Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly

Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly

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by James E. McWilliams
     
 

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We suffer today from food anxiety, bombarded as we are with confusing messages about how to eat an ethical diet. Should we eat locally? Is organic really better for the environment? Can genetically modified foods be good for you?

JUST FOOD does for fresh food what Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) did for fast food, challenging conventional views,

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Overview

We suffer today from food anxiety, bombarded as we are with confusing messages about how to eat an ethical diet. Should we eat locally? Is organic really better for the environment? Can genetically modified foods be good for you?

JUST FOOD does for fresh food what Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) did for fast food, challenging conventional views, and cutting through layers of myth and misinformation. For instance, an imported tomato is more energy-efficient than a local greenhouse-grown tomato. And farm-raised freshwater fish may soon be the most sustainable source of protein.

Informative and surprising, JUST FOOD tells us how to decide what to eat, and how our choices can help save the planet and feed the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eager to dispel the mythology surrounding local and organic foods, historian McWilliams (A Revolution in Eating) outlines the shortcomings of contemporary ideology regarding "food miles" and offers a series of prescriptive ideas for a more just, environmentally sustainable food system. The rational and data-driven argument-presented with chatty asides-tackles the conventional wisdom about transportation, aquaculture, and genetic engineering. McWilliams urges concerned consumers to move beyond the false dichotomies that have come to characterize the debate-global vs. local, abundant vs. deficient, organic vs. conventional-and imagine a middle ground within the existing system, even if it runs the risk of "selling the sustainable soul." He presents thought-provoking ideas about food reform, sulfur fertilizers, and eating meat. At times, McWilliams shortchanges his own arguments by failing to disclose the financial or institutional backing of his sources (including various talking heads, esoteric-sounding think tanks, and scientific journals), leaving readers to comb extensive footnotes and web links to determine how the evidence stacks up. McWilliams's perspective acts as a welcome foil to folksy, romanticized notions of the food revolution, using sound rhetoric and research to synthesize an examination fit for anyone who takes seriously the debate over a sustainable food system.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
McWilliams (History/Texas State Univ.; A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, 2005, etc.) argues for moderation and compromise in today's raging food fights. Until recently, the author was a locavore-one who eats locally produced food. Though he still believes that it is a dietary commitment with many virtues, he argues that it's also a feeble, ineffective way to feed the world's hungry billions. He claims he has no political axe to grind, but he begins with a caricature of the locavores, taking some gratuitous shots at Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry-though he does favorably quote the former later on. Once he's blown away his straw men, McWilliams presents some appealing alternatives to the views of both the agrarian romantics on the left and the agribusiness capitalists on the right. He says that we've exaggerated the importance of the concept of "food miles" (how far-and how expensively-food travels from farm to fork), and he declares that "organic" is appealing and preferable, but wonders how long the earth could accommodate a process that, because of its lower yields, requires more land. The author advocates a judicious use of genetically engineered seeds and food products, believes we must reduce our passion for land-animal protein-it requires far too many resources to produce and pollutes the air, land and water-and urges more attention to the nascent science of aquaponics (fish and plant life grown together in symbiotic cycles). McWilliams then examines political and trade issues and offers more "rational subsidy suggestions"-including government support for crop diversity, aquaponics and seed drilling. He concludes that the best food-production model maybe "a broad pattern of regionally integrated, technologically advanced, middle-sized farms."Rich in research, provocative in conception and nettlesome to both the right and the left. Agent: Jim Hornfischer/Hornfischer Literary Management
Josh Friedland
McWilliams has penned an illuminating account of the evolution of foodways in the colonial Americas.
Washington Post Book World
Meridith Ford Goldman
Enlightening....James E. McWilliams is stirring up trouble, the kind that gets noticed-and the kind that makes us all scratch our heads and think harder....Just Food ultimately offers a brave, solid argument that anyone who cares about their food-and everyone should care about their food-should consider.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mike Shea
McWilliams has guts. Some of the changes he champions will draw fire from all quarters...but he also presents ideas that may appeal to both the greenerati and capitalistas...McWilliams forgoes sloganeering in favor of measured logic, but he doesn't downplay the notion that a worldwide food crisis is imminent and that we had better fix things. Soon.
Texas Monthly
The New Yorker
"McWilliams's examination of the culinary history of Colonial America is more than a....gastronomic tour....A lively and informative read."
Tina Jordan
PRAISE FOR A REVOLUTION IN EATING:

"Fascinating....Anyone curious about the cultural history of that meatloaf on the dinner plate will gobble it up."
— Entertainment Weekly

Tina Jordan - Entertainment Weekly
PRAISE FOR A REVOLUTION IN EATING:

"Fascinating....Anyone curious about the cultural history of that meatloaf on the dinner plate will gobble it up."

Josh Friedland - Washington Post Book World
"McWilliams has penned an illuminating account of the evolution of foodways in the colonial Americas."
Mike Shea - Texas Monthly
"McWilliams has guts. Some of the changes he champions will draw fire from all quarters...but he also presents ideas that may appeal to both the greenerati and capitalistas...McWilliams forgoes sloganeering in favor of measured logic, but he doesn't downplay the notion that a worldwide food crisis is imminent and that we had better fix things. Soon."
Meridith Ford Goldman - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Enlightening....James E. McWilliams is stirring up trouble, the kind that gets noticed-and the kind that makes us all scratch our heads and think harder....Just Food ultimately offers a brave, solid argument that anyone who cares about their food-and everyone should care about their food-should consider."
From the Publisher
"McWilliams has guts. Some of the changes he champions will draw fire from all quarters...but he also presents ideas that may appeal to both the greenerati and capitalistas...McWilliams forgoes sloganeering in favor of measured logic, but he doesn't downplay the notion that a worldwide food crisis is imminent and that we had better fix things. Soon."—Mike Shea, Texas Monthly"

McWilliams presents some appealing alternatives to the views of both the agrarian romantics on the left and the agribusiness capitalists on the right. The author advocates a judicious use of genetically engineered seeds and food products, believes we must reduce our passion for land-animal protein...and urges more attention to the nascent science of aquaponics...He concludes that the best food-production model may be "a broad pattern of regionally integrated, technologically advanced, middle-sized farms." Rich in research, provocative in conception and nettlesome to both the right and the left."—Kirkus Reviews"

Enlightening....James E. McWilliams is stirring up trouble, the kind that gets noticed-and the kind that makes us all scratch our heads and think harder....Just Food ultimately offers a brave, solid argument that anyone who cares about their food-and everyone should care about their food-should consider."—Meridith Ford Goldman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

PRAISE FOR A REVOLUTION IN EATING:"

Fascinating....Anyone curious about the cultural history of that meatloaf on the dinner plate will gobble it up."—Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly"

The lucid style and jaunty tone....make this accessible to all."—Publishers Weekly"

McWilliams has penned an illuminating account of the evolution of foodways in the colonial Americas."—Josh Friedland, Washington Post Book World"

McWilliams's examination of the culinary history of Colonial America is more than a....gastronomic tour....A lively and informative read."—The New Yorker

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316033749
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
08/26/2009
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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