Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report) Books on Food and the Food Industry

Some of you have asked about my inspiration for Community Supported Agriculture. Here is my suggested reading list of books about food and the food industry.  Some light and lyrical and some with stark depictions of slaughterhouse waste. Regardless, they will change the way you view your next meal.

1. Coming Home to Eat by Gary Nabhan.  This is where it began. When I heard Gary’s interview on NPR in 2001, I was immediately drawn to his philosophy of eating locally. Though I’ve still never supped on roadkill, Nabhan inspired me to harvest mesquite trees, eat tepiary beans, and pick cactus fruit.  And in keeping with local preference, he’s an Arizona guy.

2. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.  Presented to me by my darling husband, Schlosser documents the costs to our health and our culture of a diet and an industry based upon cheap, fast meals.

3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  The Penn Reading Project identified this as required for incoming freshmen in 2007.  I often reference their list for my own reading selections and hence, that’s when I read it. I believe the explanations of an industry evolved and consumer demands are provocative. This also comes as a large CD set for the road warriors.

4. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman, Kim Barnouin. I burned through this fast read on a flight home from NYC. The writers are foul-mouthed vegans with sound nutritional advice and explicit details of slaughterhouses. In the end they are forthright and admit that they are not bitches but created the title to sell books. I admire their honesty.

5. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  I love the format of this book. Barbara describes her journey of a year of local eating while her husband’s narrative offers the reasons for doing so. Kingsolver’s daughter also peppers the book with recipe successes enjoyed during the year.

6. The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids by Michael Pollan.  Imagine my 13 year old son’s delight when he opened this Christmas present.  Despite his grimace, I feel accomplished as he now describes how everything he eats is made of corn from the feed given to chickens to the coating on them when served.  One small win for momkind.

7. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle.  I’m a convicted Peter Mayle fan and have read everything he’s written.  I love his witty yet poetic descriptions of home repair, community and yes, food. Other French food books by Mayle include Encore Provence and Toujours Provence.

8. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II. In full disclosure, I’ve not finished this yet. It is a data packed discourse on how food choice affects health. For me, principle #8 sums it up; good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence – all parts are interconnected.

9. A Language Older than Words by Derrick Jensen. This disturbing portrait of human behavior is not really a food book. Rather Jensen highlights connections to what we eat and where we live. In one chapter, he describes how killing his own chicken made him a more conscious consumer. His hard questioning lets us know that things can be better than they are.

10.  The Lives of Animals by J.M. Coetzee.  This is the only fiction on my list. That said, it is fiction with moral conviction and it inspires emotion. I read this with a group of extremely talented and literate individuals from the Kelly Writer’s House.  I was challenged by both content and discussion.

What have you read that if shared might inspire others?

Leave a comment


  1. Lisa H

     /  February 2, 2010

    Eating organic can become extremely expensive, especially these days when money is so tight. After reading To Buy or Not to Buy Organic: What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food by Cindy Burke, it really drove home the difference between organic, pesticide-free, local and imported. She even developed a calculation to help determine the actual cost of the produce we buy. Included is a helpful list of organic Must-Buy (strawberries, apples) and those that don’t necessarily need to be organic (broccoli). Her book is a quick read without telling us how to eat or what to buy, but rather a resource book to help us make a decision when standing in the supermarket trying to decide how best to feed our family.

  2. Kelley

     /  February 3, 2010

    I love the t3! Very clever.

    A good follow up for me after reading “Omnivore’s Dilemma” was Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food.” Here he continues with what we should eat: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He points out that we as human we used to know how to eat properly, but don’t anymore. In order to improve our health we should go back to traditional foods and ways of eating. This includes avoiding processed foods and not eating anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. This is must-read for anyone who cares about what they’re eating and about their health.

  3. I agree – I’m in the middle of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and it exposes the current state of agriculture and food production and presents a very convincing argument for not ever eating fast food again… I’m reading this book on the tails of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” which I adored and found very inspiring as well — I joined a CSA this winter and haven’t looked back since! Thanks for the additional suggestions.

  4. I am inspired and can’t wait to get reading! Thank you Tammy for drawing my attention to this subject and offering so many great books to learn from. I’m going to start with Coming Home to Eat.
    As far as books to offer, I remember reading Diet for a Small Planet and finding it well written. It’s an old one but still relevant.

    • Victoria,
      Thanks for stopping by. I struggled with the top 10 list and Diet for a Small Planet was definitely on the list of books that I’d suggest but didn’t include. Thank you.

  5. “Diet for a New America” by John Robbins was the first book I read which introduced me to the health and environmental argument against meat eating. Before I read that book, I was a vegetarian for spiritual reasons rather than health or environmental ones.

    PS: T3 Report = great concept! Looking forward to more of these…

  6. I think the list is great. A book I have read concerning CSA’s is Sharing the Harvest and I recommend it for anyone looking into joining or starting a CSA. Another one, which I have not read, but is endorsed by Derrick Jenson, is The Vegetarian Myth. I assume it is worth the read considering his past writing ventures. For a great blog, and a link to The Vegetarian Myth, check out Realfoodblog.com.


  7. Sarah

     /  February 24, 2010


    Love the reading material! There are so many good suggestions. I am ready Omnivore Dilemma right now and I love all the other options you offered!

    My husband and I opted out of a CSA this year. We are building 3 square foot gardens and farmers marketing it. It will be the largest garden I have ever had…but it should be interesting. My mother-in-law is actively utilizing the concepts of animal vegetable miracle…so my inspiration.

    Thank you for the reading post!

  8. I devoured the Omnivore’s Dilemma – it was fascinating, and compelling. I’m a Mayle fan, too. My favorite of his is probably French Lessons.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. I’m excited to read some of these – I’ve read a few, and had others recommended. I also enjoyed The End of Food.

    • Yes. Whenever I hit the send button on a top ten list, I immediately think of my 11th and 12th choices. Thanks for visiting my blog.


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