Resetting the Table: Straight Talk About the Food We Grow and Eat

Knopf. Feb. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780525656449. $27.95. AGRI
Paarlberg (emeritus, political science, Wellesley Coll.) provides a clear-eyed look at the present and future of food production. Addressing the movements toward locally grown, organic, and “slow” food, he demonstrates that these will never be sufficiently scalable to meet world food demand. To grow the same amount of food that is produced now, under organic standards, would require bringing far more land into production, much of which would be environmentally sensitive. Industrial farmers today are growing more food on less land, thanks to improvements in precision application of fertilizers and water. Paarlberg places the blame for our current epidemic of obesity and diet-related health problems firmly on the shoulders of food manufacturing, grocery stores, and restaurants for their promotion of unhealthy food. He concludes that commercial farmers did not bring on the food crisis, but they can help to address it by breaking political ranks and siding with progressive attempts to improve dietary health. If farmers were to partner with public health organizations rather than food manufacturers to address food policy, he maintains, the U.S. would have a better chance of reaching our health-related goals.
VERDICT A book that will be of interest to everyone who is concerned about the health effects of food.

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