I always have a pile of books on my bedside table, but I never seem to get to the bottom of the pile before I add more to the top. This is the kind of stuff I like to read – books about the food system, the problems with it and suggestions for how to fix it. For me, a good food book has a good balance of politics, information and options for practical action. And lots of simple recipes! I’ve written up the ultimate reading list for home cooks who care about food, what goes into it, how it’s prepared and how to make sure our supply of it is sustainable into the future.
Supermarket Monsters – Malcolm Knox has turn a journalistic eye on the big two supermarkets. This is not a long book, nor a hard one to plough though, but it certainly makes a good case for going supermarket-free.
Michael Pollan – Since his first food book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, just about everything he has written about food and food systems is good. He is a big thinker and an advocate of healthy and sustainable food. Try In Defence of Food for a meaty read and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual if you need something lighter and good for a laugh. His latest, Cooked, is for every food nerd and anyone who cares about food culture.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from River Cottage has written my favourite cook book of all time Veg Everyday. I would use some element of this book everyday. I love its philosophy. The vegetarian recipes are simple – and written for meat eaters. Everyday is similarly inspiring and Three Good Things has ideas for when you are in a culinary rut.
Joanna Bythman‘s books turn a forensic eye on food politics in the UK. What to Eat is a fantastic guide to balancing all the complicated priorities food buyers have. This is a UK book and parts of it aren’t relevant, but the strategies she uses to think through various choices are.
Marion Nestle is the leading light on food politics in the US. All her books on human food are sound, but if you have pets and care about sustainability, she has written some illuminating books about pet food.
Mark Bittman is as big a thinker as Pollan but is also a cookery writer so he is able to provide practical solutions for big problems
Jamie Oliver – I know lots of people don’t like him because of his connections to supermarkets, but I admire his strategy of trying to encourage healthy cooking and eating within that environment.
If I’ve missed anything out feel free to leave your suggestions in the the comments below.
I have an affiliate relationship with Booktopia – which means if you do check out any of these books and decide to buy I will get a teensy commission. However, this won’t change the price for you 🙂 If you are from overseas, they are all available from My Amazon Store too.