we grow and eat food is brewing. Munson’s deftly crafted profiles offer a fascinating preview of the coming future of food.
Ai Hisano reveals how the food industry capitalized on color, fashioning a visual vocabulary that shapes what we think of the food we eat. Our perceptions of what food should look like have changed dramatically as scientists, farmers, food processors, regulators, and marketers established a new, and highly engineered, version of the “natural.”
It’s been 111 years since the publication of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking book on the cattle industry. Though improvements in animal welfare have been made since then, the industry has evolved to include issues Sinclair could never have foreseen. In What’s the Matter with Meat, Katy Keiffer leads readers though a crash course on how this powerful multinational business has been able to generate such a bountiful supply of absurdly cheap animal proteins.
What’s the Matter with Meat? explores everything from labor issues to genetic manipulation to animal welfare to environmental degradation, illustrating just how the industrial model for meat production conjures up huge quantities of cheap meat even as it shifts many of the real costs onto the taxpayer. She describes practices few of us know about, such as land grabs in which predator companies acquire property in foreign countries for meat production, often driving out local farmers. She shows how industry consolidation entrenches cost-effective but harmful practices, creating monopolies that force competitors out of business, drive down labor costs, erode workers’ rights, and exert extraordinary power over nearby communities.
Keiffer demonstrates with irrefutable force that the current model for meat production—adopted worldwide—is simply not sustainable and will soon exhaust the planet’s resources. A hard-hitting critique of the meat industry and its harmful effects, this book shows us just how important it is to care about where our food comes from, to support alternative production systems, and to stop those practices that are ruining our planet in the service of the burger and the nugget.