Chicago, Illinois - Food Tank has hand picked 16 books that educate, inform, and inspire us in a wide range of topics. They highlight the ethics of what we eat and why we choose to eat some things over others, children’s malnutrition, starting your own urban garden, and the forgotten grains of the past.

Chef, food advocate, and author Nora Pouillon recently spoke to Food Tank and shared her insights on the future of food. "People have to think more preventatively and more sustainably and believe in sustainability and the future more,” she said. "The positive change is now that there are so many more chefs interested in and committed to organic and sustainable food. I think it is mostly consumer-driven by the younger generation, which is wonderful.”

With this in mind, Food Tank hopes that books like Pouillon’s My Organic Life and Halloran’s The New Bread Basket: How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists Are Redefining Our Daily Loaf will equip consumers, chefs, and eaters with valuable knowledge and motivation in the continued fight to improve the food system.

Here are Food Tank’s 16 summer must reads.

And for more books to add to your list, check out all of our past reading lists: Winter 2016, Fall 2015, Summer 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Summer 2014, Spring 2014 , Fall 2013, and 15 Books for Future Foodies.

Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies--How What We Eat Defines Who We Are by Sophie Egan

Devoured examines the habits of American eaters and investigates how American values and inclinations towards convenience contribute to an unhealthy and unstable food culture. Egan, program director at the Culinary Institiute of America, seeks to answer a number of intriguing questions within our food system. Her search for answers unveils the unintended consequences of American’s eating habits and their affect on health.

Eating Planet by Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition

Eating Planet examines how food production can work together with what is beneficial to the planet. The new edition of the book describes the progress made in terms of food and nutrition and explores food waste, the coexistence of malnutrition and obesity, and the overuse of natural resources.

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter

Captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Novella Carpenter transforms an abandoned lot next to her ramshackle house in inner city Oakland into a wonderful urban farm. This book is filled with humor, fascinating farmer tips, and the trials and tribulations of living off the land.

Food for the City: A Future for the Metropolis by Peter de Rooden, Adam Grubb, Han Wiskerke, and Lola Sheppard

This book explores options submitted by a politician, an activist, an economist, a philosopher, a chef, an architect and a farmer, as well as others, on how to feed the nine billion people that will inhabit this planet by 2050.

Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm – from Scratch by Lucie B. Amundsen

Locally Laid tells the story of a Midwestern family who went from having no agricultural experience to a few backyard chickens to a full-fledged farm. Their trials and tribulations unveil the vital role that midsized farms can play in rebuilding America’s local food system.  

Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Yeasr Obsession with Meat by Marta Zaraska

This scientific investigation of humanity’s love of meat explores carnivorism from evolutionary, cultural, and biochemical perspectives. Marta Zaraska sets out to answer age-old questions about meat, including why humans eat meat at all, why it’s so hard to give up, and how it affects the environment. She addresses the health dangers of meat-eating, the implications of livestock and climate change, and the alluring qualities of meat in cuisines around the world.

My Organic Life by Nora Pouillon 

This memoir chronicles the life of a pioneer and hero of the organic food revolution. Growing up on a farm in the Alps, Chef Nora Pouillon was accustomed to fresh, chemical-free food. When she moved to the United States, she was horrified by the abundance of unseasonal, conventionally-grown produce and hormone-filled meat. This shocking transition inspired Pouillon to fight to change the food culture in the U.S. through education and cooking. She founded Restaurant Nora in 1979, sourcing seasonal organic produce from the local farms she championed. In 1999, it became America’s first certified-organic restaurant.

Restoring Heritage Grains: The Culture, Biodiversity, Resilience, and Cuisine of Ancient Wheats by Eli Rogosa

Eli Rogosa brings back to light the forgotten grains in his book about the rich history of grain growing and society, in-depth practical advice on landrace wheat husbandry, wheat folktales and mythology, and recipes for flours, breads, and beers that has only recently been overshadowed by modern industrial wheat.

The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey

This book takes readers on a journey exploring the relationship between humans and plants. Mabey explores the history of how plants have not just been a source of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths, and symbols of war and peace, life and death. From Newton’s apple and gravity, Priestley’s sprig of mint and photosynthesis, and Wordsworth’s daffodils, The Cabaret of Plants is an exploration of the deeply intertwined history of humans and the natural world.

The First 1,000 Days by Roger Thurow

Proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days can strongly influence a child’s ability to grow, learn, and work. It can also determine a society’s long-term health and prosperity. This book tells the stories of new mothers and babies in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago, exploring the promise of and challenges of ending early childhood malnutrition. Thurow illuminates the science, economics, politics, and progress of the movement, as well as economic injustice, disease, lack of education and sanitation, misogyny, and corruption that challenge it.

The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals by Wayne Pacelle

Wayne Pacelle, leader of the Humane Society of the United States, offers a frontline account of how entrepreneurs, startups, scientists, philanthropists, and political leaders are shifting American business to create a “humane economy.” Pacelle acknowledges companies that are embracing animal welfare standards and revolutionizing American business, making a case that we can have it both ways—“a better world for us and for animals too.”

The New Bread Basket: How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists Are Redefining Our Daily Loaf by Amy Halloran

While many eaters around the globe are avoiding gluten and simple carbohydrates, this book explores the history and significance of wheat. It tells the stories of the new wave of farmers, millers, and maltsters who are working to build a community and reinvent local grain systems by returning to traditional methods of growing and using wheat.

The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets by Darra Goldstein

This book explores the matters of culture, history, and society as to why and how sugar became so prominently featured in our diet as well as how the human proclivity for sweet has brought richness to our language, our art, and our gastronomy. This book traces sugar's journey from a rare luxury to a universal commodity. In between, readers will learn about numerous sweeteners, the evolution of the dessert course, the production of chocolate, and the neurological, psychological, and cultural responses to sweetness.

Two if By Sea: Delicious Sustainable Seafood by Barton Seaver

Seaver’s second sustainable seafood cookbook includes over 150 recipes featuring responsibly caught seafood that is not in danger of overfishing. Readers are given simple cooking techniques to instill confidence in cooking delicious seafood dishes at home as well as a guide to buying sustainable seafood.

Water In Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World by Judith D. Schwartz

Long taken for granted, water, and its impending scarcity, is now on every ones minds. It has entered the realm of effecting economics, politics, people's food and lifestyle choices. In a world where anxieties are mounting, Schwartz’ presents a refreshing perspective on water, that by allying with the water cycle, we can revive lush, productive landscapes. This book is a reminder that fixing the future of our drying planet involves understanding what makes natural systems thrive.

This book will be released July 26, 2016 and is available for pre-order now.

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy

Melanie Joy explores the belief system that governs eaters’ perception of which meat, eggs, and dairy they eat. This book explores the phenomenon and complex psychological and social mechanisms that cause humans to unknowingly act against our core values and our own interests to why we do eat meat.