Best food books for good growers and eaters

best food booksFood literacy has three dimensions, writes Bill Bellotti. Knowledge about the impact of our food choices on our health. Knowledge about the impact of our food choices on our ecological footprint. And knowledge about the impacts of our food choices on the businesses and communities that grow and provide our food.

We can only eat as good as we know.

Australia’s in a right pickle, schooled in food by Coles (cheap cheap), Woolworths (down down) and corporate food marketing.

So how did we develop food know-how?

Many ways. Some of us learned by growing food; local and seasonal became second nature. Others were taught by mouth, through richness and fullness of flavour. It was handed down in the kitchen or passed around the dinner table. And also, enlightenment by words.

Following is a list of the best food books, as recommended by good growers and eaters. Do you have a book or two to share? Email info AT flavourcrusader DOT com or add it in the comments, below.

Food politics
Eat Your Heart Out by Felicity Lawrence
Recommended by @JulesJamison

The End of Food by Paul Roberts
Recommended by Emma Kate

Food Matters by Mark Bittman
Recommended by @JulianCribb

Food Rules by Michael Pollan
Recommended by Barb Dunford Halloran, @JulianCribb and @HilaryKHarper

Food Wars: The Global Battle for Mouths Minds and Markets by Tim Lang and Michael Heasman
Recommended by @SalFisher19

Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice by Raj Patel
Recommended by @JulianCribb

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester R. Brown
Recommended by Emma Kate

The Global Eating Disorder by Gunnar Rundgren
Recommended by Sissa Wallin

In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
Recommended by @GourmetGardenr, @JulianCribb and @HilaryKHarper

The Landgrabbers by Fred Pearce
Recommended by Emma Kate

Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence
Recommended by @JulesJamison

Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice by Gyorgy Scrinis
Recommended by Sissa Wallin

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Recommended by Mike McDonald, @cmdafonseca, @JulianCribb and @HilaryKHarper

Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner
Recommended by Sissa Wallin

Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform by Raj Patel
Recommended by @JulianCribb

Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair by Carlo Petrini
Recommended by Bill Bellotti

Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System by Raj Patel
Recommended by @JulianCribb

The Walmart Effect by Charles Fishman
Recommended by Mike McDonald

Agri(culture)
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Recommended by Justin Russell, @th3littleredhen, Bel Bird and Paulette Whitney

The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips
Recommended by Justin Russell

Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry
Recommended by @SophLangley

Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat by Isabel Oakeshott and Philip Lymbery
Recommended by @JulesJamison

You can Farm by Joel Salatin
Recommended by Fiona May and @HilaryKHarper

The Fat of the Land by John Seymour
Recommended by Emma Kate

Seasons in my Kitchen Garden by Marcelle Nankervis
Recommended by Fiona May

The Field Guides by Locovore Edition
Recommended by Suzi Fitzpatrick

It’s a Long Road to a Tomato by Keith Stewart
Recommended by Justin Russell

Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn
Recommended by Paulette Whitney

The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming by Jean-Martin Fortier
Recommended by @WallyGuthrie

The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
Recommended by Emma Kate

Permaculture One by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren
Recommended by @JulianCribb

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Recommended by @krandeye

Water for Every Farm by PA Yeomans
Recommended by Emma Kate

What are People For? by Wendell Berry
Recommended by Bill Bellotti

The Third Plate by Dan Barber
Recommended by Suzi Fitzpatrick, Anaïs Gschwind and Jem @ Lost in Utensils

The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt
Recommended by Justin Russell

History and culture
Bold Palates by Barbara Santich
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson
Recommended by @cmdafonseca

Goodbye Culinary Cringe by Cherry Ripe
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

Food – A Culinary History by Flandrin and Montanari
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

Food is Culture by Massimo Montanari
Recommended by @SophLangley

Harvest of the Suburbs: An Environmental History of Growing Food in Australian Cities by Andrea Gaynor
Recommended by Leah Galvin

In the Land of the Magic Pudding by Barbara Santich
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

The History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat
Recommended by @SophLangley

Hungry City by Carolyn Steel
Recommended by @FlavourCrusader

In Praise of Slow by Carl Honoré
Recommended by @HilaryKHarper

One Continuous Picnic: a History of Australian Eating by Michael Symons
Recommended by @FlavourCrusader and Liz Posmyk

Cooking and eating
The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz‎
Recommended by Libby Riches

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham
Recommended by Sissa Wallin

Changing Habits Changing Lives by Cyndi O’Meara
Recommended by Barb Dunford Halloran

Chew On This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson
Recommended by Barb Dunford Halloran

The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon
Recommended by @gourmetgardenr, Liz Posmyk and @JulianCribb

Cooked by Michael Pollan
Recommended by @SophLangley, @JulianCribb and @HilaryKHarper

Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease by Dr. Robert Lustig
Recommended by Sissa Wallin

The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander
Recommended by @krandeye, Liz Posmyk and Paulette Whitney

CWA Classics by Country Women’s Association
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

Diet for a New America by John Robbins
Recommended by Belinda Rankin

It Tastes Better by Kylie Kwong
Recommended by Emma Kate

Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Recommended by @gourmetgardenr

Le Grand Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagne
Recommended by @JulianCribb

The Margaret Fulton Cookbook by Margaret Fulton
Recommended by Sharon Trim

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Recommended by Barb Dunford Halloran

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
Recommended by @SMäkeläinen

Real Food by Nina Plank
Recommended by Paulette Whitney

Real Food Companion by Matthew Evans
Recommended by @gourmetgardenr

The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life
Recommended by @WholeLarderLove

Fiction, memoirs and literary essays
I Sang for my Supper by Margaret Fulton
Recommended by Liz Posmyk

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Recommended by @EatsTheCapital

Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood
Recommended by @SophLangley

On Digestion by Gay Bilson
Recommended by Emma Kate

Plenty by Gay Bilson
Recommended by Emma Kate

Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen, Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen
Recommended by Angel la Vida Loca


cc by 2.0 image by Michael D Beckwith


12 Responses to Best food books for good growers and eaters

  1. I saw the title of this post and got excited! Great choices…The Third Plate is my latest love.

    1. Sharon says:

      So pleased! I haven’t heard of a lot of the books… which is dangerous! I’ll add that to the top :-)

  2. Julian Cribb says:

    New category: best-ever food movies.

    My choices:
    1. Babette’s Feast (1988)
    2. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994)
    3. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
    4. Les Saveurs du Palais (2012)
    5. Fellini’s Satyricon and Roma

    1. Sharon says:

      I love Jiro Dreams of Sushi! I’ll see if I can get another list happening :-)

      1. Julian Cribb says:

        Try and get Babette’s Feast – best food movie ever.

        1. Sharon says:

          I will!

  3. Emma-Kate says:

    On Digestion, Gay Bilson
    Plenty, Gay Bilson
    The Fat of the Land, John Seymour
    It Tastes Better, Kylie Kwong
    The End of Food, Paul Roberts
    Full Planet, Empty Plates, Lester Brown
    The Landgrabbers, Fred Pearce
    The One-Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka
    Water for Every Farm, PA Yeomans

    1. Sharon says:

      Thank you Emma-Kate – so wonderful to have your input!

  4. Great list, some of these I have not heard of… investigating now! Others are fabulous and have long been favourites, including One Continuous Picnic.

    A few suggestions, if I may:

    HISTORY AND CULTURE:
    Goodbye Culinary Cringe by Cherry Ripe
    The History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat
    Bold Palates by Barbara Santich
    Food – A Culinary History by Flandrin and Montanari
    In the Land of the Magic Pudding by Barbara Santich

    COOKING
    The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander
    CWA Classics (a tome published by Penguin)
    The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill
    The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon

    MEMOIRS
    I sang for my supper by Margaret Fulton

    1. Sharon says:

      Thanks Liz! I thought I read the whole Internet and then I discovered Twitter – it’s a bit like that, isn’t it! I’ve listed all, and added your recommendation to One Continuous Picnic. Thanks again.

  5. Mary says:

    Just an FYI, “down down” is Coles. Woolworths is “Fresh”.

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