Plea for book/article suggestions

Ok, so people who know me know that I’m pretty obsessed with food. I always have been. Fortunately lately I’m obsessed with growing food, cooking food, and exploring new food. This is a great improvement over when I was fifteen and obsessed with the calories in food and how to avoid said food without my mother noticing. And it’s also better than my first couple of years of college when I lived on a very limited dorm-food diet (most of my protein came from dairy and eggs because the meat was scary) and was obsessed by fantasies of tasty home-cooked food, particularly my mother’s vegetable soups.

I’m slowly reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and I fully intend to get to Michael Pollan’s two recent food books soon as well. I’ve also been reading a lot of gardening blogs and the great sociology blog on food, critical eating. All of this has me thinking a lot about where food comes from, the connections between farming and the environment, and the general politics of agriculture. Well, I’d like to be thinking about the general politics of agriculture but I don’t really know enough to form any sort of coherent analysis. I know there’s a whole system of subsidies. I know this country has shifted to a lot of factory farming. I know that understanding some of the ins and outs of free trade requires understanding farm policy. But beyond that I’m virtually clueless, which is pretty embarassing given that I grew up surrounded by farmland (though my family never farmed).

Can anyone point me towards good histories of farm policy in this country? I’d like to understand what the current policies are, where they came from, and what interest groups were involved. I don’t really have a clue where to start, short of combing through syllabuses online for pieces that look interesting. Since I’m shortly going to be heading into a period of unemployment and job searching it seems like a good time to put together a reading list to expand my knowledge on the subject.

p.s. Yes, I know, asking for reading suggestions implies that I think I actually have more than a small handful of readers. There is no evidence to support this assumption but I’m an optimist.

3 thoughts on “Plea for book/article suggestions”

  1. Check out the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy ( for useful, accessible information on farm policy. Also, see the online publications of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee. This report is especially useful:

    You’ve inspired me! I’ll post my thoughts on US farm policy/subsidies on Critical Eating soon! (Thanks for the shout-out)


  2. Follow the cooking blog link on my page (Wendy Harrison, You’ll like the way she writes about food.

    The Pollan book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (I think) has references in the bibliography – I can’t check, it’s been loaned out. I haven’t read “In Defense Of Food” yet, but it’s on the todo list. Kitty’s in the middle of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” right now.


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