Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal

HMH Audio. 2021. 1,253p. ISBN 9780358392422. $22.95. HEALTH
Author and food journalist Bittman presents a fascinating analysis of how history has been shaped by humans searching for food and the continuing war against nature. This anthropological study includes a description of the cultural and environmental consequences of the transformation from ancient hunting and gathering to the age of agriculture, and dives into today’s highly industrialized food system. Bittman describes the historical exploitation of land; commercial greed; how the focus on cash crops triggered the American Dust Bowl era; the ravages to the environment caused by human-made chemical fertilizers and pesticides; and the economic disaster forced on family farms by industrialized agribusiness. He ends with a passionate plea to support agriculture that sustains the land, food that genuinely nourishes, and people who want to grow and cook for their communities. Bittman’s clear, steady-paced narration nicely guides erudite listeners through this important contribution to the rapidly growing genre of food activism.
VERDICT Worldwide famine and the collapse of the climate are real, and the author’s stark challenge to change the system or suffer catastrophe is a clarion call. This ardent work will appeal to devotees of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Jared Diamond’s Collapse. Highly recommended for all libraries.
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