Book Review: Food: The New Gold

wed2013Food: The New Gold by Kathlyn Gay. August 2012.  9780761346074. Gr. 7-12

Think. Eat. Save.  This year on June 5th World Environment Day asks people to think about the connection between their food and the environment.  There are many books on this subject for young people.  I’ve blogged about some of them here and a few more here, and this year in honor of World Environment Day, I created a list of books at all levels for librarians and teachers to consider as they encourage their students to address global issues like hunger, conservation, and food production.  One of the stand-out titles from that list is Food: The New Gold by Kathlyn Gay.

foodnewgoldThis book attempts to make clear that our food supply is a complex issue that factors in to a wide range of decisions.  It begins with hunger.  Chapter 1 begins with a striking photograph of a grimy young boy holding an empty plate after a 2010 flood in Pakistan led to widespread food shortages in that region.   Next to the photo is a description of a conference held by world leaders  in Japan as they discussed food security around the world, which included a lavish feast that was roundly criticized in the media for its apparent hypocrisy.  Even if we are inclined to agree with the criticism in that situation, there isn’t much agreement in how to solve the larger issues.

Food politics often divides people sharply.  Many support factory farming and genetically modified crops because they believe these practices are the best way to produce enough food to feed everyone.  Others oppose those practices in favor of organic farms citing environmental and health concerns.  Kathlyn Gay maintains a balanced tone throughout the book as she gives voice to both sides of the debate.

The epilogue looks ahead to the future of food as it addresses sustainable farming practices and alternative sources of food that may be in our future.  Are your students willing to eat insects?  I don’t blame them if the answer is no, even if insects are nutritious and sustainable.  But what are they willing to do?  This book is an open invitation to think about the issues behind our food and make choices that will create a better environment for us all.  The folks behind World Environment Day certainly agree with this message, and they encourage everyone to start with a very simple action: minimize food waste.

Or as they say: “So think before you eat and help save our environment!”

Don’t miss my World Environment Day 2013 book list for more titles to includes in your related book displays or bibliographies about food, farming, and sustainability.