Resources

No one can know it all, so these are my suggestions on other writers, organizations, and interesting people that are working on similar issues. I may not agree with everything they do, but for the most part, I think they are on the right track.

 

Simply want to know more?

If you aren't ready to dive into scientific journals or policy briefs and simply want to know more about current issues surrounding food production and farming in the US, these websites are good places to start.

Sustainable Table is a great one-stop source for information on farming practices, food/farm related environmental issues, and resources to help you put your new ideals into practice. They even have recipes.

Food and Water Watch has a little more in-depth information on the latest research and policy-development related to the safety, accessibility, and sustainability of the food (including fish) and water we consume. Their factory farm map project is a good place to start learning about factory farms in the US.

Are videos more your thing?

Check out the Meatrix. Let this Matrix spoof turn movie-characters into your favorite farm-yard teachers. "MOO-fious" the coolest cow on the block is waitng for you.

Food, Inc. is a film that talks about how food production in the United States has shifted to favor mechanized, production-focused methods and is now controlled by just a hand-full of large companies. He tries to show how this has changed our access to quality food and how it may be impacting our health.

Now, this next one isn't just about food. It is more about how food issues can fit into the larger picture of our environment and climate. This is an hour long video of a presentation given by Winona LaDuke (a writer, activist, and environmentalist from an indigenous tribe in Northern Minnesota) on Food, Energy, and Sustainability. She shows how her work to re-create a local food and energy economy can help to serve as a solution to climate change and environmental degradation. This example can serve as an illustration of a plan for how other communities can make meaningful changes by rebuilding local relationships.

Or am I not the only book-reader left in the world?

Good old-fashioned black-and-white text will always have a special place in my heart. If you lean towards this side of the spectrum, then these books are a good place to start.

It is hard not to talk about food-realated books and not mention Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. Both are prolific in their respective fields and don't need more publicity from me. I think they have done some good things, however, and it would be a shame not to mention them. Ms. Waters' books lean more towards cooking and recipes but they are a great place to start if those new farmer's market food finds are leaving you perplexed when it comes time to cook them. Mr. Pollan, on the other hand, talks more about the production side of our food system and helps place the information in a practical context. So, his writing might help you understand how your food choices impact the greater community around you.

Barbara Kingslover is a biologist and a writer who's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle follows the author and her family through a year-long adventure of local eating. It is full of recipes and garden descriptions and the tiny details of her all consuming experience. Even if she is, at times, a bit heavy-handed when talking about the joys of local eating, it is a practical and surprising narrative that is worth a read.

John Robbins is another author worth mentioning even though I hesitate to list him. His book The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life And Our World is a thorough, well-sited argument for plausible changes Americans can make to change the way they eat and how those changes would impact their health and the environment. I hesitate to list the book here though because, unlike many of the resources listed here, this one unabashedly argues for a specific diet change. It argues for a purely plant-based diet. However, aside from the use of quotes out of context, it is a solid book with lots of good information. It should just be read with a grain of salt.

I mentioned Winona LaDuke in the video section above, but her power as a writer is just as strong as her speaking abilities. She isn't focused on food alone; she has managed to incorporate food issues into her work to serve as solutions to health issues, environmental issues, and even economic issues in her community in Northern Minnesota. Much of her work can serve as an example of how food can fit into a larger picture. For a short read, check out Sustainable Tribal Economies: A Guide to Restoring Energy and Food Sovereignty in Native America by one of the organizations, Honor Earth, where she serves as Executive Director. LaDuke's book, The Winona LaDuke Reader: A Collection of Essential Writings, is also a good place to start.

For a completely different spin on things, it cannot be forgotten that food comes from land. So, with that in mind, it is impossible to separate food from the study of ecology (the study of how living things relate to each other and their surroundings.) Dirt, roots, leaves, bugs, animals, and water are all part of the process that allows us to create food. For an inspiring look at how this living community of ours works and discussions on how humans should fit into this equation, Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac is an invaluable read. Along a similar vein, Wendell Berry's Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food, will wrangle your mind into thinking about land and food and their intrinsic relationship.

Ready to change the way you buy food?

These two guides will help make the transition from the grocery to the many other places you can buy food a little easier. Learn about the great places that have been hiding in your backyard.

The Eat Well Guide is an online database of stores, restaurants, farmers, inns, and other businesses that sell sustainable produce, meat, or dairy products. You can search by city, state, or zip code to find good places to spend your money wherever you are.

Localharvest.org is another searchable database of farms, markets, restaurants, and stores that sell sustainable food near you.