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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food Hardcover – May 20, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

DAN BARBER is the executive chef of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in The New York Times, along with many other publications, and he was recently showcased on Netflix's Chef's Table. Barber has received multiple James Beard awards, including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country’s Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

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From Booklist

A groundbreaking chef at one of Manhattan’s first farm-to-table restaurants, Barber shares his vision of good food’s future. Cooking per se doesn’t constitute this chef’s passion. He cares about where foods come from, how they’re grown, and whether they can be harvested into the future. To learn about soil’s role, he visits an organic farm in upstate New York, where an insightful, dedicated farmer diversifies crops and grows for quality and not solely for quantity. A Spanish farmer teaches Barber about producing foie gras without force-feeding. He investigates fisheries. All this leaves Barber with some innovative ideas about how people ought to be eating—a third plate of grains, vegetables, and some meat or fish, all grown with ecological awareness and commitment to sustainability. Such a change from current ideas about dining fast and cheap calls for retraining the public palate away from blandness and uniformity and encouraging eaters to demand unique and distinctive flavors. --Mark Knoblauch
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st edition (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204074
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is one of the most interesting books I have read that discusses everything wrong with our food culture today. That said, it's also one of the most obnoxious. It's packed full of fascinating information about the way our food is grown, and it's worth the read...if you can get past the author's idealism and snobbery.

Let me start off by saying that I had no idea who Dan Barber was until I picked up this book. All of my impressions of him (and his beliefs) are based on what I read in The Third Plate.

The Good: (and I mean REALLY good)

This book essentially examines the relationships between our food and the environment in which it is raised/grown. That sounds simple, and has been looked at before, but this book takes it to a whole new level. I don't think I've EVER read something that managed to turn my beliefs upside down quite the same way this book did. I have a fairly large organic backyard vegetable garden & keep chickens, and before this book I would have called myself an environmentalist. I would have told you I was doing things the *right* way because it's organic, it's local, it's healthy, etc. This book turns those notions upside down. Barber made me really think about how I see "my" garden, "my" chickens, and "my" yard - and start to think of really and truly integrating the things I want to grow with all the other stuff that naturally wants to live there. Barber's ideas aren't terribly original, but he presented them in a way that was completely and utterly fascinating - and certainly made ME re-think my place and my role in growing my own food.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought Michael Pollan’s "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" was pretty much the last word about the food we eat, why we eat it, its cost to our health and the planet’s health, and how we can do better.

I wasn’t alone in that view. But the gold standard is now Dan Barber’s “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food.”

Dan Barber is the chef at Blue Hill at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York and at Blue Hill New York. At those restaurants, as the foodies among you know, Barber has taken farm-to-table dining to its logical extreme — he grows much of the food he cooks. The difference between his meals and the organic cooking of other chefs begins and ends with that fact. His carrots seem to be from a different, finer planet. Ditto his lamb. The wonder is that the source of his otherworldly food is this planet — Barber has found a way to tastes that most of us have never experienced.

“Perhaps no other chef in New York City does as enthusiastic an impersonation of the farmer in the dell as Mr. Barber, and perhaps no other restaurant makes as serious and showy an effort to connect diners to the origins of their food as Blue Hill,” Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times, awarding Blue Hill three stars. “Here the meals have back stories, lovingly rendered by servers who announce where the chanterelles were foraged and how the veal was fed. It’s an exercise in bucolic gastronomy, and it might be slightly cloying if it weren’t so intensely pleasurable.”

Sorry, but it is cloying.
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Format: Hardcover
I wasn't planning to write a review for this book, but I am so surprised by the current 4.7 star rating that I just had to share my perspective.

I enjoyed much of this book. I think Dan Barber is really intelligent and has lots of great ideas about food and agriculture. I think that this book is worth reading if you're interested in those topics and you've already read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. (If you haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma, please start there; it's less pretentious and will be more relevant to most people.) Like Pollan, Barber travels the source to better understand the systems that produce foods, and his discoveries are quite interesting. They might even be revolutionary if they seemed scalable... and that's where the book falls short.

Barber's exclusive focus on haute cuisine makes me wonder how applicable his ideas are to the majority of Americans who don't dine at swanky New York restaurants every night. He seems to believe in a trickle-down food culture where something he puts on his menu will somehow transform the way everyone else eats. He has great ideas about how to create a sustainable menu. In fact, it's probably his insistence on the purest definition of sustainability that makes his ideas seem so unattainable. Unfortunately, I'm just not sure 90% of the country will ever have access to this kind of food. Even as a vegetable gardener and farmers market shopper with a flock of backyard chickens, I felt like most of what he discussed about sustainability was unattainable.

NOTE: I listened to the audio book, which is read by Barber. Despite my complaints above, I really like him. He's thoughtful and sincere. I'd love to sit down and chat with him about how his ideas might find relevance at less than $100 a plate.
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