The Politics of Food: List by Nick Saul & Andrea Curtis

Book Cover The Stop

"It began as a food bank. It turned into a movement." Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis are authors of The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement. Here, they share some of their favourite books about the politics of food.

In our house, we devour books about food. Cookbooks, kids’ books, odes to the tomato, the apple, the cow or cod. We’d read poems about tofu if there were such a thing. (Anyone?) But it’s not just because we like to eat—though we do—it’s more because food is connected to so many other things we care about. Things like community, health, the environment and social justice. We’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. What follows is a list of some of our favourite Canadian books that see food in this integrated way—not just as fuel for the body but a tool for building a more just and sustainable world.

Book Cover No Nonsense GUide to World Food

The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food by Wayne Roberts:

Former head of the Toronto Food Policy Council, Roberts is one Canada’s good food gurus. This pocket-sized tour through the history and ideas behind our current international food system is easy and even fun to read because Roberts has a knack for bringing this complex system and its myriad issues down to size.

City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing by Lorraine Johnson:

Johnson might be best known of late as the Renegade Chicken Lady, who has raised hens in her downtown backyard despite Toronto bylaws that prohibit such animal husbandry. But she is also an engaging and spirited writer and advocate for urban agriculture. This book chronicles her own efforts at growing food in the city as well as the adventures of other guerilla and community gardeners. With an optimistic message and useful sidebars (beneficial insects, soil safety) it’s a great introduction to the green possibilities of the concrete jungle.

Book Cover Consumed

Consumed: Sustainable Food for a Finite Planet by Sarah Elton:

From the award-winning author of Locavore comes this prescient and important new book about the future of food in a world of 9 billion people. Elton talks to people all over the world (India, China, France) who are coming up with local and sustainable alternatives to the industrial food system and offers both a cautionary tale and an immensely hopeful one.

Book Cover Outside the Box

Outside the Box: Why Our Children Need Real Food, Not Food Products by Jeannie Marshall:

Moving to Italy and raising her young son in Rome, Marshall comes up against the changing food system as she discovers how rapidly even the richest, most established food cultures are being eroded by industrial, packaged products. In this highly readable book that is also a call to action, she explores the power and potential of reclaiming food culture for our kids, our families and our communities.

The Edible City: Toronto’s Food from Farm to Fork edited by Christina Palassio and Alana Wilcox:

Tracking the food landscape in Toronto from coffee joints to contraband eggs, from school food to the politics of race in the food security movement, the contributors to this diverse collection present a fascinating portrait of a changing city. It’s a reminder, as the editors note, that food is “one of those rare arenas where politics and pleasure can intersect.”

Book Cover Good Food For All

Good Food for All: Seasonal Recipes from a Community Garden:

We may be slightly biased, but this cookbook, produced by The Stop Community Food Centre, is one of our great go-to sources for simple and delicious everyday recipes. (Not to be missed: spice rubbed chicken; lentil and carrot soup.) But it’s also about more than just cooking. Structured around the seasons and the four pillars of the Community Food Centre (justice, health, community and the environment), it tells the story of how The Stop is bringing low-income people into the food movement.

Book Cover Empires of Food

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations by Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas:

This ingenious collaboration between an academic and a journalist places food at the centre of history. Fraser and Rimas weave together the story of a 16th century merchant with the rise and fall of various food empires (ancient Mesopotamia, imperial Britain) to forge an alarming tale about the tottering food system we’ve built for the 21st century.

Food Banks and the Welfare Crisis by Graham Riches:

Back in 1986 when this tough book about the problem with food banks was first published, food banking was in its infancy in Canada. Today, Riches’ critique of charitable food handouts as representing the failure of our social safety net and government’s retreat from responsibility for its citizens still rings true. The UBC professor emeritus continues to write about the issues surrounding hunger, increasingly tackling the troubling interconnection between food banking and corporations.

Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis

Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis’s book, The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement has just been published by Random House. Nick Saul is the President and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada, an organization working to bring low-income people into the conversation about the power of food. Andrea Curtis is an award-winning author whose first children’s book, What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World came out in the fall of 2012. Nick and Andrea live in Toronto with their two boys.

Follow on twitter: @aplaceforfood and @TheStopCFC and check out Andrea's blog.

April 4, 2013
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