19 Cookbooks for Food Justice and Sustainability

Food Tank has chosen 19 cookbooks from an array of different authors to guide us through our changing food system. Full of bright flavors, personal stories, and rich traditional knowledge, these books will help any cook find their flow in the kitchen.

Many of these books focus on sustainable living. Some will take readers out of the house and into the forest, while others will help them get creative with the staples that have been sitting in their pantry. Whether you are interested in exploring a zero-waste lifestyle or just want recipes to get through the week, our list has something delicious for everyone.

1. #EATMEATLESS: Good for Animals, the Earth & All by Jane Goodall

A companion to Jane Goodall’s decades of activism, her book #EatMeatLess is a new call to action. After years of campaigning for the recognition of animal rights, Goodall turned her focus to an even more universal subject – our diets. Combining environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and healthy eating, Goodall’s book gives home cooks the chance to have a revolutionary impact just by making a few changes.

2. A Bite of the Big Apple: A Food Justice Cookbook by Clara Pitt and Leila Tilin

In the first half of their cookbook, food justice activists Clara Pitt and Leila Tilin highlight family recipes from communities across New York City. The food system reflects many social issues and dynamics across the city, Pitt and Tilin write. To solve it, the authors dedicate the second half of their book to “recipes” for change that aim to make the system better serve the people.

3. A Gathering Basket by I-Collective

A digital cookbook assembled by the Indigenous chef organization I-Collective, A Gathering Basket highlights a rich tradition of Native American foods across the United States. Each recipe in the book comes with a lesson – on the recipe’s ingredients, on its history, and on the people who have cooked it for centuries. The cookbook will be released in installments, timed to the start of the moon cycle.

4. Black Food by Bryant Terry

In his love letter to Black diaspora cuisine, Bryant Terry shares the voices of more than 100 Black cooks from across the globe. The book’s chapters move from Black history to Black future, highlighting how community, spirituality, and food weave together to form a whole feast. The recipes range from the comfortable to the experimental and are accompanied throughout by artwork from creatives including Emory Douglas and Sarina Mantle, as well as a playlist put together by Bryant himself.

5. Cook More, Waste Less by Christine Tizzard

Every home cook faces the problem of waste, from fruit gone ban to leftover vegetables that are difficult to find space for. Consumers have an important role to play in the fight against food waste and Chrstine Tizzard wants to help. Cook More, Waste Less offers options for saving money, helping the planet, and getting the most out of ingredients – even if they’re a little past their prime.

6. Cooking at Home by Priya Krishna and David Chang

Cookbooks often include techniques or ingredients that are difficult to master. Cooking at Home recognizes that not everyone is able to buy expensive ingredients or follow difficult recipes. To fix that, this book helps cooks find their own way, whether that means inventing your own recipes or turning your microwave into a gourmet tool. Through this book, Priya Krishna and David Chang hope to help home cooks think like a chef.

7. Cooking for Your Kids by Joshua David Stein

Cooking for Your Kids harnesses the knowledge of some of the world’s best chefs, whose kids are often their harshest critics. Encompassing breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts, the book is full of stories. Each entry comes with an explanation to show why kids love the dish and what they learn through tasting new flavors.

8. Diet for a Small Planet (50th Anniversary Edition) by Francis Moore Lappe

In 1971, Francis Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet shook the culinary world with its revolutionary insight into the environmental impact of meat. Decades later, the book is as pertinent as ever. This 50th anniversary edition includes a host of new plant-based recipes to warm an eaters’ taste buds and shrink their carbon footprint.

9. Dreaming in Spice: A Sinfully Vegetarian Odyssey by Hari Pulapaka

Vegetables aren’t normally considered “sinful,” but Hari Pulapaka’s new cookbook will have readers thinking of cauliflower as a guilty pleasure. The recipes are easy to modify no matter one’s dietary preferences, and come packed with nutrition to complement the flavor. The book also includes a curated list of wines to pair with the cuisine.

10. Foraging in 2021: The Ultimate Guide to Foraging and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Joseph Erickson

After a year stuck indoors, there’s no better way to get outside than to rummage through forests and search for wild food. Foraging in 2021 is an insightful primer into how to find food in nature and what to do with it. As an added bonus, readers will learn whether they are able to eat that shiny red mushroom on the side of the trail.

11. Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens

Grist offers lessons on 29 different grains, beans, seeds, and legumes, combining cheap ingredients with quick recipes. With more than 100 photos and 125 recipes, the book is the perfect companion for home cooks who want to know their ingredients a little more intimately, while keeping healthy and satisfied in the process.

12. Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin

In her cookbook, Toni Tipton-Martin traces Black cuisine through the centuries and celebrates its impact on food across the globe. Like the Biblical Jubilee that marks “restoration of a people through deliverance,” Tipton-Martin writes, “our culinary Jubilee is also about liberation and resilience.” The recipes in her book come imbued with creativity and joy, jumping between technical lessons and history with ease.

13. New Native Kitchen  by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli

Freddie Bitsoie and James Fraioli’s forthcoming book celebrates the diversity of Native American cuisine. Dishes include Cherrystone Clam Soup from the Northeastern Wampanoag and Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin from the Pueblo peoples. With recipes from coast to coast, New Native Kitchen has something for everyone, combining an education in flavor with lessons on culinary heritage.

14. Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi

“Being good to yourself,” Yotam Ottolenghi writes,” means enjoying big flavors and highlighting vegetables without taking on too much work.” Ottolenghi Test Kitchen will help home cooks clean out their pantry by being creative with their meals. That may mean adding new twists to old favorites or letting a few simple ingredients stand for themselves.

15. Rice by Michael W. Twitty

Michael Twitty’s book traces the influence and scope of rice throughout culinary history and the African diaspora. Offering a diverse range of tastes and textures, the humble grain has grown to be one of the most adaptable foods we have. Whether it’s crispy or smooth, steamed or fried, smothered in gumbo or standing alone, the rice of Twitty’s recipes will bring cooks closer to the traditions and customs of cuisines across the world.

16. Take One Fish by Josh Niland

Finding sustainable seafood can be difficult, and for some cooks, knowing what to do with that fish once they have it can be an even greater challenge. Take One Fish will help you unpack the flavor and potential of 15 different fish, using all of the parts from scale to tail. Grow bolder and more creative with every step through unexpected flavor combinations and happy imperfections.

17. The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora: Recipes and Techniques for Edible Plants from Garden, Field, and Forest By Alan Bergo

The Forager’s Chef Book of Flora by Alan Bergo comes stocked with photos, stories, and lessons that will bring readers closer to the plants that grow around them. The book highlights the importance of exploring by cooking with young plants before they ripen and using the lesser-known parts of a vegetable. Readers can benefit from the traditional knowledge shared in each chapter.

18. The Perennial Kitchen: Simple Recipes for a Healthy Future by Beth Dooley

The Perennial Kitchen doesn’t only teach cooks what to do with their ingredients. It also shows them where each ingredient comes from, how they have been prepared, and what they do for the environment. The book offers insight into grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables that bring color to diets and protect the planet. Alongside each food’s origins, the cookbook includes nutrition information, offering information on which dishes pack the heartiest and healthiest punch.

19. The Zero-Waste Chef Cookbook by Anne-Marie Bonneau

Reducing waste is hard enough. Going zero-waste seems, for many, like an impossible task. Luckily, The Zero-Waste Chef Cookbook teaches simple–and free–fixes to make the most of what they buy. With 75 recipes and end-of-cooking tips on what to make with leftovers, the book shows that going zero-waste might not be too hard, after all.

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