As somebody who works in food for living, my interest in the subject is insatiable. Over the last few years I’ve actively looked for books and essays that could help me better understand food and the evolving role it plays in nutrition, commerce, policy making and environmental change. Listed below are the top five books I have come to love for many reasons and that have greatly shaped my views on food. Each tells a unique story and sheds light on important matters that require a lot more attention.
- Cooked by Michael Pollan
Written by one of my favourite writers, Cooked takes you through a wonderful journey of food and nature. The references to the elements of nature: Earth, Fire, Wind & Water are significant and add an almost spiritual element to the process of cooking. For those to love food and take pleasure in preparing their meals, this book fans those very feelings while bringing to light some very important issues regarding our food habits today.
2. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell
Whole provides an excellent insight into the Health Care system of America and makes you question your entire understanding of nutrition, health and disease management. The book focuses on Dr. Campbell’s studies on liver cancer and how nutrition can alter the behaviour of its cells in our body. Methodically written, this book is for those to wish to understand the intricacies of nutrition and its effect on the human body.
3. Six Thousand Years of Bread by H. E. Jacob
Six Thousand Years of Bread is a historical rendition of bread and the role it’s played in culture, religion, agriculture, world wars and more. Beginning at the very invention of bread, author H.E. Jacob takes you through an almost poetic pilgrimage of bread, describing every minute aspect of its evolution since then. The book caters to those enthusiastic about bread and keen to understand the complex relationship it shares with mankind.
4. Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss
Salt Sugar Fat is a modern day expose on the workings of the processed food industry. Author Michael Moss draws comparisons to junk food and narcotics, listing down in detail the similar biological effects it has on our bodies. It focuses on the three key ingredients: sugar, fat and salt, and talks about how their manipulation has changed the way we eat today. Extremely informative, Salt Sugar Fat, is brilliant read especially for those that wish to better understanding why our eating patterns are changing.
5. Swallow This by Joanna Bythman
Swallow This explores the dark side of the food processing industry and its products. Stirring away from the regular exposes, it focuses on the supposedly not so harmful food products like ready-to-eat salad, health meals, yoghurts, cereal bars and more. The book has some interesting insights into how food is prepared in industrial kitchens and magnitude of difference in their preparation and preservation methods when compared to a home kitchen. Blythman, a convenience food frequenter like many of us, puts forth an important question that should be on everybody’s mind: what really goes into our food?