The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Foodby Dan Barber
“Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.” —The Washington Post
Today’s optimistic farm-to-table food culture has a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food. In his visionary New York/b>/i>… See more details below
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“Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.” —The Washington Post
Today’s optimistic farm-to-table food culture has a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food. In his visionary New York Times–bestselling book, chef Dan Barber offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too. Looking to the detrimental cooking of our past, and the misguided dining of our present, Barber points to a future “third plate”: a new form of American eating where good farming and good food intersect. Barber’s The Third Plate charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The chef of the trailblazing farm-to-table restaurant Blue Hill at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, in Pocantico Hills, New York, Barber is also a journalist crusading to help change the culture of American cooking. Blue Hill was the name of his family farm in Massachusetts, informing his early impressions while growing up, and in this multilayered work he aims to address the intrinsics of where food comes from—that is, from “soil,” “land,” “sea,” “seed,” as he divides his chapters. Barber harkens back to the stringent “land ethic” advocated by the American environmentalist Aldo Moro. There was no golden age of American agriculture, Barber asserts, because taming the land both North and South grew into an “exploitative relationship,” involving higher and higher yields and less vigilance to healthy soil management—climaxing horrendously during the so-called dirty ’30s. The value of establishing a viable interconnectedness between technology and ecology ensures that organic farmers are the heroes of this work, people like specialty-grains purveyor Glenn Roberts, who encouraged the author to plant a marvelous ancient Native American corn, Eight Row Flint, that had been farmed to near exhaustion in the early 19th century; New York state planters Klaus and Mary-Howell Martens, who had to cease using pesticides because Klaus was literally being paralyzed, and rediscovered the civilizing and sociable wonders of growing wheat; and a Spanish geese raiser, Eduardo Sousa, who produces foie gras without force feeding. Barber’s work is a deeply thoughtful and—offering a “menu for 2050”—even visionary work for a sustainable food chain. (May)
“[A]uthor Dan Barber's tales are engaging, funny and delicious... The Third Plate invites inevitable comparisons with Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which Barber invokes more than once. And, indeed, its framework of a foodie seeking truth through visits with sages and personal experiments echoes Pollan's landmark tome (not to mention his passages on wheat cultivation, which, astonishingly, best Pollan's corn cultivation chapters by many pages.) But at the risk of heresy, I would call this The Omnivore's Dilemma 2.0... The Third Plate serves as a brilliant culinary manifesto with a message as obvious as it is overlooked. Promote, grow and eat a diet that's in harmony with the earth and the earth will reward you for it. It's an inspiring message that could truly help save our water, air and land before it's too late.”
The Washington Post
"Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.... Barber is helping to write a recipe for the sustainable production of gratifying food."
“There hasn’t been a call-to-action book with the potential to change the way we eat since Michael Pollan’s 2006 release, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Now there is. Dan Barber’s The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food is a compelling global journey in search of a new understanding about how to build a more sustainable food system….The Third Plate is an argument for good rather than an argument against bad. This recipe might at times be challenging, but what’s served in the end is a dish for a better future….Barber writes a food manifesto for the ages.”
The Wall Street Journal:
"Compelling... The Third Plate reimagines American farm culture not as a romantic return to simpler times but as a smart, modern version of it...The Third Plate is fun to read, a lively mix of food history, environmental philosophy and restaurant lore... an important and exciting addition to the sustainability discussion.”
“When The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan’s now-classic 2006 work, questioned the logic of our nation’s food system, 'local' and 'organic' weren’t ubiquitous the way they are today. Embracing Pollan’s iconoclasm, but applying it to the updated food landscape of 2014, The Third Plate reconsiders fundamental assumptions of the movement Pollan’s book helped to spark. In four sections—'Soil,' 'Land,' 'Sea,' and 'Seed'—The Third Plate outlines how his pursuit of intense flavor repeatedly forced him to look beyond individual ingredients at a region’s broader story—and demonstrates how land, communities, and taste benefit when ecology informs the way we source, cook, and eat.”
The New York Times:
"Each grain represents an agricultural virtue: Rye, for example, builds carbon in the soil. Taken together, they argue for a new way of thinking about the production and consumption of food, a 'whole farm' approach that Mr. Barber explores, eloquently and zestfully, in The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food... Mr. Barber’s subjects tend to be colorfully eccentric and good talkers, capable of philosophizing by the yard. To put their efforts in context, Mr. Barber unobtrusively weaves in a hefty amount of science and food history. Readers will put the book down having learned quite a bit... Mr. Barber is a stylish writer and a funny one, too."
Publishers Weekly:“Barber’s work is a deeply thoughtful and–offering a ‘menu for 2050’–even visionary work for a sustainable food chain.”
Vice President Al Gore:
"Dan Barber’s new book, The Third Plate, is an eloquent and thoughtful look at the current state of our nation’s food system and how it must evolve. Barber’s wide range of experiences, both in and out of the kitchen, provide him with a rare perspective on this pressing issue. A must read.”
Ruth Reichl, author of Garlic and Sapphires and Tender at the Bone:
“In this compelling read Dan Barber asks questions that nobody else has raised about what it means to be a chef, the nature of taste, and what 'sustainable' really means. He challenges everything you think you know about food; it will change the way you eat. If I could give every cook just one book, this would be the one.”
Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Command and Control:
"Dan Barber is not only a great chef, he's also a fine writer. His vision of a new food system—based on diversity, complexity, and a reverence for nature—isn't utopian. It's essential."
Malcolm Gladwell, author of David and Goliath and The Tipping Point:
“I thought it would be impossible for Dan Barber to be as interesting on the page as he is on the plate. I was wrong.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction and Field Notes from a Catastrophe:
“The Third Plate is one of those rare books that's at once deft and searching—deeply serious and equally entertaining. Dan Barber will change the way you look at food.”
Eliot Coleman, author of The New Organic Grower and The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook:
"After my first meal at Blue Hill, I paid Dan the ultimate farmer compliment. I told him that he made vegetables taste almost fresher after he had prepared them than when the farmer harvested them. Now I am equally impressed with his writing. Food has stories and Dan tells the stories as well as he cooks. If you want to know about food, read this book."
Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon:
“Dan Barber writes with the restrained lushness with which he cooks. In elegant prose, he argues persuasively that eating is our most profound engagement with the non-human world. How we eat makes us who we are and makes the environment what it is. It all needs to change, and Barber has written a provocative manifesto that balances brave originality and meticulous research. His food is farm-to-table; his eloquent, impassioned book is farm-to-heart."
Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home:
“Dan Barber is as fine a thinker and writer as he is a chef—which is saying a great deal. This book uses its ingredients—the insights of some of the finest farmers on the planet—to fashion something entirely new: a recipe for the future.”
A multiple James Beard Award-winning chef proposes a revolutionary change for growing and consuming food.Moving beyond the organic farming and farm-to-table movements, Blue Hill executive chef Barber argues for the importance of the whole farm: an integrated, biodynamic system that sustains the richness and diversity of land and sea. American agriculture—with its large farm holdings, monoculture and unwieldy machinery—often leads to farmers' lack of intimacy with the land. "It's that lack of intimacy," writes the author, "that leads to ignorance, and eventually to loss." What is lost is taste and nutritional quality. Visiting small American and European farms, Barber learned the importance of nurturing soil that contains "a thriving, complex community of organisms." A carrot grown in earth that contains diverse phytonutrients tastes entirely different from one subject to insecticides and fungicides. Even farms that do not use chemical controls—the so-called "industrial organic" farms—may grow plants in nutrient-poor sandy soil, enriched by organic fertilizer. Barber interweaves food history, conversations with experts in food preparation, production and nutrition, and colorful anecdotes from his travels to farms, restaurants and markets. He tracked down Spaniard Eduardo Sousa, who raises geese for foie gras by allowing them to graze freely on acorns, getting fatter as they do naturally to prepare for migration. Rather than force-feeding, giving geese what they want, Sousa believes, results in exceptional foie gras. "When we allow nature to work, which means when we farm in a way that promotes all of its frustrating inefficiencies—when we grow nature," Barber writes, what we harvest is both abundant and flavorful. The same principles that apply to soil are relevant to the sea, as well; agriculture and aquaculture are not separate entities. Barber's menu for 2050 features baby oat tea; blue wheat brioche; pigs' blood sausage; trout in phytoplankton sauce; and beer ice cream.In this bold and impassioned analysis, Barber insists that chefs have the power to transform American cuisine to achieve a sustainable and nutritious future.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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Meet the Author
DAN BARBER is the executive chef of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm Stone Barns Center for Food&Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in The New York Times, along with many other publications. Barber has received multiple James Beard awards, including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country’s Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
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