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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food
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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  5,778 ratings  ·  666 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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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,
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
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
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Our son-in-law is a foodie. While discussing Spanish cooking he mentioned that Spain is prevalent in this book so it peeked my interest. He was right, Spain does play a major part of this book.

The farm to table movement began in the 2000s and Dan Barber, an American chef and farm owner is trying see what is the future of food sustainability. The subtitle on this book, “Field notes on the future of food” says it all. We begin with the growing of a 400-year old corn, that was almost extinct.

The b
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
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.

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
Gretchen Alice
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this deep dive into farming culture and sustainable methods of food production. It's more than that, too. It's a look at why wheat matters, why we're straight up destroying our oceans, and why monoculture farming is so damaging to the land. (If you want a short version of that last part, go watch the "It's Alive: Goin' Places" video on youtube where Brad visits a bison ranch.) The book tends to rely a lot on the influencce of chefs, but since that's Barber's actual job/life, I didn't min ...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
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
Prima Seadiva
Audiobook read by the author.
The biggest problem I had with this book and the food movement today is that it is still mostly for the affluent and privileged. I worked many years in the cooperative food business emphasis on health and integrity . We were perceived as freaks. Today it's gotten to be big business but oops some of the integrity has been put on hold.
The food worker, gardener and cook part of me found the histories about wheat, corn, fish and other foods fascinating but they aren't fo
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. ...more
Mercede Robertson
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an extremely informed, eloquent, albeit dense book about the intricacies of the future of food production and culture.

After watching the episode on Dan on Chef’s Table, and visiting Blue Hill in New York — I was so inspired to learn about his work and beliefs.

Dan tells stories about food that changed the way I’ll think about food and my own culture of eating forever.

Highly recommend!
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book doesn’t have all the answers that I wanted to get from it. Rather, it does a good job of defining a lot of the problems that I wanted answers to, then tracing an outline for the general possible answers to those problems. The Third Plate is a book that should be dry and boring, but because of Dan Barber’s writing turns out to be compelling and even entertaining while dealing with what most would probably consider dull subject matter. For the most part, I really enjoyed the descriptive ...more
Carolyn McBride
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
It staggers me to consider how much I learned from this book, not the least of which is the wheat I know has an ancestor that was native to the prairie, and perennial with roots up to 22 feet deep. Consider that for a moment -- roots were commonly 22 feet deep. That's like...tree depth but on wheat! Now ponder the fact that in the rush to settle that same prairie, the native wheat was ripped up, cast aside, the land ploughed up and a different, annual breed of wheat was planted. Only this wheat ...more
Jess Smoll
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So many other books about food and the systems which produce it focus on all the things gone horrible wrong: GMOs, factory farming, animal torture, uniformity, waste, over-saturation of fertilizers, soil loss, etc. They talk a little about flavor, nutrition, and the benefits of natural, organic, sustainable farming, but their hopefulness always seems like an aside to the rest of the overwhelming message of how we've broken the ecosystems of farms.

Not this one. The Third Plate is a well-written
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.
I'm still not 100% sure what the third plate is. I *think* it means eating in a way that is less wasteful. Instead of cherry-picking the best cut of beef or the prettiest, most well-known fruits and vegetables, consumers and chefs should make a bigger effort to eat the whole farm: Lesser cuts of beef, homelier fish, and humble grains such as oats and barley.

This book was sometimes hard to take. The author, a chef himself, is big on buying local and supporting small to midsize farms, and I would
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!! ...more
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
I read this for an assignment with my MSLIS class on Info Services to Diverse Populations. I read both the audio (narrated by Barber) and in print. Here are some excerpts from my book review paper for class:

A food magazine enlisted Dan Barber to depict the future of American cuisine by sketching out a dish. He decided his drawing would represent an evolution to a more sustainable cuisine through three different plates. The first plate represents the high yield industrialized monoculture farming
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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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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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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.” 11 likes
“After a glass of fino, warm bread was served. It was dark green and smelled overwhelmingly of the sea. “Plankton bread,” said the server, but he didn’t have to. I had heard about Ángel’s signature bread, with its homemade brew of phytoplankton, which Ángel had a laboratory grow for him. “You mix the yeast with the plankton,” he said, “and it gives you a 70 percent better rise in the dough.” 3 likes
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