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Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love Hardcover – November 10, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Simran Sethi] looks at ways in which monoculture and an increasingly standardized global diet put food systems in peril and leave crops vulnerable to blight and climate change.” (Wall Street Journal)

“In Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Sethi describes how, in recent years, environmental and economic forces have decreased biodiversity and threatened the existence of some of our favorite foods and beverages.” (Boston Globe)

“Our tables … are never really of, or for, one, as Sethi elegantly shows us.” (NPR)

“Bread, wine, chocolate-three things many of us refuse to live without. But, as Simran Sethi tells us in her new book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, we might have to.” (Acquired Taste)

“Read this wonderful book and you will become immersed in the intricate worlds of no less than six (delicious) foods and drinks. It is about our relationships with the life forms that sustain us—and how we might learn to approach those relationships with far more love, compassion, and good taste.” (Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine)

“Simran Sethi’s passionate book on food and biodiversity reminds us how healing food can be. The world is on our plate.” (Deepak Chopra, M.D.)

“A powerful reminder that we can eat in ways that don’t cause damage to the planet or its poorest people--and that can delight us, not just fill us up. Don’t read it on an empty stomach!” (Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy)

“A passionate plea to save and restore the things most precious about our food—its myriad flavors and its connection with nature. As global economic forces slowly squeeze the uniqueness out of what we eat, Simran Sethi explores the delicate culinary delights that offer hope, and deliciousness, for the future.” (John McQuaid, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat)

“A stirring call to arms for anyone who loves food!” (Andrea Reusing, James Beard award-winning chef and author of Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes)

“Should be required reading for culinary students, journalists, scholars and citizens who care about what they put into their mouths and what we’re doing to Mother Earth. Sethi is the kind of writer who can coat the bitter pill in honey and we all just swallow and say thank you.” (Linda West Eckhardt, James Beard award-winning cookbook author, Editor/Founder of Everybody Eats News)

“In this illuminating and impactful book, Simran Sethi sheds light on the dwindling diversity of our diets and our landscapes through the stories of our most beloved tastes. Bread, Wine, Chocolate calls on all of us to cherish—and thus preserve—the world’s endangered flavors.” (Dan Barber, chef/co-owner of Blue Hill and New York Times bestselling author of The Third Plate)

“Read this and you will understand that cuisine is how we kiss the world. There is more good news: it kisses back.” (Paul Hawken, New York Times bestselling author of Natural Capitalism and Blessed Unrest)

“By turns explorer and explainer, Simran Sethi conducts a thoughtful and heartfelt tour of humanity’s most beloved tastes—and the threats that could extinguish them forever.” (Michael Brune, executive director, Sierra Club)

Bread, Wine, Chocolate is for anyone who has ever longed for a richer understanding of the foods you love, and for greater awareness of what it takes to bring them to you.” (Kaelyn Riley, Experience Life Magazine)

“In a new book, author Simran Sethi argues that we are facing one of the most radical shifts in food ever.” (Smithsonian Magazine)

“[Sethi] writes with a deep understanding of pleasure and taste to convey her urgent message – we must make uncompromising, purposeful choices when it comes to what we eat before it’s too late!” (Alice Waters, chef, author and the proprietor of Chez Panisse)

“...Simran Sethi’s new book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, an excellent look at loss of biodiversity through something that we all know, and love, well: food.” (Paste Magazine)

“Simran Sethi... argues convincingly about the deep importance of these humble foods that human beings have been imbibing for millennia.” (Civil Eats)

Bread, Wine, Chocolate is full of wonderfully geeky bits of science, including an excellent section on how memory and culture influences our perception of taste. But Sethi’s friendly, welcoming tone makes serious topics digestible and pleasurable.” (Associated Press)

About the Author

Simran Sethi is a journalist and an associate at the University of Melbourne's Sustainable Society Institute and the former host of the PBS Quest series on science and sustainability. Her work has appeared on NBC Nightly News, PBS, Oprah, MSNBC, the History Channel, and NPR. She was the national environmental correspondent for NBC News, the anchor/writer of Sundance Channel's first dedicated environmental programming, and the host of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary A School in the Woods.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (November 10, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061581070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061581076
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harriet Lerner on November 10, 2015
Format: Hardcover
I confess buying this book for the most superficial of reasons. The cover is gorgeous so I thought it would make a good holiday gift for several science-minded friends who are interested in the global food and agricultural crisis. True, But to my surprise, it reads like a page-turning novel. The author writes like a dream, and she leaves the reader with an intimate and changed relationship to the foods and drinks (e.g. bread, wine, beer, chocolate, coffee) that delight us. A warning: If you love octopus (on the plate) you may be compelled to examine your heart and eat, say, tilapia instead. What the book jacket says is true: "This is a book about food, but it's really a book about love."
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book--so much that it's going to be a few people's holiday gifts this year.

I felt like I was at a wonderful dinner party where very knowledgeable guests were talking about food--minus any kind of food-snobbery!

The book isn't about what you should or shouldn't eat, instead it's talking about how we don't realize that while we feel like we have so many options to choose from food has really become much less diverse. Sectioned off into Wine, Chocolate, Beer, Bread, Coffee, and Octopus, Preeti Simran Sethi weaves her connection with the foods with trips to farms, restaurants and conversations with really interesting and food passionate people in a way that never left me feeling bored.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There was a large gap in the public conversation of food and the Earth that this book fills. This is not only a book about perhaps three of the most beloved foods but a book about people and how we treat each other and where it might get us. Sethi has gone out to really do the job of a true journalist. A job whose morals seem to have diminished in our current society.
Intelligent, thoughtful and thought provoking. This book will be a part of curriculums for years to come.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book so much that I went on a (ultimately futile) hunt for the wine showcased in the chapter on wine. I see this book as a genre buster, really, as it is part very rigorous science, part personal journey. Personally, I'm a great respecter of science, and a lover of personal journey books of all types, so the combo here was delicious (actually, in more ways than one--you could taste the chocolate while you were reading about it). I would recommend this book to anyone who also lives in these two worlds. The book is about the 'slow loss" of these things, of course, and that carries with it an undercurrent of melancholy. But that does not take away from the joy of the read, for sure. Loved it.
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This book opens with "Love After Love" by Derek Walcott --a dizzying love poem about loving yourself-- and it never lets go of your heart. This is more than a book about food-- it's a travelogue, a book of personal revelations, and one of the most joyous pieces of persuasive writing I've read. This is about saving the planet, yes, but unlike other pieces on that topic, it's just an irresistible read. If you love food, wine, people, and/or good writing, you will hug this book to your chest (stomach?) and keep it so close. Worth it to have this one on my shelf-- it not only reminds me of what we love, and why, and how, it reminds me how I want to write, too.
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Format: Hardcover
Tasting foods and drinks will never be the same again. I learned so much about the difference between taste and flavor, and I can't wait to have a tasting party with my friends. Simran's writing is engaging and smart, with incredible food detours to places like the coffee forests of Ethiopia and the yeast cultures lab in England. As I was reading, I felt like I was transported to those places with her, learning alongside her as she harvested her first cacao pod and tasted the first beer she ever truly liked. But what I couldn't stop thinking about after I put the book down were all of the inspiring people Simran met who are working to save the biodiversity of the foods we love most, foods I never knew were in danger at all.
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Format: Hardcover
Before reading Sethi’s book, I admittedly didn’t give much thought about the variety or origin of foods available to me. Grocery stores are filled with hundreds of options so I didn’t understand the concept of losing variety. Any curiosity for the foods I regularly consumed was a fleeting “I should Google that later” mentality. Taking this global journey with Sethi, I learned that there are literally thousands of varieties of the foods I love, I haven’t even tried – or knew existed. But more than that – I may never get to.
With seamless ease, Sethi weaves interviews with scientists, growers, and conservationists with her own personal growth and discoveries. Covering a broad range of information, each section of the book is carefully structured with history, cultural impact, and an unrivaled depth of flavor. I’ve read numerous books that felt preachy or condescending to the uninformed consumer, but this book is truly impactful without feeling agenda-driven. Sethi admits that she was like me at the start of the book; new to learning about the foods we are addicted to. Being able to relate and identify with her while traveling to lush forests and vineyards, made it feel like I was experiencing everything first hand. I don’t want to lose depth or complexity of the coffee I can’t live without.
Sethi makes me want to grow a garden full of produce not available at the store, know the origin of every food I taste, and protect diversity by understanding my power as a consumer. This book is more than just statistics on our diets, facts on the species that we are losing everyday (though those are truly eye opening), but a deeply personal quest to find answers at the source. The people who touch the food that I eat have never felt closer, and I have never been more grateful for their effort.
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