81 books like Magic Bean

By Matthew Roth,

Here are 81 books that Magic Bean fans have personally recommended if you like Magic Bean. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with the science and psychology behind sugar addiction ever since I started graduate school at Princeton University. When I was deciding what to study for my dissertation. I knew my topic needed to be something big, important, and meaningful. At the time, we were starting to hear about the dangers of obesity, and I wondered if it was due to our changing food environment, which had more and more sugar in it. I never would have imagined that this project would lead me to over 20 years of research. Learn all about it in my book Sugarless

Nicole's book list on science and psychology of food addiction from a distinguished neuroscientist and nutrition expert

Nicole Avena Why did Nicole love this book?

Fast food is everywhere you turn nowadays, which makes Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser such an important read for people of all ages and backgrounds. While reading, I was continuously fascinated to find out how ugly and disturbing the truth is behind America’s fast-food system.

With the obesity epidemic on the rise, I truly hope all children, adults, and older adults read this book and use the truth it teaches to change their lives for the better.

By Eric Schlosser,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Fast Food Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Now the subject of a film by Richard Linklater, Eric Schlosser's explosive bestseller Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World tells the story of our love affair with fast food.

Britain eats more fast food than any other country in Europe. It looks good, tastes good, and it's cheap. But the real cost never appears on the menu.

Eric Schlosser visits the lab that re-creates the smell of strawberries; examines the safety records of abattoirs; reveals why the fries really taste so good and what lurks between the sesame buns - and shows how fast…


Book cover of The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business

Chloe Sorvino Author Of Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed, and the Fight for the Future of Meat

From my list on the meat industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an investigative journalist who focuses on the intersection of finance, wealth accounting, and climate change. I head up food and agriculture coverage at Forbes, and have been reporting on the wealth and power hiding within the food industry for nearly a decade. I’ve been called a billionaire whisperer, and have a knack for getting folks to talk. Based in New York City, I’m a member of a Lower East Side community-supported agriculture share and keep composting worms on my terrace garden. 

Chloe's book list on the meat industry

Chloe Sorvino Why did Chloe love this book?

This book, in many ways, is the spiritual grandfather to mine. Christopher Leonard is a pioneer: He went to a level of detail that no one had before. His deep investigation of Tyson Foods is a formative example of how corporations pick profits over their farmers and use their power to exert control over producers, workers, and suppliers. It has informed my research time and time again. 

By Christopher Leonard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Meat Racket as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An investigative journalist takes you inside the corporate meat industry—a shocking, in-depth report every American should read.

How much do you know about the meat on your dinner plate? Journalist Christopher Leonard spent more than a decade covering the country’s biggest meat companies, including four years as the national agribusiness reporter for the Associated Press. Now he delivers the first comprehensive look inside the industrial meat system, exposing how a handful of companies executed an audacious corporate takeover of the nation’s meat supply.

Leonard’s revealing account shines a light on the inner workings of Tyson Foods, a pioneer of the…


Book cover of Slow Cooked: An Unexpected Life in Food Politics

Chloe Sorvino Author Of Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed, and the Fight for the Future of Meat

From my list on the meat industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an investigative journalist who focuses on the intersection of finance, wealth accounting, and climate change. I head up food and agriculture coverage at Forbes, and have been reporting on the wealth and power hiding within the food industry for nearly a decade. I’ve been called a billionaire whisperer, and have a knack for getting folks to talk. Based in New York City, I’m a member of a Lower East Side community-supported agriculture share and keep composting worms on my terrace garden. 

Chloe's book list on the meat industry

Chloe Sorvino Why did Chloe love this book?

Marion Nestle is an iconic advocate for a better food system, and all of her 15 books should be read. My book quotes her 2020 Let’s Ask Marion extensively — and her perspective on shareholder returns has particularly informed my work. I refer back to her books and popular newsletter, Food Politics, all the time. But Slow Cooked is the direct line to her brain, and is as wry and personal as it is crucial to understanding the nutritional deficiency built throughout the industrialized food sector. 

By Marion Nestle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slow Cooked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A chronicle of hard work and a public health resource, Slow Cooked is also proof that it's never too late."-New York Times

Marion Nestle reflects on her late-in-life career as a world-renowned food politics expert, public health advocate, and a founder of the field of food studies after facing decades of low expectations.

In this engrossing memoir, Marion Nestle reflects on how she achieved late-in-life success as a leading advocate for healthier and more sustainable diets. Slow Cooked recounts of how she built an unparalleled career at a time when few women worked in the sciences, and how she came…


Book cover of Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us about Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom

Anne Biklé Author Of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health

From my list on microbiomes, gut health, food, and farming.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been enamored with the natural world and how it works. This trait, among others, led me into the fields of biology, natural history, and environmental planning. Even as I witness our species chiseling away at the planet, I find hope and solace. Working alongside the tenacity and resiliency of plants, animals, and soil microbes, I've helped landscapes as large as a river basin and as small as a garden come to life and flourish. Give nature half a chance and she can do wonders.  

Anne's book list on microbiomes, gut health, food, and farming

Anne Biklé Why did Anne love this book?

This book unfolds a long and brilliant argument drawn from Provenza's decades of academic research and experience with domesticated ruminants—cows, sheep, and goats. Turns out these animals are not dumb. 

In healthy pastures and rangelands Provenza illustrates their ability to select a diet of plants that provide sufficient calories, balanced nutrients, and perhaps most important, a mix of plant-made compounds that underpin normal immunity. Provenza calls this "body wisdom." 

Like ruminants, we too have body wisdom. But, the steady infiltration of ultra-processed foods into the human diet challenges body wisdom with mixed messages. While our brains get high, our cells remain malnourished. This book is a rich and extensive immersion that will transform your thinking. It's eye-opening and mind-expanding in all the best ways.  

By Fred Provenza,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nourishment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Nourishment will change the way you eat and the way you think."-Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect

"[Provenza is] a wise observer of the land and the animals [and] becomes transformed to learn the meaning of life."-Temple Grandin

Reflections on feeding body and spirit in a world of change

Animal scientists have long considered domestic livestock to be too dumb to know how to eat right, but the lifetime research of animal behaviorist Fred Provenza and his colleagues has debunked this myth. Their work shows that when given a choice of natural foods, livestock have an astoundingly refined palate,…


Book cover of The World Was My Garden: Travels of a Plant Explorer

Jane S. Smith Author Of The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

From my list on changing how you think about plants and gardens.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my writing starts with the question, How did we get here? As the granddaughter of a grocer and the daughter of a food editor, I grew up wondering about the quest for new and better foods—especially when other people began saying “new” and “better” were contradictions. Which is better, native or imported? Heirloom or hybrid? Our roses today are patented, and our food supplies are dominated by multi-national seed companies, but not very long ago, the new sciences of evolution and genetics promised an end to scarcity and monotony. If we explore the sources of our gardens, we can understand our world. That‘s what I tried to do in The Garden of Invention, and that’s why I recommend these books.  

Jane's book list on changing how you think about plants and gardens

Jane S. Smith Why did Jane love this book?

David Fairchild was one of the early leaders of the US Department of Agriculture, traveling the world like a botanical Indiana Jones to gather cuttings and learn about local methods of cultivation and pest control.  He introduced thousands of new crops to the United States, from mangos to soybeans. Wouldn’t you love to list “plant explorer” as your job description?

By David Fairchild,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World Was My Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

David Fairchild wrote this book to describe his extensive world travels and his work introducing new plant species to the United States. In addition to sharing his legendary tropical botanical expertise, Fairchild provided graphic accounts of native cultures he was able to see before their modernization. He was an accomplished photographer and illustrated the book himself.

This is his personal story of his experiences, traveling endlessly, absorbing information about plant life and sending back cuttings to experiment with, investigating plant disease, and so on. His training and experiences in European laboratories and his travels brought him into contact with most…


Book cover of Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon

Chris Naunton Author Of Egyptologists' Notebooks: The Golden Age of Nile Exploration in Words, Pictures, Plans, and Letters

From my list on history, archaeology, people, and places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by history and the sense of place. That has led to a career in Egyptology, but I’ve come to realise that that fascination has been a part of my other interests whether it be Arsenal Football Club, rock music, or cycle touring. I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot in recent years. My horizons have broadened, and I’ve come to appreciate the natural environment and man’s place in it more and more. None of the books on my list were chosen because of this – I read them because I thought I would enjoy them, but there’s a common theme linking them all – places, people, interactions.

Chris' book list on history, archaeology, people, and places

Chris Naunton Why did Chris love this book?

I first came across this book in a communal library at a guest house I was staying at on Easter Island. The island is one of the most profoundly affecting places I have ever visited: even today the sense of remoteness is palpable: it’s four hours’ flight from the nearest airport, the island and its population are small, essential supplies such as mineral water and toilet paper come only once a month. And yet centuries ago a small group of would-be settlers from elsewhere in the Pacific landed and established a remarkable community, famous for its mo’ai (statues). They survived, and thrived, for a time, but it was always a precarious existence, and the natural environment has been altered forever as a result. The question of the extent to which the community is sustainable seems, to me, still to be there. It led me to think deeply about human beings…

By John Hemming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tree of Rivers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This enthralling book brilliantly describes the passionate struggles that have taken place in order to utilize, protect and understand the wonder that is the Amazon. Hemming's riveting account recalls the adventures and misadventures down the centuries of the explorers, missionaries, indigenous Indians, naturalists, rubber barons, scientists, anthropologists, archaeologists, political extremists, prospectors and many more, who have been in thrall to the Amazon, the largest river in the world, with the greatest expanse of tropical rain forest and most luxuriant biological diversity on earth.


Book cover of Out of the Shadows: The New Merchants of Grain

Don Steinberg Author Of The Kickstarter Handbook: Real-Life Crowdfunding Success Stories

From my list on how the world really works.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sometimes I feel like we know more about the anthropologies of ancient civilizations and remote tribes than about the business most people do every day. There's mystery behind the curtain. To me, good nonfiction that goes deep inside a business is about our culture and how our world works. It's a way to understand everything we interact with and how it got there. I have enjoyed telling specific business creation stories as a business journalist, but understanding what truly turns the gears has informed writing I have done on every subject, including my humor.

Don's book list on how the world really works

Don Steinberg Why did Don love this book?

This book reveals a substantial but obscure piece of the world economy. It's gonna blow your mind how much grains influence the world. Corn is in food and packaging and gasoline. Palm oil is in everything. Wheat, rice, soybeans…apparently billions of people eat this stuff. Commodities futures trading is about high finance but also farming, land use, biotech, politics, and climate change. Kingsman is a lively writer, considering he's a career commodities trader, and he interviews insiders at companies including the "ABCD" giants -- ADM, Bunge, Cargill, and Dreyfus (of the Julia Louis-Dreyfuses).

By Jonathan Kingsman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Out of the Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1979, Dan Morgan, a journalist with the Washington Post, wrote Merchants of Grain, a definitive history of the international grain trade. In the 40 years since Dan’s book was published the grain markets have changed almost beyond recognition. So too have the merchants of grain. Once shadowy figures, grain merchants have now come out of the shadows. Almost everything that you eat or drink today will contain something bought, stored, transported, processed, shipped, distributed or sold by one of the seven giants of the agricultural supply chain. The media often refers to them as the ABCD group of international…


Book cover of Meat: A Benign Extravagance

Chris Smaje Author Of Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future: The Case For an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods

From my list on why we must adopt low-impact local food systems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as an academic social scientist and seem set to end it as a gardener, small-scale farmer, and accidental ecological activist. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way from these different parts of my life that I channel in my writing. I don’t claim much expertise. In fact, I think claims to expert knowledge that can ‘solve’ modern problems are a big part of our modern problems. I’ve always been interested in how people and communities try to figure things out for themselves, often by picking up the pieces when big ideas have failed them. My writing arises out of that.

Chris' book list on why we must adopt low-impact local food systems

Chris Smaje Why did Chris love this book?

If there were justice in this world, Simon Fairlie would be a national treasure. A life lived at the margins of polite society informs his magnum opus Meat, which is only partly about meat and livestock.

At a deeper level, it’s about what a sensible, fair, renewable, and low-impact society would look like in modern Britain – the answer in a nutshell being a society substantially of small mixed farms geared to local needs. Forensic data analysis, deep historical knowledge, a conversational style, and a rare wit combine to make this book a classic of modern agricultural writing.

By Simon Fairlie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meat is a groundbreaking exploration of the difficult environmental, ethical and health issues surrounding the human consumption of animals. Garnering huge praise in the UK, this is a book that answers the question: should we be farming animals, or not? Not a simple answer, but one that takes all views on meat eating into account. It lays out in detail the reasons why we must indeed decrease the amount of meat we eat, both for the planet and for ourselves, and yet explores how different forms of agriculture--including livestock--shape our landscape and culture.At the heart of this book, Simon Fairlie…


Book cover of Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine

Zhang-Yue Zhou Author Of Achieving Food Security in China: The Challenges Ahead

From my list on understanding China’s great famine.

Why am I passionate about this?

My desire for food-related studies originates from my personal experience of starvation. Born in 1957 in rural China, I soon stepped into China’s Great Famine (1958-1962). During this famine, over 30 million people died of hunger, mostly peasants, including my grandpa (my mother’s father). As a growing child, I was hungry and today I still remember how my family struggled to feed us. After becoming a student at an agricultural university, I had the opportunity to think and started to ponder over food-related issues. After graduation, I became an academic and have since focused my energy on studies concerning food, chiefly, China’s food supply and food security. 

Zhang-Yue's book list on understanding China’s great famine

Zhang-Yue Zhou Why did Zhang-Yue love this book?

I was shocked when I first came to know this book, the first to unravel the large-scale abnormal death during China’s Great Famine. I was shocked because it was written by a person who was foreign to China and was far away from the famine, not by a person who was from China or someone who lived through the famine.

Also shocking are the book’s many revelations; the most important of which is that the Great Famine was man-made, not due to natural disasters as the Chinese regime always told us.

As a result, this book greatly inspired me to look into the causes and consequences of the famine and how to improve China’s food security to avoid future famines.

By Jasper Becker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hungry Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Combining years of interviews, extensive research, and painstaking detective work, a journalist exposes the horrible result of Mao Zedong's attempted utopian engineering in China between 1958 and 1962, uncovering a bloody trail of terror, cannibalism, torture, and murder.


Book cover of Red China's Green Revolution: Technological Innovation, Institutional Change, and Economic Development Under the Commune

Mobo C.F. Gao Author Of Constructing China: Clashing Views of the People's Republic

From my list on understanding modern China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I currently teach Chinese studies at the Department of Asian Studies of the University of Adelaide. My publications include several books, and over a hundred book chapters/articles. My book Mandarin Chinese: An Introduction is a standard reference for learners of modern Chinese in English-speaking countries. Two of my books Gao Village: A Portrait of Modern Life in Rural China and Gao Village Revisited: Life of the Rural People in Contemporary China are case studies of Gao Village where I came from. Other books include the Battle of China's Past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution and Remembering Socialist China 1949 – 1976 which are reassessments of the Mao era and the Cultural Revolution. 

Mobo's book list on understanding modern China

Mobo C.F. Gao Why did Mobo love this book?

This book, like Mao and After, credits the era of Mao with far more achievements than they are given by the political and intellectual elite in post-Mao China. This book particularly focuses on the collective system or what was called the Commune and exploits the technical innovation and economic developments under the Commune. This is in total contrast to the accepted wisdom that there was economic stagnation in the era of Mao

By Joshua Eisenman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red China's Green Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

China's dismantling of the Mao-era rural commune system and return to individual household farming under Deng Xiaoping has been seen as a successful turn away from a misguided social experiment and a rejection of the disastrous policies that produced widespread famine. In this revisionist study, Joshua Eisenman marshals previously inaccessible data to overturn this narrative, showing that the commune modernized agriculture, increased productivity, and spurred an agricultural green revolution that laid the foundation for China's future rapid growth.

Red China's Green Revolution tells the story of the commune's origins, evolution, and downfall, demonstrating its role in China's economic ascendance. After…


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