The best books about the food industry

1 authors have picked their favorite books about food industry and why they recommend each book.

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Swallow This

By Joanna Blythman,

Book cover of Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets

Eating right involves two very important things- what you need to eat a lot of for health, and what you need to avoid eating because it will make you ill. A very sobering look inside the so-called ‘food industry’ and how it is operating in the modern world, Swallow This educates us as to what ‘food’ labels mean; ‘natural flavourings’, ‘modified starch’ and so on. Once you’ve read it, you will understand completely why I put ‘food’ in inverted commas, and will develop a proper aversion to processed ‘food’, which will save you from a raft of serious health outcomes.

Who am I?

I am a naturopathic therapist, teacher, and writer working mainly with plant medicine since 1989. For decades, I’ve been teaching many aspects of natural healing and have written 5 books, published in 6 languages, on various aspects of my work. One of my favourite books is DEEPLY HOLISTIC, a Guide to Intuitive Self-Care, a synthesis of much of the advice I’ve given clients over my 30 years of practice.

I wrote...

Deeply Holistic: A Guide to Intuitive Self-Care--Know Your Body, Live Consciously, and Nurture Your Spirit

By Pip Waller,

Book cover of Deeply Holistic: A Guide to Intuitive Self-Care--Know Your Body, Live Consciously, and Nurture Your Spirit

What is my book about?

Natural medicine outcomes depend partly on helping people create a lifestyle which acts as the foundation for good health. Deeply Holistic is a smorgasbord of suggestions that you can help yourself to, to help yourself move more towards your optimum possible level of health, presented in the format of relevance to the various body systems.

Good eating is an essential foundational building block to feeling well. But what to eat, in the modern climate of often conflicting and contradictory advice? As I discuss in Deeply Holistic, there is no real one size fits all approach to diet, hence the emphasis on ‘intuitive’ self-care – increasing your ability to tune in and listen to what your body is asking for.k

Salt Sugar Fat

By Michael Moss,

Book cover of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Have you ever thought of our current food environment in terms of the tobacco companies? You will after reading this book. Moss goes behind the scenes of the industrialization of food to show how intentionally these companies have tried (and succeeded!) to get everyone addicted to their products. Although some of his other books are interesting too, this one had a huge impact on how I think about our food environment – and what that has done to lower our nutrient intake.

The latest government data shows how important this is: North Americans are now consuming ultra-processed products for more than half of their dietary intake. This means we are voluntarily choosing to consume less than half the micronutrients our parents and grandparents ate.  

Who am I?

During my career, when someone asked if I had read a particular book on mental health, my reaction was “why would I read interpretive books when I already read the actual studies on which those books are based?” Eventually, I began to discover what I had been missing. There are many excellent books that enhanced my knowledge of mental health and nutrition, and I am grateful for many more than the five listed here. But even so, in 2020 Julia and I concluded that there was a huge gap in the books available --- so we wrote The Better Brain to educate people about what micronutrients do in our brains.

I wrote...

The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression, and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition

By Bonnie Kaplan, Julia J. Rucklidge,

Book cover of The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression, and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition

What is my book about?

One in five Americans suffers from some sort of mental illness, even though antidepressant use has risen 65% since 1999. Clearly, the psychopharmacology ‘revolution’ is not solving the epidemic of mental health problems. But what if the key cannot be found in the pharmacy – what if it lies in the foods and nutrients we consume? 

Our book is the first to explain why nutrients are critical every minute of every day for optimal brain function, why a whole foods diet is important, and when and how to add supplementary nutrients. Written by two scientists who have contributed many studies to this evidence base, the book will motivate you to optimize your brain function, as it gives you the information you need to do so. 

The Big Letdown

By Kimberly Seals Allers,

Book cover of The Big Letdown

Kimberly writes from personal experience and from the heart. She pulls no punches. Her book covers a lot of the obstacles you’d expect – societal attitudes to breastfeeding, the formula industry, and so on – but it’s her chapter on ‘the feminist fallacy’ that really spoke to me. I’ve always been baffled by the lack of support that feminist writers have shown for breastfeeding. They talk about it as a chore, as a restriction on women’s freedom, not as something amazing that a woman’s body can do. Kimberly challenges this thinking head on, fearlessly exposing the flawed thinking that has, in the name of equality, blindly followed an agenda set by men, with the result that motherhood is devalued and breastfeeding is framed as simply an issue of ‘choice’. Her conviction provides me with the hope that we can reverse this. Brilliant.

Who am I?

I got hooked on breastfeeding when, during my health visitor training, our class had a lecture from Drs. Penny and Andrew Stanway, who wrote the original Breast is Best. I breastfed my own children, became a breastfeeding counsellor and lactation consultant (IBCLC), and championed breastfeeding as a health visitor and midwife. I then worked for 14 years with the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, teaching and supporting healthcare staff to improve standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Throughout, I gained a huge respect for babies’ abilities in relation to breastfeeding. This directly influenced my belief in their capacity to continue feeding themselves when they start solid food, which is my current focus.

I wrote...

Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide

By Gill Rapley, Tracey Murkett,

Book cover of Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide

What is my book about?

Solid foods are nowadays recommended from around six months. At this age, the vast majority of babies don’t need to be spoon-fed, and they don’t need their food to be pureed. Instead, they can feed themselves with pieces of real food, using their hands. They know what they need to eat, how fast, and how much. The parent’s role is simply to provide healthy food and shared mealtimes, and to trust their baby’s abilities and instincts.

I first began speaking and writing about BLW back in 2001. A few years later, I teamed up with Tracey Murkett to write the first edition of this book, which sets out the benefits of baby-led weaning, why it makes sense, and how to do it. Since then, baby-led weaning has taken off worldwide and the book – now in its second edition – has been translated into over 20 languages. As a result, many authors have followed in our wake. But our book was, and remains, THE definitive guide.

Technically Food

By Larissa Zimberoff,

Book cover of Technically Food: Inside Silicon Valley's Mission to Change What We Eat

This is the newest book on my list, and it reads like a glimpse into the future. Zimberoff investigates big tech’s scramble to create eggs without chickens, milk without cows, and meat without animals. It’s remarkable in both its breadth and its access to key players. I mentioned my character’s struggle to balance nature and technology earlier. In this arena, the line is even finer. If there’s ever a sequel to my own book, it will surely explore alternative proteins.

Who am I?

I’m a novelist and a teacher of writing. My books are fueled by curiosity above all else. I have no expertise in science, so I stand in wonder at complicated systems that remain mostly hidden to me. My interest in food is similarly recreational. I’m married to a great chef and cookbook author, so I’ve learned a lot by osmosis. But when I think back on the process of writing One Potato, I have to give a lot of credit to my students. They seem to be part of a generation that’s genuinely passionate about eating in healthy, equitable, and sustainable ways. Much of my book was sparked by conversations in the classroom.

I wrote...

One Potato

By Tyler Mcmahon,

Book cover of One Potato

What is my book about?

A satire set within the biotech industry, One Potato features a bumbling but well-intentioned food scientist forced to walk a crooked line between nature and technology. Eddie Morales is quite happy as a lowly R&D man at a Boise-based biotech firm called Tuberware. His aspirations don’t reach far beyond processed foods and a simple life in Idaho. It comes as a shock when the company’s head calls Eddie into the office to discuss a situation in Puerto Malogrado—a tiny but tumultuous country in South America—where lax regulations allow Tuberware to market experimental crops. Eddie—not an expert on GMOs or PR—is dispatched to the Andes to help avert a media circus.  

Hungry City

By Carolyn Steel,

Book cover of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives

Such an important, relevant, and well-written book. Carolyn Steel traces the journey food takes to feed our cities – from the land where it is grown to the waste dumps, where its decay causes environmental degradation. It is a book that looks forward as well as to the past. Hungry City ends with a rallying cry to create a better food system – better for us, for society, for the planet. ‘How food shapes our lives in our future is up to us,’ writes Steel.

Who am I?

I am a food writer who has long been interested in seeing food in its cultural, historical, and social context. Food is too often put in a neat little box, whereas actually it offers a fascinating prism through which to explore the world. Researching and writing The Missing Ingredient – in which I explore the role of time as the universal, invisible ‘ingredient’ in the food we grow, make, and cook brought this home to me.

I wrote...

The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

By Jenny Linford,

Book cover of The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

What is my book about?

The Missing Ingredient is about what makes good food, and the first book to consider the intrinsic yet often forgotten role of time in creating the flavours and textures we love.

Written through a series of encounters with ingredients, producers, cooks, shopkeepers, and chefs, exploring everything from the brief period in which sugar caramelises, or the days required in the crucial process of fermentation, to the months of slow ripening and close attention that make a great cheddar, or the years needed for certain wines to reach their peak, Jenny Linford shows how, time and again, time itself is the invisible ingredient. From the patience and dedication of many food producers in fields and storehouses around the world to the rapid reactions required of any home cook at the hob, this book allows us to better understand our culinary lives.

Fast Food Nation

By Eric Schlosser,

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

I think of this 2001 expose as the granddaddy of this genre. The book reveals how “fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society” and the savage consequences of that long reach. Sure, we know fast food helped turn us into people who eat empty calories on the run. But the impact of fast food is much broader and deeper, affecting meatpacking, potato farming, minimum wage labor laws, urban sprawl, and even the tastes our tongues crave. It’s a tribute to the book’s revelations that many of the reviews ended on the same note of “you’ll never look at a burger the same way again.”

Who am I?

I’ve been writing about science and the environment for over 20 years, but always I find myself gravitating to the non-sciency, non-naturey part of stories. My favorite part of my first book, on the American chestnut, was about how people in Appalachia loved and relied on this tree that was largely killed off in the early twentieth century. For Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, I was as fascinated by the cultural and psychological effects of plastic as its environmental and health impacts. One of the things I’ve learned is that some of the most powerful things shaping our lives – for better or worse – are ones we don’t notice or see. 

I wrote...

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

By Susan Freinkel,

Book cover of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

What is my book about?

When I started researching my book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, I spent a day writing down everything I touched that was plastic. The list went on for pages. That eye-opening exercise revealed to me how thoroughly plastic permeated modern life. In the space of scarcely 50 years, plastic transformed how we live, work, and play. Plastic surrounds us at every turn; present in the air, the soil, the seas, and even our bodies. The rise of plastic is one of the most profound changes that has taken place in my lifetime – and it was hiding in plain sight. My book was an effort to answer two basic questions: How did this happen? And what does it mean for us and the planet? 


By Tim Spector,

Book cover of Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We've Been Told about Food Is Wrong

Tim Spector is a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and one of my favorite health researchers. In Spoon-Fed, Dr. Spector examines top myths about health, such as “nutritional guidelines and diet plans apply to everyone,” “calories accurately measure how fattening a food is,” and “gluten is dangerous.”

Who am I?

I’ve been interested in diets ever since I watched my mom diet while I was growing up. For decades, I enthusiastically jumped on the diet roller coaster myself, and thus began my quest to find the “perfect” way to eat. Not one of these “diets” ever worked for me for long-term weight loss, however, and I became more and more confused about what I “should” be eating. Finally, I was able to lose over 80 pounds thanks to intermittent fasting, but I was still confused about what I should be eating. Once I figured out the when (intermittent fasting), the what followed, thanks to the work of these authors.

I wrote...

Clean(ish): Eat (Mostly) Clean, Live (Mainly) Clean, and Unlock Your Body's Natural Ability to Self-Clean

By Gin Stephens,

Book cover of Clean(ish): Eat (Mostly) Clean, Live (Mainly) Clean, and Unlock Your Body's Natural Ability to Self-Clean

What is my book about?

In Gin Stephens's New York Times bestseller Fast. Feast. Repeat., she showed you how to fast (completely) clean as part of an intermittent fasting lifestyle. Now, whether you’re an intermittent faster or not, Gin shows you how to become clean(ish) where it counts: you’ll learn how to shift your choices so you’re not burdening your body with a bucket of chemicals, additives, and obesogens it wasn’t designed to handle. 

Instead of aiming for perfection (which is impossible) or changing everything at once (which is hard, and rarely leads to lasting results), you’ll cut through the confusion, lose the fear, and embrace the freedom that comes from becoming clean(ish). As you learn how to lower your toxic load through small changes, smart swaps, and simple solutions, you’ll evolve simply and naturally toward a clean(ish) lifestyle that works for your body and your life!

The Taste of Empire

By Lizzie Collingham,

Book cover of The Taste of Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

Collingham has written multiple books on food and the British Empire, and this one is my favorite. Stretching from 1545 to 1996, each of the twenty chapters selects a historical meal, dissecting its ingredients and manner of preparation in order to explore the imperial forces and experiences that created it. Painstakingly research, each chapter is a standalone history.

Who am I?

I am a Professor of History at Texas A&M University and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  I teach and research broadly in the histories of Britain and its empire, North America, and the Atlantic world. I am the author of four books, including Making Headlines: The American Revolution as Seen through the British Press and The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812. I am especially fascinated with how imperialism shape colonizers’ cultures.

I wrote...

Eating the Empire: Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain

By Troy Bickham,

Book cover of Eating the Empire: Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain

What is my book about?

When students gathered in a London coffeehouse and smoked tobacco; when Yorkshire women sipped sugar-infused tea; or when a Glasgow family ate a bowl of Indian curry, were they aware of the mechanisms of imperial rule and trade that made such goods readily available?

In Eating the Empire, Troy Bickham unfolds the extraordinary role that food played in shaping Britain during the long eighteenth century (circa 1660–1837), when such foreign goods as coffee, tea, and sugar went from rare luxuries to some of the most ubiquitous commodities in Britain—reaching even the poorest and remotest of households. Bickham reveals how trade in the empire’s edibles underpinned the emerging consumer economy, fomenting the rise of modern retailing, visual advertising, and consumer credit, and, via taxes, financed the military and civil bureaucracy that secured, governed, and spread the British Empire.

A Culinary History of Taipei

By Steven Crook, Katy Hui-Wen Hung,

Book cover of A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai

Despite the title, this is a history of the food of Taiwan, not just Taipei. The “ponlai” in the subtitle refers to a strain of rice developed in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period, stickier and quicker maturing than the indica rice cultivated previously; and this specificity gives a good indication of the admirable depth the book goes into. There’s great breadth too, the authors covering almost everything you might be curious about, whether aboriginal crops or traditional banquet culture, religious food offerings, food folklore and prohibitions, the evolution of basic ingredients, and the origin stories of iconic dishes.

Who am I?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink).

I wrote...

Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

By John Grant Ross,

Book cover of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

What is my book about?

This mix of travelogue, history, and vignettes of small-town life is the kind of book I like to read myself: history and culture woven into travel narratives, and with a healthy sprinkling of eccentric characters. I think readers will be surprised to learn that Taiwan was – until the early twentieth century – one of the wildest places in Asia, as shown in the tales recounted of fatal shipwrecks, headhunting tribes, banditry, and revolts. From those early frontier days, Formosan Odyssey takes us through the period of Japanese colonial rule, and the post-war transition from impoverished police state to a prosperous democracy.

The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved

By Sandor Ellix Katz,

Book cover of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements

Sandor Katz is one of the most important faces in the modern fermentation movement, and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved proves that his influence extends beyond the microbial sphere. This incredible book shows how ordinary people can resist the dominant food system, revive their community, and take direct action to benefit their own health and nutrition.

Who am I?

My life's work has been to educate and encourage others to take food into their own hands with the intention of reclaiming real nutrition and declaring independence from the conventional food system. I'm humbled by the fact that my DIY Kombucha business has been successful, and it means that enough people are realizing the importance of intentionality when considering the food and drink we put in our bodies. I'd say that our motto of "Changing the world, one gut at a time" accurately represents what we're doing every day.

I wrote...

The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea

By Hannah Crum, Alex Lagory,

Book cover of The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea

What is my book about?

This book is the culmination of more than 10 years of teaching people how to brew Kombucha, and there is no more extensive, comprehensive, detailed, or researched book available than this! Everything the new brewer and the experienced fermenter wants in one Big Book, these 400 pages are packed with instruction, tips, troubleshooting, cooking, cocktails, smoothies, history, science, & so much more! 

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