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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,893 Ratings  ·  502 Reviews
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, ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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John Mcdonald
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
I loved this book.

As a professor of environmental science at a small college, I've been trying to raise awareness of the environmental costs of our modern food system for many years now. But when my students have asked for alternatives, I've felt like I've been oversimplifying things with answers about CSA's and farmers markets. I love how this book really tackles the complexities of sustainable food production. While there is some hope out there, it is not a simple task.

Dan Barber explains how
The grace and fluency with which James Beard Award-winning Chef Barber relates his experiences in his Blue Hill restaurant in New York City, walking the fields of his Stone Barns organic farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and in his travels to Europe and throughout the United States left me wide-eyed with wonder. This extraordinary memoir and field notes is engrossing in a way that few writers achieve. Barber is gentle in his instruction, but he is telling us what he has learned about the ...more
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is like a hybrid of Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), Michael Pollan (the Omnivore's Dilemma), and ... Donald Trump. Barber is a prizewinning chef at a ultra-ultra restaurant and has won multiple James Beard awards, including the country's outstanding chef of 2009. He also has the ego to match.

Barber quite correctly points out that our current, faddish obsession with farm-to-table is not sustainable. In his telling, contemporary American cuisine has traveled through two phases,
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the parts of this book that were descriptive rather than persuasive. I loved learning about the innovative agriculture methods being used, or the start-of-chapter profiles of the farmers being visited.

But the persuasive parts -- they were so bad.

This book was riddled with bad science. Poor arguments, manipulative stats, biased wording. I've pulled a couple of quotes to illustrate my point.

First, from a chapter discussing the necessary breeding of wheat to select for yield in or
Jul 01, 2014 rated it liked it
As interesting and well-written as it is, I still wonder for whom this book was written. The foods discussed end-up being unaffordable for many, if not most, people. What good is a food revolution that is targetted to those who already have their pick of the best food available?
Josh Mattson
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
This was an astounding read! I must say it was made even sweeter by previously seeing Dan Barber speak about his recent publication, and then also being the first in line to secure his new book on the hold-shelf at the local library.

I had been hoping to read a book of this caliber for quite some time now, without knowing it was out even there. This was due to a number of recent questions that were beginning to pop into my head like bubble gum. What is the status and health of the wheat being gr
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am a sucker for any well reasoned book about food politics, and, like a good meal, this one more than satisfies.

Dan Barber is the chef at Blue Hill at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York, and at his city restaurant called Blue Hill New York. At these restaurants, he goes beyond the farm-to-table ethic now proliferating by actually growing much of the food he cooks. When I picked up The Third Plate, I anticipated something that might build on The Omnivor
Kenny Leck
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that doesn't just define what we, how we eat but more importantly, it determines what we grow for our children, their children, and their children's children.

AJ Calhoun
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
While in many ways The Third Plate is comparable to In Defense of Food or The Omnivore's Dilemma, Dan Barber is certainly not, as some have hailed him, the next Michael Pollan. Third Plate is a fascinating, at times rambling food memoir in the truest sense. It follows through with its subtitle of "field notes," sometimes feeling like one restaurateur's long indulgent marketing project. This is not to say The Third Plate is not worth a read, certainly it is the strongest book in this genre to hit ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you love food as much as I do and learning how a chef thinks, researches and approaches aspects of putting together good quality products then this one is for you. I really enjoyed the breakdown on items from the sea, land, earth, soil description and the many conversations he had with other chefs, fishermen, farmers and the like. Not to mention his visits to Spain (perhaps that conjured up my own memories of visits and their food culture? haha)Wonderfully engaging and gives one pause even as ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in Durango, I certainly know some folks with what I consider to be very extreme. . .militant even. . .views about their dietary choices. Lacking a Biblical worldview, it is clear to me that these people have made food, or their flavor of environmentalism, their religion and many of them are angry zealots. I have been treated with utter disdain by a cashier at a local health food store for buying animal products. My friend, Stephanie, had a total stranger grab her face, peer into her eyes ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's absolutely unfair that one of the best chefs in the country is also such a fabulous writer. Barber is engaging, astute, and optimistic. He tells his story here through a series of character profiles (an organic grain and dairy farmer, an obsessed Spanish seafood chef, an ecologically aware sea bass farmer [also in Spain--this book made me want to visit Spain], a lowcountry rice cultivator [shout-out to South Carolina where I live!], and a midwestern wheat breeder. In this character and stor ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environmental, food
If you’ve heard of Dan Barber’s The Third Plate but haven’t picked it up, now’s a good time.

The way to make western eating sustainable, according to Barber, is not just a matter of grass-fed or free-range… what we need is an overhaul of the ingredients and food types we choose. The third plate features second and third cuts, lesser shellfish, a larger variety of grains, and other unpopular or untapped items that present a manageable ecological burden. By encouraging readers to appreciate the re
This book is my choice for 2014 non-fiction, food category. I just voted and I hope it wins. The author certainly deserves it. It is not only full of amazing research, life experiences, meetings of fantastic people who are agents of change but also beautifully written. While it presents a complex web of relations in growing food for the planet, it does so in an incredible accessible, amusing, graceful manner in no way oversimplifying anything. It is a must read for everybody and should make its ...more
Sarah Sternby
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I read an advanced paperback edition and I don't have anything bad to say. There wasn't any deep or confusing plot line to follow so I could pick up wherever I had last read while I was waiting for my brother's lacrosse practice to end. Perfect for any busy person.

Having grown up in a family where my mother was going from fad diet to fad diet, it was interesting to get a different perspective on how what we put into our bodies is changing. There are so many books and
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've had this book since last spring and just now got around to reading it. I enjoyed this book. It was quite fascinating. The author is a chef, who not only creates great food, but he also cares about great tasting food, even if it isn't considered chic. In this book he hones in on foodie trends, sustainability, GMOs, and creating a market for better tasting varieties of everything.

Sometimes this book felt long, but for the most part, I was glued to it. It has me even wondering what I can do d
Seth Ross
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the most inspiring and life changing books I have read. Completely changed my mind about so many practices I do in my gardens and how growing food, eating and being a consumer are completely interrelated. My gardening practices will change, with more thought to how I can build healthy soil and therefore create incredible flavor. Great ideas for a world desperately in need of a new agricultural ethos.
So I got most of the way through this and I could ignore his smarminess and I could ignore the way he breathlessly states basic facts as if we are all just learning them and I could ignore the way that His Farm in New York is just the Best Place Ever, but then he got to a part where he started rhapsodizing about the sad loss of the "farming system" (?!) of the antebellum South and that was the straw that broke the camel's back and I had to stop.
Jeff C. Kunins
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
foodie must-read

thanks much to Omar Shahine for the recommendation on this one. super fun , informative, not at all self-aggrandizing by Barber, etc. Only downside is now we *really* have to make it to the restaurant. asap. :)
Ken Schroeder
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
I don't believe the writing was worth 5*, but the ideas hidden behind there will forever change the way I look at food and it's role in our culture and even how I look at non-fiction. Steve Jones!!
Jenna (Falling Letters)
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, 2015
Review originally posted 23 February 2015 Falling Letters.
"But we weren’t addressing the larger problem. The larger problem, as I came to see it, is that farm-to-table allows, even celebrates, a cherry-picking of ingredients that are often ecologically demanding and expensive to grow. Farm-to-table chefs may claim to base their cooking on whatever the farmer’s picked that day [...], but whatever the farmer has picked that day is really about an expectation of what will be purchased that day. […]
Max Ritter
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
(8.5/10) Finally- somebody elegantly presents a controversial opinion I've held for a while (at least, it's a hot take in the farming community): organic farming is objectively good on paper, but in practice it has simply become "premium eating" for the privileged. It is not an effective way to change how we eat, or to have a positive impact on the planet.

This book uses interesting anecdotes and examples to flesh out serious issues in food and agriculture. It brilliantly shows that the debates a
Julieann Wielga
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Third Plate, Field Notes on the Future of Food is rich in ideas.
This is not a short book. It is 445 pages. 2015
Dan Barber is a chef and as it turns out a writer. He is the owner of Blue Hill in Manhatten and restaurant is Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Fingerling area of New York, a farm to table restaurant.
Many things that seemed simple are not.
There are four sections: soil, land, sea and seed.
Barber credits chefs with setting the expectations for what we eat. He gives chefs a lot of power
Christina Houen
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Third Plate by Dan Barber is a book that explores and celebrates a revolutionary way of growing food and of cooking and eating it . Revolutionary, yet old. Perhaps many of our revolutions are that, when you consider the etymology of the word, from the Latin, revolvere, 'roll back'.

Dan Barber is "the Chef of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm and education center, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture."
The Third Plate is a great read, especially if you, like me, want an accessible, non-preachy, and well rounded look at the food industry and culture. When I say non-preachy or well rounded, I don't mean the book doesn't have leanings towards certain viewpoints, but that within the genre of non-fiction writing about food and how we eat food or how we related to the environment, Dan Barber does a good job of trying to cover more angles than most other writers with a singular goal (in his case, him ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, cooking
For me, this was a very thought provoking, entertaining book. I read some of the reviews, saying how he's in a privileged position and therefore can afford all these organic, locally sourced foods. This is true, but we can also take it down to a more personal scale of trying to grow even a little bit of our own food, or at least try and learn more about where our food comes from and what methods were used to acquire the food.

Barber infused the stories with humour while being informative. Bourda
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely revolutionary book which has left me utterly enthused and filled with ideas on how I can help change the world. Barber avoids all preaching, instead focussing on guiding us through his personal journey. Aided by a sparkling array of influential people, his accounts are deeply personal and reflective, displaying his strong grasp of the ecological, economic and the gastronomic. This book remains positive all the way through and makes changing the way we interact with food seem manage ...more
Sergio Aguilar
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Reconozco que Dan Barber logra con su libro retomar la conexión romántica del hombre con la tierra a través de los alimentos. En varias ocasiones del libro consideré dejar todo y vivir de la tierra (probablemente en una comuna). Me quedo con el valor de rotar cultivos, integrar modelos de ecosistemas y cambiar el modelo de monocultivo actual.

Si bien Barber explora ideas sumamente interesantes, creo que al presentarlas lo hace con argumentos débiles que parecen ser meramente su opinión.

Me gustó
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have read enough food-industry exposés and food politics books now that I now recognize a lot of the familiar stories: the post-WWI spread of chemical fertilizers, Cecile Steele’s accidental founding of the Delmarva chicken industry, the imminent extinction of the bluefin tuna, etc. But Barber knows he’s not the first to tell these stories, and thankfully his book is more than just a primer on the history of our food system. What is more interesting are the people who he finds, who are doing v ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Michael Pollan recommended this, so I decided to check it out. It has some really cool ideas about the future of sustainable food. At times, it's a bit of a "foodie" book, so I wasn't really diggin that. But I did end up taking lots of notes.

Fave clips:
The best kind of farming can not be reduced to a set of rules.

It takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef.

Wheat covers more acreage worldwide than any other crop. Veggies and fruits cover 8%.

While the bran and the germ represen
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Dan Barber (born 1969) is a chef and owner of several restaurants including Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. He is a 1992 graduate of Tufts University, where he received a B.A. in English, and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, now known as The International Culinary Center.
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“The greatest lesson came with the realization that good food cannot be reduced to single ingredients. It requires a web of relationships to support it.” 7 likes
“In the rush to industrialize farming, we’ve lost the understanding, implicit since the beginning of agriculture, that food is a process, a web of relationships, not an individual ingredient or commodity.” 4 likes
More quotes…