The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by

Amanda Little


April, 2021



Future of Food




RBC Review
The Fate of Food is one of those books that hurls you back and forth between wonder and shock. From the scale of food waste (a third of all we produce) to the brilliance of vertical farming. From the horror of droughts to the controversial brilliance of GMO. From the disgust of industrial agriculture to the genius of lab-grown meat. Whenever you reach the depths of ‘how are we ever going to get out of this?’ a new, or very old, story of food is shared through an individual human journey and then at scale, that gives you genuine hope and, in the case of 3D printed foods, wide-eyed amazement.

Amanda was an effervescent and generous guest author at our April meetup. Spilling a 1000-words-per-minute (like BPM but author talk) on us, sharing the breadth and depth of her curiosity and experience. I left the conversation hungry; for more ideas about how to fix our broken food systems, for more things I can do in my weekly shop, for more ways to encourage others to explore one of the most important topics of our time.

“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even religion…yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognised.” George Orwell, Road to Wigan Pier (p.260 Fate of Food)

In this fascinating look at the race to secure the global food supply, environmental journalist and professor Amanda Little investigates how we’ll feed humanity sustainably in the coming decades. She weaves together stories from the world’s most creative and controversial innovators on the front lines of food science, agriculture, and climate change.

Climate models show that global crop production will decline every decade for the rest of this century due to drought, heat, and flooding. Water supplies are in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the world’s population is expected to grow another 30 percent by midcentury. So how, really, will we feed nine billion people sustainably in the coming decades?

Amanda Little, a professor at Vanderbilt University and an award-winning journalist, spent three years traveling through a dozen countries and as many U.S. states in search of answers to this question. Her journey took her from an apple orchard in Wisconsin to a remote control organic farm in Shanghai, from Norwegian fish farms to famine-stricken regions of Ethiopia. The race to reinvent the global food system is on, and the challenge is twofold: we must solve the existing problems of industrial agriculture while also preparing for the pressures ahead.

Through her interviews and adventures with farmers, scientists, activists, and engineers, Little tells the fascinating story of human innovation and explores new and old approaches to food production while charting the growth of a movement that could redefine sustainable food on a grand scale. She meets small permaculture farmers and “Big Food” executives, botanists studying ancient superfoods and Kenyan farmers growing the country’s first GMO corn. She travels to places that might seem irrelevant to the future of food yet surprisingly play a critical role–a California sewage plant, a U.S. Army research lab, even the inside of a monsoon cloud above Mumbai. Little asks tough questions: Can GMOs actually be good for the environment–and for us? Are we facing the end of animal meat? What will it take to eliminate harmful chemicals from farming? How can a clean, climate-resilient food supply become accessible to all?

Throughout her journey, Little finds and shares a deeper understanding of the threats of climate change and encounters a sense of awe and optimism about the lessons of our past and the scope of human ingenuity.

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