Food Tank has chosen 19 cookbooks from a range of different authors to guide us through the evolution of our food system. Filled with vibrant flavors, personal stories, and rich traditional knowledge, these books will help any cook find their way around 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 were in their pantry. Whether you want to explore a zero waste lifestyle or just want recipes to make it through the week, our list has something delicious for everyone.
1. #EATMEATLESS: Good for Animals, Earth and All by Jane Goodall
A companion to Jane Goodall’s decades of activism, her book #To eat less is a new call to action. After years of campaigning for the recognition of animal rights, Goodall turned to an even more universal subject: our food. Combining environmental sustainability, animal welfare and healthy eating, Goodall’s book gives home cooks the chance to make 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 shine a light on family recipes in New York City communities. The food system reflects many social issues and dynamics across the city, write Pitt and Tilin. To solve it, the authors devote the second half of their book to “recipes” for change that aim to make the system better at the service of the people.
3. A collection basket by I-Collectif
A digital cookbook assembled by the organization of indigenous chefs I-Collectif, A gathering basket highlights a rich tradition of Native American foods across the United States. Each recipe in the book comes with a lesson – about the recipe’s ingredients, its history, and the people who have been cooking it for centuries. The cookbook will be released in installments, timed at the start of the moon cycle.
4. Black Food by Bryant Terry
In his love letter to the kitchen of the black diaspora, Bryant Terry shares the voices of more than 100 black cooks around the world. Chapters in the book move from black history to black future, highlighting how community, spirituality, and food come together to form a complete feast. Recipes range from the comfortable to the experimental, and are accompanied by artwork from designers like Emory Douglas and Sarina Mantle, as well as a playlist curated by Bryant himself.
5. Cook more, waste less by Christine Tizzard
Every home cook is faced with the problem of waste, from forbidden fruits to leftover vegetables that are hard to find room for. Consumers have an important role to play in the fight against food waste and Chrstine Tizzard wants to help them. Cook more, waste less offers options to save money, help the planet, and get the most out of ingredients, even though they’re a little past their prime.
6. Cooking at home by Priya Krishna and David Chang
Cookbooks often contain techniques or ingredients that are difficult to master. Cooking at home recognizes that not everyone can buy expensive ingredients or follow difficult recipes. To remedy that, this book helps cooks find their own way, whether it’s 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 children harnesses the knowledge of some of the world’s best chefs, whose children are often their harshest critics. Encompassing breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts, the book is full of stories. Each starter is accompanied by an explanation to show why children love the dish and what they learn by tasting new flavors.
8. Diet for a Small Planet (50th anniversary edition) by Francis Moore Lappe
In 1971, Francis Moore Lappe Diet for a small planet rocked the culinary world with its revolutionary vision of the environmental impact of meat. Decades later, the book is still as relevant as ever. This 50th anniversary edition includes a host of new plant-based recipes to warm eaters’ taste buds and reduce their carbon footprint.
9. Dreaming in Spice: A Sinfully Vegetarian Odyssey by Hari Pulapaka
Vegetables aren’t normally considered a ‘sin’, but Hari Pulapaka’s new cookbook will have readers thinking that cauliflower is guilty pleasure. The recipes are easy to modify, regardless of individual dietary preferences, and are packed with nutrients to complement the flavor. The book also includes an organized list of wines to pair with cooking.
10. Foraging in 2021: The Ultimate Guide to Foraging and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Joseph Erickson
After a year of being indoors, there is no better way out than to dig in the forests and search for wild food. Picking in 2021 is an insightful primer on how to find food in the wild and what to do with it. As an added bonus, readers will learn if they are able to eat this brilliant red mushroom by the side of the trail.
11. Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds and Legumes by Abra Berens
Grist offers classes on 29 different grains, beans, seeds, and legumes, combining inexpensive ingredients with quick recipes. With over 100 photos and 125 recipes, the book is the perfect companion for home cooks who want to know a little more about their ingredients, while remaining healthy and satisfied.
12. Jubilee of Toni Tipton-Martin
In her cookbook, Toni Tipton-Martin traces black cuisine through the centuries and celebrates its impact on food around the world. Like the biblical jubilee which marks “the restoration of a people by deliverance”, writes Tipton-Martin, “our culinary jubilee is also about liberation and resilience”. The recipes in her book are infused with creativity and joy, easily jumping between technical lessons and history.
13. New indigenous cuisine by Freddie Bitsoie and James O. Fraioli
Freddie Bitsoie and James Fraioli’s upcoming book celebrates the diversity of Native American cuisine. Dishes include Northeast Wampanoag Cherry Clam Chowder and Pueblo Spiced Pork Tenderloin. With recipes from coast to coast, New Indigenous Cuisine has something for everyone, combining flavor education with lessons in culinary heritage.
14. Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi
“Being good with yourself,” writes Yotam Ottolenghi, “means savoring great flavors and highlighting vegetables without too much work. ” Ottolenghi test kitchen will help home cooks clean their pantries by getting creative with their meals. It could mean adding new touches to old favorites or letting a few simple ingredients stand up for themselves.
15. Rice by Michael W. Twitty
Michael Twitty’s book traces the influence and reach of rice through culinary history and the African diaspora. Offering a diverse range of tastes and textures, the humble grain has become one of the most adaptable foods we have. Whether crispy or smooth, steamed or fried, topped with okra or on its own, the rice in Twitty’s recipes will bring cooks closer to the traditions and customs of kitchens around the world.
16. Catch a Fish by Josh Niland
Finding sustainable seafood can be difficult, and for some cooks, figuring out what to do with this fish after they’ve eaten it can be an even bigger challenge. Catch a fish will help you experience the flavor and potential of 15 different fish, using all parts of the scale to the tail. Be bolder and more creative every step of the way with unexpected flavor combinations and happy imperfections.
17. The book of forage flora: recipes and techniques for edible plants in the garden, fields and forests By Alan Bergo
The book of the chief of the forage on flora by Alan Bergo is filled with photos, stories and lessons that will bring readers closer to the plants that grow around them. The book emphasizes 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. Perennial Cooking: Simple Recipes for a Healthy Future by Beth Dooley
Perennial cuisine doesn’t just teach cooks what to do with their ingredients. It also shows them where each ingredient comes from, how they were prepared and what they are doing for the environment. The book offers an overview of the grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables that add color to diets and protect the planet. In addition to the origins of each food, the cookbook includes nutritional information, offering information on which dishes have the most filling and healthiest punch.
19. The zero waste chef’s cookbook by Anne-Marie Bonneau
Reducing waste is hard enough. Going to zero waste seems, for many, an impossible task. Fortunately, The zero waste chef’s cookbook teaches free and easy solutions to get the most out of what they buy. With 75 recipes and end-of-cook tips on what to do with leftovers, the book shows that zero waste might not be too difficult, after all.