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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food Paperback – 6 Nov 2014


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The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food + The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World (reissued) + In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating: An Eater's Manifesto
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (6 Nov. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408706504
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408706503
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The Third Plate will revolutionise the way we eat. It charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for food that is as sustainable as it is delicious.

From the Back Cover

'I thought it would be impossible for Dan Barber to be as interesting on the page as he is on the plate. I was wrong' Malcolm Gladwell

Based on ten years of surveying farming communities around the world, top New York chef Dan Barber's The Third Plate offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste incredible.

The 'first plate' was a classic meal centred on a large cut of meat with few vegetables. On the 'second plate', championed by the farm-to-table movement, meat is free-range and vegetables are locally sourced. It's better-tasting, and better for the planet, but the second plate's architecture is identical to that of the first. It, too, disrupts ecological balances, causing soil depletion and nutrient loss - it just isn't a sustainable way to farm or eat.

The 'third plate' offers a solution: an integrated system of vegetable, cereal and livestock production that is fully supported - in fact, dictated - by what we choose to cook for dinner. The Third Plate is where good farming and good food intersect.

'Barber is a stylish writer and a funny one, too' New York Times

'Eloquent and thoughtful . . . A must read' Al Gore

'Dan Barber is not only a great chef, he's also a fine writer' Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denis Vukosav on 22 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
‘The Third Plate’ deliciously prepared by Dan Barber is much more than book about cooking, it is a work that speaks about the whole philosophy of cooking and food preparation that this chef painstakingly maintains in his restaurants.

Dan Barber is the chef at two restaurants in NY and though on first sight he just deals with organic food like many others for some special reason he managed to achieve his food tastes much better than any others.

This book explains how he was able to achieve this, and in its pages, divided into four parts Barber examines– Soil, Land, Sea and Seed – author tells the story why his restaurant was in Gourmet magazine called farm-to-table back in 2000, only few months after restaurant was opened.

Since then farm-to-table, as author is saying, gone from fringe idea to a mainstream social movement proving that US is indomitable and abundant food system, a movement whose enthusiasts are called artisanal eaters and locavores considering themselves as a reaction against a global food economy that erodes cultures and cuisines.

Therefore, expect much more from ‘The Third Plate’ than just ordinary book about cooking because its 500 pages will even manage to intrigue people who never burden themselves with the questions about which the author skillfully discussed.
After its reading you will certainly look a little differently on food preparation process.
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By TimP4p on 24 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic views on where we are heading with food production in this world.
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Happy Paddy on 12 Sept. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The only complaint I have about this purchase is that I expected to receive the book version but I received Audio Book version instead. As I am in my mid-sixties, I am used to handling the book version and I will have to get used of this new style version which would probably be of more interest to the younger reader who may be a regular commuter by car, rail or bus who could while away the time by listening to the audio version. Anyways, I may be completely wrong in my assessment of this product. Thank you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 115 reviews
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Delightful and challenging. The best book about food culture since 'Omnivore's Dilemma' 20 May 2014
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on Amazon.com
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.

There is something borderline obscene about weeping over roasted asparagus with beet yogurt and stinging nettles or swooning over purple potato gnocchi with green garlic, ramp shoots and hon shimeji mushrooms while, not far away, children go hungry. But as I understand it, Dan Barber isn’t serving this food only because he’s gunning to unseat whatever restaurant is regarded as the world’s best. He’s doing it to explore the concept of “delicious.”

The story of this book is how the meaning of “delicious” changed for him and how he came to a fresh, larger definition: bringing that level of satisfaction and nutrition to people who will never know his name or eat in his restaurant.

Here’s his understanding of the way food works in our country:

The “first plate” is a hulking, corn-fed steak with a few vegetables on the side.

The “second plate” is a smaller, grass-fed steak, no bigger than your fist, with vegetables that come from farmers who get name-checked by the waiters. This was what his restaurants served. As he writes, “It’s better tasting, and better for the planet, but the second plate’s architecture is identical to the first. It, too, is damaging — disrupting the ecological balances of the planet, causing soil depletion and nutrient loss — and in the end it isn’t a sustainable way to farm or eat.”

The “third plate” represents a non-violent revolution. The steak looks like an afterthought. The carrots rule.

Despite the book’s title, the plate — the food prepared by a chef and served in a restaurant — is not the real subject of this book.

“The Third Plate” is about farming.

With that sentence, I’m in danger of losing half of you here, maybe more, so let’s go to the video of Dan Barber, at TED, talking about an astonishingly delicious fish and the man who figured out a way to farm it. It’s a great story. A deeply entertaining, even thrilling story, completely worth your time. But if you want just the punch line, start around 14:45, because at that point this amusing observer ignites and breathes fire. His love story about a chef and a fish, he says, is also instructive: “You might say it’s a recipe for the future of good food… What we need is a radically new conception of agriculture, one in which the food actually tastes good.”

This is not a small point. You can make a good case for America’s weight problem on the idea that our food does not supply us with the nutrition we need, so we eat more to get it. The way out? The merger of pre-industrial agriculture with great cooking. Or, to put it more elegantly: “The ecological choice for food is also the most ethical choice. And, generally, the most delicious choice.”

Hold this thought. Underline it. It is on the final exam — no, it is the final exam. I mean: for us, for the planet.

I’m making the book sound somber. In truth, it’s mostly a collection of stories. Brilliant stories, mostly. (The ones you want to skip are in the first section of the book, where you can learn more about soil than you’ll ever want to know.) Barber is as gifted a writer as he is a chef; he tells these stories largely in dialogue, as in a novel. Were they all taped? Did Barber rush home to scribble them down? There is no note about the accuracy of these conversations. That may not trouble most readers; it troubles me.

I know I bang on about the length of books. “The Third Plate” fills 447 pages. That is — the metaphor is wrong, I know — a very rich meal. I grasp that foodies will devour every word, but this book deserves the widest possible audience, and its completeness works against that. I wish worthy but overstuffed books like this were like DVDs: a studio version and a director’s cut that includes scenes that had to be deleted for the sake of a crisp viewer experience. A chef’s cut, if you will.

Still, give “The Third Plate” four stars. Call it “delicious.” Then join a CSA and start doing your part to save the planet — and your life.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A lot to learn, a lot to absorb 27 Jun. 2014
By Sibelius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At 450+ pages this is a long and detailed book that steadily maintains a laconic pace with author, Dan Barber, leisurely meandering to and fro ruminating and contemplating on the flaws of the modern food industrial system and how to fix it in order to feed the planet in a sustainable (and pleasurable) manner. While there is a certain severity to the content I found the volume in its entirety to be a veritable page turner - Barber has a lot to say and share and he manages to do so in a compelling and personable manner that slowly unfolds all while educating the reader every step of the way.

The book is comprised of 4 sections; 'Soil - Land - Sea - Seed,' and Barber's focus with each is from a foundation-infrastructure perspective. For example with 'Soil,' this is the essential component that fuels agriculture and so Barber examines the current state of the mega-agribusiness farming industry and how its practices continuously deteriorate soil and the resulting tasteless, less nutritious grains and vegetables that spring forth. Barber will then turn focus onto systems that manage each resource correctly - typically a 'whole farm' process that involves grain, veg and livestock production into one integrated system that holistically sustains and replenishes itself.

The best quality of the book is Barber's perspective as a 4-star Chef. While sustainability is the chief concern throughout, the quality of ingredients for the sake of delicious meals are also at front and center giving the book a nice balance between hard-edged, environmental concern and measured foodie pleasure.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Great ideas about sustainable menus... for the wealthy 20 Aug. 2014
By Jordan Michel - Published on Amazon.com
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.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Practice What You Preach... Checked. 20 May 2014
By NYFB [Je suis Charlie ET Ahmed] - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dan Barber as a chef and author offers his knowledge about nutrition and diet through his experience that he has earned on his farm and his award winning restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns located along the Hudson River in New York. I as a nutritionist have a very good idea of the nutritional values of a food ingredients but Dan offers the knowledge of farming and the impact of different plants to the soil and the environment. The relation of growing food and the type of food offered by Dan is the same argument that has existed for last few decades with Agra business with their unsustainable farming practices on the other side of the isle. Rotation and variety attracts many different healthy bugs as well as offer nutrients to soil but instead big Agra tries to achieve the maximum yield per acre with the same crop year after year with heavy use of chemicals which encourage the super-bugs and destruction of habitat for all healthy organism. We humans truly have a lot to lose regardless how sophisticated and intelligent creations we may consider ourselves unless we address issues raised by Dan.

Dan covers the Veta La Palma fish farm in his TED TALK. Amazing story of human accomplishment by Spain but yet embarrassing to other countries with wealth and knowledge where they lack the simple equation of ecosystem in their own environment especially for US where they could have created the bigger version of Veta La Palma farm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An Amazing Deep-Dive into the Food system 21 July 2014
By barrosd12 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time I'm actually writing out a review for an item on Amazon, but if there's one book that deserves a glowing recommendation, it's Dan Barber's "The Third Plate".

I have to admit, I had no idea what I was in for with this one - I had recently come off of another fantastic book called "Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" and was looking for more information on how our food systems came to be and how to be a better consumer of food (something that Barber is also interested in).

The book is broken down into sections detailing farming, animal farming, fish farming, and finally seed genetics. The topics are covered with a fascination I have not seen successfully translated into prose in quite some time. Barber proves he's not only a fantastic chef, but also a tremendous writer. Just as he is discovering how little he himself knows about food, you too come along for the ride as we meet several of the farmers, chefs, and people he has met on his own awakening.

Rather than giving you a synopsis, let me tell you why this book is one of the top 10 I have ever read - no other book of this type has challenged my preconceptions about food and about the farming and systems surrounding food as this book has. Barber opens the book by describing what he terms "The Third Plate", an theoretical plate of food that will be able to feed future generations - by the end of the book, I found myself wondering what sorts of things I would be able to do as a humble home cook to discover and realize my own version of the plate that he describes.
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