Have no fear, this isn’t a crappy novel list. These are the food-related books I’ve enjoyed reading and recommend. I do not like reading at all, so the fact that I read these is a testament to how good they are. If you like food, you will enjoy these books:
Politically Incorrect Nutrition – Michael Barbee
- Barbee reveals the true science behind much of the lies about nutrition that the USDA and FDA feed us. He also explains that these agencies know the truth about nutrition and our rules or habits are based on old, erroneous studies. The reason why nothing has changed is because giant food corporations run the lobbies in congress. Interesting read.
What to Eat – Marion Nestle
- Nestle teaches you about the layout of a modern grocery store. Why certain things are in certain locations and what food corporations do to persuade you that their product is good for you, when it isn’t.
- She also wrote Food Politics, which I’m waiting to read.
The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter – Peter Singer
- A known controversial food author, Singer takes you through the lives of several American families with their food choices. His book is more about food ethics more than nutrition or industry deceit, but it’s still interesting.
Real Food: What to Eat and Why – Nina Planck
- This book is presented in a casual format, unlike Barbee’s straight science and facts format. Planck also writes about the truth about nutrition and why the government recommends this versus that (like vegetable oil versus butter). She grew up on a farm and runs farmer’s markets, so her perspective is from the common citizen, not a scientist. A very good read if you’re thinking about getting into a food book.
The Omnivore’s Dilemna – Michael Pollan
- This book describes how humans have traditionally eaten and why that diet was superior to our current over-processed method. You’ll never see the modern food industry the same again.
- He also wrote several other books I’m waiting to read (In Defense of Food and Food Rules)
Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking – Michael Ruhlman
- Ruhlman, who runs a very successful blog, writes this with the purpose of explaining that with a little memory of base rules, anyone can make anything in the kitchen. With these basic ratios for recipes, you can add anything to it to make whatever you want. He covers pies, breads, cookies, sauces, brines, stocks, custards, etc. His extensive culinary knowledge was broken down to lamens terms for a quick read. Terrific book that belongs in every kitchen.
The Wine Bible – Karen MacNeil
- A great book to have if you’re thinking about learning the different worlds of wine. Almost every variety is covered in there with every major growing region around the world. It’s just a great book of extensive wine knowledge.
How to Brew – John Palmer
- I’m an avid home brewer so this is the gold standard for learning. Within a week of buying this book, I made my first batch of beer and it was very good. Palmer outlines the basics of beer making. It’s quite simple once you understand the few guidelines.
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth – Jonny Bowden
- A great reference for food nutrition. It follows “true” nutrition as referenced in other books above. However, this layout is like an encyclopedia organized by food name. It’s a good book to have if you’re questioning what a certain food contains and why it’s healthy.
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – Peter Reinhart
- The best book on bread baking I’ve ever come across. While Ratio sets up a lot of baking ratios, this masterpiece focuses on bread and the reasons why altering hydration, salt, yeast, age of flour, etc matters. It’s great for those that want to really learn how to make better bread.
Charcuterie: The Craft of Smoking, Salting, and Curing – Michael Ruhlman
- A fabulous book about everything you’d ever need to know and want to know about curing meat. I thought I knew things since I had made bacon and pastrami, but I was a total noob before reading this.
- Ruhlman prefers not to give you a giant cookbook with recipes. Rather, he writes out the scientific reasons why we do things a certain way with meat separated into logical chapters.
- He’s one of the best food writers today for good reason.
The Low Maintenance Vegetable Garden – Clare Matthews
- A very simple to read book on everything you NEED to know without all the extra stuff.
- Matthews provides many pictures, variety notes, and quick short cuts that improve your success while reducing your time out in the garden.
- The gardening book for those that don’t live for gardening.
So if you’re interested in why we think about food a certain way, what correct nutrition really is, or just want to learn about the food industry and how things affect us, give these a try. Find cheap used copies on Amazon like I did.