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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food Hardcover – May 20, 2014
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great all around view from a very candid and self-honest chef. He definitely lets you into his own personal dialogue.Published 22 days ago by Average White Guy
so interesting! dan barber is not only a chef of very delicious food - he's writes a damn good book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Flynn E. Matthews
A great read and a clarion call for sustainability in how we treat the soil, plant and nurture plant growth, harvest and deliver food. Read morePublished 2 months ago by John Bates
Excellent. Almost reads like a novel. The only downside for me is that it leaves me wondering how much flavor I am missing when I use most of what grocery stores provide. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer