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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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3.8 out of 5
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  • Good - needs more science

    I may be biased seeing as I'm a scientist, but wow this book needs more science. At one point (early in the book) it talks about beetles recognizing unhealthy plants via electromagnetic wave. To my knowledge plants do not emit electromagnetic waves. The book is really just a collection of (good) stories.

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  • Doesn’t live up to the hype

    “…chef Dan Barber… offers a radical way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too.” I looked forward to reading this. Our diets can be full of salty, fatty and over processed food… and we have a planet to feed. I thought I’d keep in mind the typical working class family or low income family to get some insight. Mistake. Unfortunately, most of the book looks backward to a better time… the 19th century in Europe and America. It’s postlapsarian: we’ve got to get back to the garden. I don’t know if food back in the good ol’ days was tastier, but I do know that maternal and fetal mortality was high then, and worse for the poor and food insecure. And that drinking poop in your water wasn’t an issue, but I don’t think broth was improved by it. That’s the bulk of the book. Barber finally confronts the brutal results of the Green Revolution… a billion lives saved (his number not mine), at the cost of monoculture, flavour deprived foods and a food economy that depends upon ever increasing scientific intervention. That working class’ family may have survived because of the Green Revolution. I am glad that he engages with the need to revolutionize food production. But his conversation is with the elite, however thoughtful patrons of his restaurant and the food chain that supplies it. If you are one of these you are going to love this book. The vast majority won’t benefit from it. I nearly choked on the epilogue where Barber presents a Menu from His Restaurant Of The Future. It sounds good, really good. But then, phytoplankton. The Solyent Corporation is making food from the abundant phytoplankton in the sea. They’ve made a movie about it. But as Charlton Heston found out, Solyent Green is made from a few Edward G. Robinsons and a lot more of those working class families. Oh the irony.

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