Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Barry Estabrook, What Are You Reading?

Earlier this month, the James Beard Foundation Award winners were announced, and Barry Estabrook was the winner in the Individual Food Blog category. On his blog, Politics of the Plate, you’ll always find interesting information about how food is produced and the myriad issues related to its production. This was not Barry’s first James Beard Award. In 2010, he was awarded for his Gourmet feature about tomato growing and associated labor abuses in Florida. That story has led to his upcoming book Tomatoland, to be released in June, which expands on the issue of industrial agriculture and the true costs of growing tomatoes as we do now. He was formerly a contributing editor at Gourmet for eight years and now serves on the advisory board of Gastronomica, The Journal of Food and Culture, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post,,, Saveur, and Men’s Health. I knew I’d hear about some interesting books when I asked, what are you reading?


I got a Kindle for my birthday recently and immediately down loaded Upton Sinclair’s 1906 muckraking masterpiece The Jungle (for free, no less!). It had been decades since I’d read the novel. Having recently reported on the exploitation of workers in Florida’s tomato industry for my book, Tomatoland, I was appalled how many of the abuses Sinclair describes still exist today: below-poverty wages, exploitive slumlords and merchants, crooked bosses, and multimillionaire owners who live far from the conditions they profit from so handsomely. The extremely conservative anti-union movement gives me concern that things will only grow worse.

I live with Rux Martin, who runs the cookery publishing program at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, so needless to say, our house is overflowing with cookbooks. They line the walls floor-to-ceiling in our sunroom, overflow the shelves in the kitchen, and rise in a tottering tower on a counter. There are hundreds of seafood recipes within their covers—most of which call for species that environmentally conscious cooks avoid. What a relief it was, then, to get a copy of Barton Seaver’s For Cod and Country: Simple. Delicious. Sustainable. The book is full of color photographs, both evocative and step-by-step how-to. The recipes are imaginative. And the ingredients are seasonable and sustainable.

Thank you for participating, Barry. Check back to see who answers the question next time and what other books are recommended.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this post with us!



  2. Can't wait to read Barry's new book about the tomato industry. And look forward to his talk this week at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

  3. hy Lisa,
    chanced upon your space while blog hoppping ..very interesting space you have with lovely posts.
    following you in FB...:)
    do stop by mine sometime..

    Tasty Appetite
    Event: Letz Relishh Ice Creams

  4. I've never heard of Barry Estabrook, Lisa, so enjoyed this post. Also, have never read the Sinclair book. Imagine I will read more about him as he promotes his new book.

    The problem with labor unions is a big one. On one hand, I disagree with how they are politicising (sp?) things (as in Wisconsin) but, being from Florida, I am familiar with abuses with the migrant pickers. I hope his book addresses the problem and has some workable solutions.

  5. love these posts,Lisa. I remember reading The Jungle in high school, its too bad there needs to be a sequel, Tomatoland, because of the exact same problems.


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