The Fate of Food will give you a good overview of how tradition and technology might come together to feed the world in the future.
I guess you could say that my purchase of The Fate of Food was an impulse buy (a good one).
In early November last year, I went into a Barnes & Noble store in San Luis Obispo, CA to buy a 2020 mini wall calendar to put up on the tack board next to my desk. My plan had been to quickly find a calendar, buy it, and then move on to the next errand on my list.
The calendar with the words “Serenity quotes for a peaceful mind” superimposed over a photo of a lovely calm looking lake appealed to me. I took it off the rack and turned around intending to walk back to the checkout counter. On the way, I decided I would just pop over to the environment/nature section to scout for new books that I might want to read in the future.
Standing there clutching my calendar I avidly scanned the titles. The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by Amanda Little caught my eye. I pulled the book off the shelf and flipped through it reading the book jacket and table of contents.
It looked interesting so I bought the book along with the calendar.
The Fate of Food opens with Amanda Little recounting her tour of the Wise Company, a survival food maker in Salt Lake City, UT. This visit occurred after she had traveled to thirteen states in the U.S. and eleven countries pursuing an answer to the question “What will be for dinner in the future?”
I knew I was going to like the book when I read the following paragraph at the top of page 8.
“After my visit to the Wise factory, I whip up a bowl of rehydrated pot pie. In truth, I ask my kids to do it. They fire up the electric kettle, pour, stir, wait for the pebbly chunks to soften. To them, it’s a simple science experiment. To me, it’s confronting a future I don’t want to meet.”
It was heartening to discover that along with delivering facts, information, and stories about other people, Little was willing to share herself with me and you.
Reading The Fate of Food you will learn a lot of things, sometimes fascinating things, about apple farming, robots, aeroponics and aquaculture, animal-free meat, food waste, water, cloud seeding, moringa trees, and 3-D printed food.
You will also have an opportunity to ponder ways that small-scale and industrial-scale farming could be transformed to feed the world in a way that is healthy for people and the planet.
Here are a few snapshots of what you will be reading.
Chapter 3 – Seeds of Drought
In this section, you will meet Kenyan Ruth Oniang’o the founder of Rural Outreach Program of Africa that focuses on improving agricultural productivity while protecting small farmers. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and bioengineered food are covered here as well as the dilemma faced by countries who are struggling to grow their own food.
“I am talking about using technology—modern seeds, modern methods—to benefit humanity, to produce food that’s clean, abundant, and climate-smart, in a way that frees small-scale farmers from drudgery. We shall industrialize our food production while maintaining the core of who we are.”Ruth Oniang’o
Chapter 7 – Tipping the Scales
Chances are you have heard the term aquaculture (think farm-raised salmon). This chapter explores the potential benefits and challenges associated with farming aquatic animals and plants in oceans, specialized ponds, and tanks. If you are not currently familiar with algal blooms, sea lice, or the resource efficiency of fish farming, you will be.
Chapter 10 – Pipe Dreams
Without water there is no food and agriculture is a thirsty business. This chapter provides a look at how Israel, a country with very little freshwater, handles its water supply. Other topics discussed here include desalination, closed-loop water recycling, and using cloud-based applications to detect leaks.
The book closes with Little’s visit to the farm of Chris and Annie Newman who are reimagining farming.
“I was taught early on that we live within the ecosystem, not on top of it.”Chris Newman
The Bottom Line
Amanda Little is a journalist and a professor teaching investigative journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University. She is also the author of Power Trip: The Story of America’s Love Affair with Energy.
The Fate of Food is a readable book that packs in a lot of material about many different food-related subjects. I think Little’s writing style and the way she conveys information in a story-like manner will appeal to a wide audience. What makes this book special to me is that Little relates to us, her readers, as fellow human beings.
After reading The Fate of Food, I hope you will feel optimistic and motivated to learn more about one or more of the topics covered in the book.
Featured Image at Top
A place setting sits on top of a green place mat – photo iStock/kyoshino.
- Can Eating Ugly Fruits and Vegetables End Hunger and Food Waste?
- Environmental Impact of Eating Meat
- Environmental Impact of Sugar
- Food Rules – Book Review
- GMOs and Bioengineered Food – Pesticide Proliferation
- If You Have Not Tried Plant-Based Meat, You Should
- Organic Food – Healthy Soil is Good for the Environment
- The Reducetarian Solution – Book Review
- Vat Meat, Cultured Meat, In Vitro Meat – Would You Eat It?
- Your Individual Climate Actions Matter and this is Why
- So God Made A Farmer – narrated by Paul Harvey, R&D Studios, 2013 (Amanda Little mentioned this video in her book. It is from a Super Bowl truck commercial but it is worth watching)
- The climate crisis and the end of the golden era of food choice – by Sean Illing, Vox, 06/24/19 (This is an excellent interview with Amanda Little.)