Serious Reads

Reviews of food-themed memoirs, beach reads, and histories.

Serious Reads: 5 Food Books We're Loving

1. Eating on the Wild Side, by Jo Robinson

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Jo Robinson believes in eating whole foods —and even raising your own varieties of vegetables and fruits to fill out a healthy diet. In Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, she indexes dozens of types of produce and highlights their nutritional benefits. Her philosophy of eating close to the earth is grounded in the idea that low-impact diets will lead to better general health. She backs up her claims with nutritional and agricultural research.

2. From the Ground Up, by Jeanne Nolan

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When Jeanne Nolan joined the Zendik Farm commune right after her 18th birthday, she was escaping what she perceived to be a restrictive and materialistic home life in Chicago. After nearly twenty years on the "cult-like" organic farm, she headed back home to live with her parents, her young daughter in tow. In From the Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love, and the Movement that's Changing the Nation, Nolan takes us through her struggles at the commune, difficulty readjusting to life in the big city, and how she translated her love of organic farming into a career planting gardens for schools, families, and community centers. Her memoir is gritty and inspiring, simultaneously rubbing the sheen off the organic farming movement while also reveling in the joys of growing your own food.

3. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights, by David E. Gumpert

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David Gumpert is known for his work investigating the regulation of raw milk consumption and production in the U.S. In Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat, he delves deeper into the world of food regulation. Gumpert highlights how farmers and producers across the country are punished for being unable to comply with complicated food safety laws, and challenges the notion that the only safe foods are those approved by government agencies. With a decidedly contrarian bent, and with compelling evidence, this book posits that perhaps we don't have as many rights to our food system as we think.

4. The True History of Chocolate, by Michael D. Coe and Sophie D. Coe

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Chocolate is such a staple of American life that it's hard to imagine a time before candy bars were available at every cash register. In The True History of Chocolate, Michael and Sophie Coe take us back to the very beginnings of chocolate discovery. From the Aztecs to modern-day legal battles and ethical considerations in chocolate production, this book is a serious historical text for those interested in knowing more—much more—about everyone's favorite dessert.

5. Farmacology, by Daphne Miller M.D.

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Daphne Miller noticed a trend among some of the patients in her family medicine practice: often, dietary changes helped them recover from seemingly unrelated illnesses. She set out on a pilgrimage to several sustainable growing operations to find out what links she could discover between healthy diet and medical fitness. In Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, she provides plenty of tips and recommendations for helping families move beyond the standard American diet and into more holistic health-focused food choices.

About the Author:Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her other work can be found at her website.

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