Love to read? Ten Books about Food and Farming

For book and reading lovers, winter seems the season most conducive to marathon reading sessions. Yet somehow, during the summer months, those who love reading draw out little bits of time to lose themselves in the written word. Summer months are typically active, dynamic, and border on chaotic. There’s always a book though, to help us folks, drained by humidity and too many picnics. If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer, I recommend any of these ten.

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan: Considered one of the major works in a growing library of books about food and food culture, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is an excellent read about three very different ways of acquiring meals.
  • Folks, This Ain’t Normal, by Joel Salatin: Salatin is proud to call himself a “lunatic farmer,” and his latest book is laden with tirades against the current ways of things, especially regarding land, local food, and individual freedom.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver: This book acted as a hinge between all the books I read before I became interested in food and all the books I read after I became interested in food. Though I haven’t read it in years, it’s still in my library, and I’ve recently lent it to a friend. Many of the details of the book have lost their luster in my memory, but I recall that Kingsolver’s writing through the months of the year and how those months coincide with local food seasons was quite interesting to me.
  • The Unsettling of America, by Wendell Berry: While Salatin (mentioned above) says he’s a farmer who writes, he believes Berry is a writer that farms. Berry is the author of numerous books about agrarian lifestyles, home economics, and the importance of community. The Unsettling of America is one of his most popular books and is a common required read for sustainable agriculture students.
  • Appetite for Profit, by Michele Simon: Simon writes about her experience with and research into many public health agencies and food companies. I experienced a major coincidence while reading this book; I read about Big Soda buying scoreboards for small financially-strapped schools in the same week that Big Soda bought a scoreboard for a local school district currently shouldering a budgetary burden.
  • The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball: The author finds love in farming and in a farmer. This books tells the honest story behind Kimball meeting her husband and how they built quite an impressive farm business together.
  • The Good Life, by Scott and Helen Nearing: This book seems a must for any homesteading library. The Nearings write detailed instructions on how to build stone structures, garden in northern climates, tap sugar maples, and other self-sufficiency skills.
  • Radical Homemakers, by Shannon Hayes: I read this book before attending a Hayes workshop at the Commonground Country Fair last fall. Hayes writes about how reclaiming domesticity should not be considered defeat for contemporary woman, but is a way of empowering a family.
  • Mini Farming, by Brett L. Markham: How to be self-sufficient on a quarter acre?! and it comes with pictures?! Count you in.
  • The Food of a Younger Land, by Mark Kurlansky: The subtitle to this book could easily be “random animals and lots of lard.” While I personally didn’t experiment with many of the recipes in this book, the history of our food culture and the variance between different geographical areas within the states is a worthy topic.

Any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment and let me know some other good books about food and farming – I have a ripe and ready summer up ahead!

Jenna Beaulieu

About Jenna Beaulieu

Jenna is a writer and fine art photographer who recently moved from the Saint John Valley region to Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. She’s a fan of excellent music, homemade gravy, and colored pencils (also, short books and long books, good pens, flannel, and when the June bugs don’t really come out much that year). For more about Jenna and her work, visit her website at www.jennabeaulieu.com