Synopses & Reviews
An award-winning chef moves beyond "farm-to-table" to offer a revolutionary new way of eating.
The Third Plate is chef Dan Barbers extraordinary vision for a new future of American eating. After more than a decade spent investigating farming communities around the world in pursuit of singular flavor, Barber finally concluded that for the sake of our food, our health, and the future of the land America's cuisine required a radical transformation.
The revelations Barber shares in The Third Plate took root in his restaurants kitchen. But his process of discovery took him far afield to alternative systems of food production and cooking that maximize sustainability, nutrition, and flavor. Barber explores the traditional farming practices of the Spanish dehesa, a uniquely vibrant landscape that has been fine-tuned to produce the famed jamón ibérico. Along the Atlantic coast, he investigates the future of seafood through a revolutionary aquaculture operation and an ancient tuna fishing tradition. In upstate New York, Barber learns from a flourishing mixed-crop farm whose innovative organic practices have revived the land and resurrected an industry. And in Washington State he works with cutting edge seedsmen developing new varieties of grain in collaboration with local bakers, millers, and malters. Drawing on the wisdom and experience of chefs and farmers from around the world, Barber proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating destined to refashion Americans deepest beliefs about food.
Traditionally, Americans have dined on the first plate,” a classic meal centered on meat with few vegetables. Thanks to the burgeoning farm-to-table movement, many people have begun eating from the second plate,” the new ideal of organic, grass-fed meats and local vegetables. But neither model, Barber shows, supports the long-term productivity of the land. Instead, he calls for a third plate,” a new pattern of eating rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm an integrated system of vegetable, grain, and livestock production.
The Third Plate is truly a publishing event: a monumental work of personal insight and global analysis that definitively remakes the understanding of nutrition, agriculture, and taste for the twenty-first century. Barber charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.
“In this compelling read Dan Barber asks questions that nobody else has raised about what it means to be a chef, the nature of taste, and what 'sustainable' really means. He challenges everything you think you know about food; it will change the way you eat. If I could give every cook just one book, this would be the one.” Ruth Reichl, author of Garlic and Sapphires and Tender at the Bone
"Dan Barber is not only a great chef, he's also a fine writer. His vision of a new food system — based on diversity, complexity, and a reverence for nature — isn't utopian. It's essential." Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Command and Control
“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, author of David and Goliath and The Tipping Point
“The Third Plate is one of those rare books that's at once deft and searching — deeply serious and equally entertaining. Dan Barber will change the way you look at food.” Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction and Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“Dan Barber writes with the restrained lushness with which he cooks. In elegant prose, he argues persuasively that eating is our most profound engagement with the non-human world. How we eat makes us who we are and makes the environment what it is. It all needs to change, and Barber has written a provocative manifesto that balances brave originality and meticulous research. His food is farm-to-table; his eloquent, impassioned book is farm-to-heart." Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon
“Dan Barber is as fine a thinker and writer as he is a chef — which is saying a great deal. This book uses its ingredients — the insights of some of the finest farmers on the planet — to fashion something entirely new: a recipe for the future.” Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home
" E]ngaging, funny and delicious... I would call this The Omnivore's Dilemma 2.0." --Chicago Tribune
At the heart of today's optimistic farm-to-table food culture is a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food. Our concern over factory farms and chemically grown crops might have sparked a social movement, but chef Dan Barber, recently showcased on Netflix's Chef's Table, reveals that even the most enlightened eating of today is ultimately detrimental to the environment and to individual health. And it doesn't involve truly delicious food. Based on ten years of surveying farming communities around the world, Barber's The Third Plate offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too.
The Third Plate is grounded in the history of American cuisine over the last two centuries. Traditionally, we have dined on the "first plate," a classic meal centered on a large cut of meat with few vegetables. Thankfully, that's become largely passe. The farm-to-table movement has championed the "second plate," where the meat is from free-range animals and the 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, 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 solution, explains Barber, lies in the "third plate" an integrated system of vegetable, grain, 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.
While the third plate is a novelty in America, Barber demonstrates that this way of eating is rooted in worldwide tradition. He explores the time-honored farming practices of the southern Spanish dehesa, a region producing high-grade olives, acorns, cork, wool, and the renowned jamon iberico. Off the Straits of Gibraltar, Barber investigates the future of seafood through a revolutionary aquaculture operation and an ancient tuna-fishing ritual. In upstate New York, Barber learns from a flourishing mixed-crop farm whose innovative organic practices have revived the land and resurrected an industry. And in Washington State he works with cutting-edge seedsmen developing new varieties of grain in collaboration with local bakers, millers, and malt makers. Drawing on the wisdom and experience of chefs and farmers from around the world, Barber builds a dazzling panorama of ethical and flavorful eating destined to refashion Americans' deepest beliefs about food.
A vivid and profound work that takes readers into the kitchens and fields revolutionizing the way we eat, The Third Plate redefines nutrition, agriculture, and taste for the twenty-first century. The Third Plate charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.
The Wall Street Journal
" F]un to read, a lively mix of food history, environmental philosophy and restaurant lore... an important and exciting addition to the sustainability discussion."
"When The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan's now-classic 2006 work, questioned the logic of our nation's food system, "local" and "organic" weren't ubiquitous the way they are today. Embracing Pollan's iconoclasm, but applying it to the updated food landscape of 2014, The Third Plate reconsiders fundamental assumptions of the movement Pollan's book helped to spark. In four sections--"Soil," "Land, "Sea," and "Seed"--The Third Plate outlines how his pursuit of intense flavor repeatedly forced him to look beyond individual ingredients at a region's broader story--and demonstrates how land, communities, and taste benefit when ecology informs the way we source, cook, and eat."
"Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food." --The Washington Post
Today's optimistic farm-to-table food culture has a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food. In his visionary New York Times-bestselling book, chef Dan Barber, recently showcased on Netflix's Chef's Table, offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too. Looking to the detrimental cooking of our past, and the misguided dining of our present, Barber points to a future "third plate" a new form of American eating where good farming and good food intersect. Barber's The Third Plate charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.
About the Author
Dan Barber is the executive chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Gourmet, The Nation, Saveur, and Food and Wine Magazine. Barber has received the James Beard awards for Best Chef: New York City (2006) and for Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009 he was named one of Time magazines 100 most influential people in the world.