| This is coming a little bit too late, even for you last minute shoppers. But maybe you can go hit the after Christmas sales, or exchange all of the Chia Pets and Snuggies you receive for some of the books on this list.
If you haven't read them:
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
These are the first two books ANYONE should read about food. They make so many points so clearly. It's not just about the information that is in them, but about how well they are written and how the reader feels as he or she reads them. These books make people "get it." If you're trying to "convert" a difficult relative who keeps serving you cranberry sauce out of a can at every holiday, buy them these. And if they aren't the reading type, get them a copy of Food, Inc. because that's kind of like these two books in one, except in movie form.
After someone has read those, here are the next 8 books that should be on their bookshelf:
3. The War on Bugs by Will Allen: Where did industrial ag come from, REALLY? And why DO we use pesticides? This book traces it all the way back to late medieval Europe, and then very carefully chronicles the rise of pesticide use in the U.S. Whereas other books (including my own) go back to World War 1 or 2, Allen goes back to the 1800's by reading farm journals from those times. Totally fascinating, and mandatory reading.
4. Teaming with Microbes: A Gardeners Guide to the Soil Food Web: Why does organics work? What is happening, from a scientific point of view, in the soil and above ground? This book tells it all in such a clear way that even non-scientists and non-gardeners can understand it. If you're giving a book as a gift, give this to a gardener. Non-gardeners really just need the Cliff's notes version of this info.
5. Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe: Want to understand seafood? Read this. The book was described to me as "The Omnivore's Dilemma of Fish" and it truly is. If you eat fish or shellfish AT ALL, read this book. It will make you mad though. It will also put a serious crimp in your ability to enjoy seafood.
6. Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel: Patel is one of my absolute favorite speakers and writers. He's been all over the world and he clearly shows what's going on not just in the U.S. but around the world. Why are a billion people starving and a billion people overweight? What's the cause of such inequality. That's what this book explains.
7. Appetite for Profit by Michele Simon: Read this one no matter what, but ESPECIALLY read it if you have kids. And give it as a gift to anyone you know who has kids. Simon tells exactly how marketers and food companies are screwing us while simultaneously trying to look like the good guys. Much of the book's content focuses on children, although the book is not exclusively about kids and marketing to kids.
8. The End of Overeating by David Kessler: Why would an intelligent adult who wants to be attractive and healthy binge on an entire pint of ice cream or bag of chips, despite a strong desire not to? Why do some of us just totally lose control around junk food? Kessler goes into the actual neuroscience behind this and then tells exactly how the food industry exploits that. Amazing!
9. Recipe for America by me: I can't help adding this to the list even though it's probably a taboo to do that. But the book will give you a basic understanding of the legal system that governs food and what is already happening (or isn't happening) to try and change it.
10... What do you recommend? Please add your own favorite foodie books in the comments!