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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future…
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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food

by Dan Barber

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I was required to read this book for an Anthropology course at my university, and I found the content interesting and accessible. However, at times I found that Barber's writings a tad elitist and lacking a general care towards the political and economic sides of the agricultural debate (though this is one of my personal critiques of Anthropology as a discipline, Barber's narration as an acclaimed chef adds to this void). Regardless, the text investigates contemporary attitudes to "fixing the food problem" in far more depth and realism than the flashy videos often appearing on Facebook feeds. A worthwhile read, my demerits towards it are characteristic of the academic qualities I assign to reviews of this matter. ( )
  MarchingBandMan | May 31, 2017 |
In the past decade, I've read many food manifestos, but I think this is the first I've read that was written by a professional chef. As far as Dan Barber's experience and expertise is from my own, I wasn't sure how much I would be able to relate, but my hesitation was completely unfounded. Barber's is a wonderful perspective to have. If you've ever seen Dan Barber give a TED Talk or other keynote presentation, then you know how great of a storyteller he is. He's so good that I'd already heard a couple of the stories featured in The Third Plate from watching Barber talks, and reading them again was just as thrilling as when I heard them the first time. The writing is top-notch. He gets into technical agricultural speak, but as a non-farmer retelling how he came to learn much of this stuff himself, he does so in a way that anyone can understand.

For the reader already invested in a food-and-farming revolution, you must read Dan Barber. (For everyone else, read some Michael Pollan first and come back to Barber once you're ready to join the revolution.) ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
So interesting! ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
I'm wicked jealous of Dan Barber; not only is he a renowned chef, but damn, can he write! This book, about looking for more sustainable ways of producing, cooking and eating food, manages to balance eloquence with nuance and realism with optimism. Most notably, he urges people (including himself and other chefs) to look beyond the locavore and farmer's market trends, to think more conscientiously about how to nurture the ecosystems and communities behind our food, and to broaden our concepts of what we consider food. At the same time, the farmers and researchers he profiles generally don't claim to have any grand solutions, which to me make their efforts more credible and more inspiring. Too bad I work in a preschool and therefore can't afford to eat the way Barber cooks! ( )
  bostonian71 | Nov 29, 2015 |
This week, my newsfeed had a trailer for a documentary that apparently blasts some of the leading environmental organizations for failure to rail against hamburgers. Several other headlines informed me that eating beef results in more greenhouse emissions than driving a car, apparently extrapolating from a study recently published in the journal Climatic Change. And Elizabeth Kolbert writes in the New Yorker of her week-long experiment with the trendy paleo diet and laments the damage so much meat eating could have on the climate.

Never in human history have we been presented with such an an abundance of food choices as at the average U.S. supermarket, and never before have we seen so much hand-wringing about what to eat. As Dan Barber reminds us in The Third Plate, only a few generations ago, human diets were largely restricted to what the local region produced. Cuisine and culture were intrinsically linked to place.

In recent years, the farm-to-table movement featuring prominent chefs such as Mr. Barber, has sought to reacquaint diners with the sources of their food. Farmers' markets have proliferated and the term"locavore" is in the dictionary. In my small town, several restaurants proudly list the nearby farms and producers contributing to their menus.

Yet the resulting "second plate" of farm-to-table goodness still closely resembles the "first plate" it aimed to replace, which at the American table is meat-centric and flanked by a limited supporting cast. Mr. Barber envisions a "third plate" representing a sort of nose-to-tail for the whole farm, incorporating and starring crops that currently may not be beloved, or even known, to diners but are important to the ecology of the land. Chefs, he says, can use their skills to create demand for these oft-discarded goodies, from the bycatch of tuna nets to the cover crops of wheat fields.

Few chefs are better positioned to expound on this than Mr. Barber, who incorporates a farm and educational center as part of his flagship restaurant north of New York City. Nearly all of his journeys to investigate spectacular foodstuffs result in an experimental planting or livestock introduction at the farm, and the mouth-watering prose in which he describes these experiments may have some readers vowing to never again cook polenta until they, too, can get their hands on some Eight Row Flint corn.

If this planet is to support 9 billion humans by mid-century without absolutely devastating every other species, we must get over our predilection to "eat high on the hog." Unfortunately, so many previous calls to mend our dietary ways -- whether the motive is to improve health, environment, economy or even mood -- have led many to equate virtuous eating with limitation. Mr. Barber, thankfully, is an immensely talented chef who refuses to sacrifice flavor for virtue, and he makes a convincing case (one I wish I could taste for myself at his restaurant) that such a compromise is unnecessary. ( )
  Sharon.Flesher | Jul 13, 2015 |
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"Renowned chef Dan Barber introduces a new kind of cuisine that represents the future of American dining in THE THIRD PLATE. Barber explores the evolution of American food from the "first plate," or industrially-produced, meat-heavy dishes, to the "second plate" of grass-fed meat and organic greens, and says that both of these approaches are ultimately neither sustainable nor healthy. Instead, Barber proposes Americans should move to the "third plate," a cuisine rooted in seasonal productivity, natural livestock rhythms, whole-grains, and small portions of free-range meat. Barber's book charts a bright path for eaters and chefs alike towards a healthy and sustainable future for American cuisine"--… (more)

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