Free winter break reading list for foodies

Read up on local and national food systems issues by checking out these library books.

When the snow is falling and the hours of daylight are limited, there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a good book. It is even better when that book is free! The following is a list of interesting books for local food lovers compiled by Hui Hua Chua, a librarian with Michigan State University

Michigan State University Extension encourages residents to learn more about how our food is grown, processed, packaged, prepared and composted. This reading list is a great start to learning more about these topics. The links listed below are to the MeL library catalog, which includes books in libraries around the entire State of Michigan. If your library doesn’t have a book you desire on the shelf, anyone with a participating academic or public library card can request books from other MeL libraries without charge. 

Cleveland, David Arthur. Balancing on a Planet: The Future of Food and Agriculture. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 2014.
“David Cleveland does more than just set out his view of the future of agrifood systems in a world of scarce resources; he provides the reader with the tools to make up her own mind, and arrive at her own conclusions.” —Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food 

Elton, Sarah. Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet. Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Elton travels around the world to meet farmers and tell the stories of producers trying to create an alternative to the industrial food system, as well as to investigate challenges to the global food supply.

Hundt, Linda. Sweetie-Licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life. Guilford, Connecticut: Skirt!, 2013.
A 2014 Michigan Notable Book Award winner, with stores in Dewitt and Grand Rapids, award-winning pie-maker “…Linda Hundt believes deeply in the ability of pies to spread goodwill, one bite at a time. In this cookbook she shares the heartwarming stories behind 52 of her signature creations. Each recipe will inspire you to make pies (using only the freshest ingredients) that are sure to become your own family favorites”—P. [2] of cover

Link, Mardi. Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm. First edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Another 2014 Michigan Notable Book Award winner, this tough, honest, humorous memoir tells former journalist Link’s story of her attempt to save the family farm and make a living for herself and her three sons. “Inspirational and funny in the I-might-as-well-laugh-or-I-think-I’ll-cry sort of way.”  —Detroit Free Press   

Linton, April. Fair Trade from the Ground up: New Markets for Social Justice. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012.
Linton (Statistical Tools and Survey Manager at the Fair Labor Association) documents and evaluates fair trade’s impact and accomplishments, using published studies and new case studies and surveys to offer a balanced qualitative and quantitative overview of the fair trade movement.

Loomis, Bill. Detroit Food: Coney Dogs to Farmers Markets. Charleston, SC: American Palate, a division of The History Press, 2014.
An examination by a local author and historian of the reviving food scene in Detroit, and its role in Detroit’s revitalization. Illustrated with photos.

Martin, Daniella. Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet. Boston: New Harvest, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Martin examines edible insects, their proponents and consumers around the world, in this easy to read travelogue-manifesto about an alternative food source for a growing global population. 

Paarlberg, Robert L. Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York, N.Y: Oxford University Press, 2010 and 2013 (2nd ed).
”…addresses key questions about agriculture, including consumers’ concerns about food safety, producers’ concerns about price volatility, and taxpayers’ concerns about subsidies. Paarlberg organizes his material around a long list of questions about food policies and practices…His answers to these and many other questions are accessible and nuanced.”—Foreign Affairs 

Tumber, Catherine. Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World. Urban and Industrial Environments. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2012.
The author visits 25 once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities in the Northeast to the Midwest (including Detroit) interviewing planners, city officials, and activists in this exploration of small-scale urbanism, and its potential to create a sustainable and productive green economy.

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