Summer reading list for foodies

A Michigan State University Librarian compiles a list of insightful community food systems books.

I love to read, and summertime is a great time for reading a book on the front porch or snuggled in the white sands of the Great Lakes. I am interested in community-based food systems and wondered what books I should check out from my local library. There are so many books about food and the local food movement!

I turned to Michigan State University Libraries’ Liaison for Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Hui Hua Chua, for her advice. Below is her list of recommended titles, including a brand-new book on Grand Rapids, Michigan’s local food movement just released this week.

Chua says these links are to the MeL library catalog which includes books in libraries around Michigan. Anyone with a participating public library card can request books from other MeL libraries without charge.

Free books about local food – what is better than that? Happy reading and don’t forget to enjoy some fresh fruits and vegetables from your local farmers market while you turn the pages. (You can visit the Michigan State University Extension website for more information about local farmers markets)

  • Ackerman-Leist, Philip. Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems. A Community Resilience Guide. Santa Rosa, California : White River Junction, Vt: Post Carbon Institute ; Chelsea Green Pub, 2013. 
    Starting by describing the key challenges and reasons for rebuilding local food systems, the author moves on to highlight successful replicable models from the entire spectrum of the local food movement (rural to urban, backyard to large-scale businesses).
  • Blessing, Anna H. Locally Grown: Portraits of Artisanal Farms from America’s Heartland. Chicago, Ill: Midway, 2012.
    Profiles 25 Midwestern farms supplying high-profile Chicago restaurants. Photographs and interviews with farmers and chefs document the close relationship between farm and table. Includes recipes.
  • Cobb, Tanya Denckla. Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub, 2011. 
    With profiles of over 50 food projects around the U.S. complemented with photographic essays, this award-winning book offers inspiration and practical advice on building a local food system.
  • Desrochers, Pierre, and Hiroko Shimizu. The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet. New York: PublicAffairs, 2012. 
    An economic geographer and policy analyst review the history, science and economics of the food system to debunk five myths of locavorism. This book presents a cogent counterpoint to arguments for eating local.
  • Halweil, Brian. Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004 
    This book provides an international perspective by telling the stories of communities from Nebraska to Nairobi to Naples and their efforts to support local farmers and the production, marketing and consumption of local food.
  • Hewitt, Carol Peppe. Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money. Gabriola, BC: New Society Publishers, 2013. 
    Using case studies this work describes the convergence of the slow money and local foods movements.
  • Nabhan, Gary Paul. Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2002. 
    A lyrical meditation on the pleasures of eating local through the seasons by a writer and scientist who decides to eat only foods from within 250 miles of his home.
  • Salatin, Joel. Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front. 1st ed. Swoope, Va. : White River Junction, Vt: Polyface, Inc. ; Distributed by Chelsea Green, 2007. 
    A clear and passionate description of the U.S. food system and how it favors industrial food production at the expense of local producers from Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, one of the best-known contemporary proponents of sustainable, local farming in the U.S.
  • Smith, Alisa, and J. B. MacKinnon. Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Harmony Books, 2007.       
    A chronicle of one British Columbian couple’s decision to eat only items produced within 100 miles of their home for an entire year. Includes seasonal recipes.
  • Starner, Lisa Rose. Grand Rapids Food: a Culinary Revolution. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013
    By a Grand Rapids-based writer and activist, this new book profiles innovative individuals, projects and businesses in the Grand Rapids food community that promote equity and sustainability in the local food system.

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