- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne (Nov. 10 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061581070
- ISBN-13: 978-0061581076
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.1 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 717 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #420,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love Hardcover – Nov 10 2015
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“[Simran Sethi] looks at ways in which monoculture and an increasingly standardized global diet put food systems in peril and leave crops vulnerable to blight and climate change.” (Wall Street Journal)
“In Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Sethi describes how, in recent years, environmental and economic forces have decreased biodiversity and threatened the existence of some of our favorite foods and beverages.” (Boston Globe)
“Our tables … are never really of, or for, one, as Sethi elegantly shows us.” (NPR)
“Bread, wine, chocolate-three things many of us refuse to live without. But, as Simran Sethi tells us in her new book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, we might have to.” (Acquired Taste)
“Read this wonderful book and you will become immersed in the intricate worlds of no less than six (delicious) foods and drinks. It is about our relationships with the life forms that sustain us—and how we might learn to approach those relationships with far more love, compassion, and good taste.” (Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine)
“Simran Sethi’s passionate book on food and biodiversity reminds us how healing food can be. The world is on our plate.” (Deepak Chopra, M.D.)
“A powerful reminder that we can eat in ways that don’t cause damage to the planet or its poorest people--and that can delight us, not just fill us up. Don’t read it on an empty stomach!” (Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy)
“A passionate plea to save and restore the things most precious about our food—its myriad flavors and its connection with nature. As global economic forces slowly squeeze the uniqueness out of what we eat, Simran Sethi explores the delicate culinary delights that offer hope, and deliciousness, for the future.” (John McQuaid, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat)
“A stirring call to arms for anyone who loves food!” (Andrea Reusing, James Beard award-winning chef and author of Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes)
“Should be required reading for culinary students, journalists, scholars and citizens who care about what they put into their mouths and what we’re doing to Mother Earth. Sethi is the kind of writer who can coat the bitter pill in honey and we all just swallow and say thank you.” (Linda West Eckhardt, James Beard award-winning cookbook author, Editor/Founder of Everybody Eats News)
About the Author
Simran Sethi is a journalist and an associate at the University of Melbourne's Sustainable Society Institute and the former host of the PBS Quest series on science and sustainability. Her work has appeared on NBC Nightly News, PBS, Oprah, MSNBC, the History Channel, and NPR. She was the national environmental correspondent for NBC News, the anchor/writer of Sundance Channel's first dedicated environmental programming, and the host of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary A School in the Woods.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In this wonderfully captivating book, Simran Sethi explores five of our favorite foods--bread, wine, chocolate, beer and coffee--in a globetrotting pursuit of the stories behind them and what can be learned from our love of them. Her journey takes her from Ecuador to Ethiopia (and beautiful points between). We meet some of engaging and colorful characters who are integrally parts of the stories behind our food (who are usually almost always anonymous), while being fed an appetizing mix of biology, botany, history, public policy as well as the author's personal reflections on her journey. A talented writer, Ms. Sethi's book is a mouth-watering and eye-opening gift to eaters, especially those whose appreciation of good food goes beyond merely a desire for personal pleasure (while not neglecting the importance of it).
The damage done by industrial food system's destruction of naturally beautiful biodiversity in food isn't just ecological and nutritional. We are also deeply impoverished by the loss of the joy that is produced by the exquisite range of tastes of truly good food--a loss that is more profound than we might usually imagine. Aware of this, the author is not content to stop at merely identifying and describing the physical effects of a loss of biodiversity in our favorite foods; she delves into the spiritual significance of it as well, and it was then that the book most resonated with me. Food is not just a vehicle for transporting nutrients into our body. Biodiversity in food is not just important so we can savor a variety of tastes. Rather, the value of biodiversity in food reflects the value in diversity generally. There is reflected in the stories behind our food a universal interconnecteness. There is, for example, a fascinating and beautiful web of stories behind the satisfaction (joy, even) that we get when sipping a fine cup of coffee in the morning. In the author's words, it is "a manifestation of deeper human connection," a source not only of joy, but even transcendence.
And the appreciation of good food creates opportunities far beyond merely increasing our own personal pleasure. It helps create an instrument for changing the world, and fixing the brokenness of our food system.
"Taste," the author writes, "is the gateway through which we will transform food...By demanding what is delicious we can transform what is grown and sold. It is the first step in reclaiming what we love." As a vegetable farmer trying desperately to convince people not to settle for what is cheap and convenient, I offer a hearty amen to that sentiment.
The "sensory guides" designed for tasting the foods were a little over the top for my more plebeian palate but should delight the epicures. Who knew one could savor bread with the same careful attention a connoisseur would give to wine, for example?
I give Bread Wine Chocolate an enthusiastic two thumbs up. Bravo to Simran Sethi. May her tribe increase.
Intelligent, thoughtful and thought provoking. This book will be a part of curriculums for years to come.
I believe there is a great story to be told here, even using this same approach -- to look at the growing uniformity in food, the loss of diversity with the accompanying genetic and economic realities, looking at four food products widely known and loved, and viewing the lives and paths that bring these things to us. However I felt this book was poorly written, or probably more the root cause, very poorly edited. It is often jarringly repetitive, and frequently inserts quotes by the likes of Diane Ackerman or Sandor Katz that only tangentially relate to what she's trying to talk about. Additionally, while this story is a personal journey, told through a personal lens, I often found myself wishing the author could step back some, acknowledging these issues are important, and let the story tell itself. Nearly every page is about her, and it was a wearying read. The author expressed little sense of humor, irony, sense of humor, or much of a global view.
I felt that the most effective section was the coffee one; I question the editorial decision that started the book with wine, instead of this. These seemed to best encapsulate the overall topics, and it is something many people enjoy to start their day. Finishing this, I felt the book might be turning the corner. The beer section however -- while I realize color and clarity are important brewing considerations -- launches into the physiology of the eye, then a discussion of ancient goddesses and a feminist reading of beer. These feel like filler in a book allegedly about the slow loss of biodiversity and the foods we love. Then there is some very purple prose. At one point someone pours her three beers with rich and colorful hues -- and she responds "I hadn't taken a sip, but I already felt nourished". OK then...
This was not the book I was hoping to read. There were long sections on how our senses of taste and smell work, and ones detailing how to appreciate wine and savor chocolate. This read as less about the loss of beloved foods, more as a treatise on why and how we should develop more exquisite tastes.