A few things I’ve read lately… (or not so lately… some of these books have been out 10 years) -ed

Taco USA, Gustavo Arellano: Gustavo explores the history of Mexican food in America, and I’ll be the first to admit I learned a lot from this enjoyable account. Growing up where I did, the peculiar strain of Americanized Mexican food seemed unchanging and eternal. This read through the past has changed my perspective on the present and future, which matters to me as both a consumer and avocado farmer. And it has caused me to eat more tacos.

Food Matters, Mark Bittman: Where Michael Pollan’s books are general, Mark Bittman gets specific. Half the book is actually dedicated to recipes and specific food recommendations and ideas. Not really a cookbook, but an outline of food choices and possibilities. Where Pollan tends to direct his fire at corn, Bittman looks more closely at the impacts of large scale animal agriculture. Paired with In Defense of Food, you get a pretty comprehensive overview and some actual structure for action.

The Snowball, Alice Schroeder: This bio of investor Warren Buffet provides a glimpse at some of the previous market scares and recessions, from the vantage point of a man with a unique perspective and ringside seats. Unlike most bios, I actually found the subject somewhat smaller after reading it, though.

Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman: The man with the mustache looks at the role that green energy could play in our environment, our economy and our foreign affairs.

The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson: While the name implies a History, this book is really more of an illustration of our present system, with a look back to its origins. The mosts striking part for many readers may be the central questions of  “What is money?”, and “what gives it value?”

In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan: OK, so this was a second time reading it for me, but I went back to it looking for more perspective on the role policy has played in shaping our food choices. Not surprisingly, it is significant.  The book offers guidelines on approaching food that fly in the face of food policy, and unites consumer food choices to health and farm practices.

The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan: Primarily a look at the human tolls of the 1930’s Dust Bowl, but it also struck me as a cautionary tale of the bad policy decsions that lead to reckless practices of the 1920’s.

The Long Tail, Chris Anderson: A great look at “Long Tail Theory” and its implications for marketing of all manner of products, but most specifically niche products. Artisanal food products only receive passing mention, but the application to this space is quite clear.

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