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‘The Fate of Food’

Amanda Little, Harmony, 340 pages, $27. Amanda Little opens her book “The Fate of Food” with a tour of a factory in Salt Lake City that makes dehydrated mixes for potpies. Unlike the potpies that sat in your mother’s freezer, these potpies are being made in case of an emergency: the end of the world. These potpies feed the market for “preppers,” those looking to stockpile food and water in case — or rather, when — the food supply is cut off. Little walks readers through the many complex threats to our food supply, including industrial agriculture’s role in waste, undernutrition and overconsumption; agricultural consolidation; and the harm to biodiversity. She explains that the industrial food system is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and paradoxically the industry most susceptible to extreme weather events. Most of us will feel the effect of climate change not through floods, storms or forest fires, but through what we eat, the price we pay for it and how much is available. Having traveled to 13 states and 11 countries, Little depicts the changes taking place in the global food system — both the developing threats to our food supply and the solutions hoping to mitigate them — and tells the stories of the experts who might help us avoid a freeze-dried future. Little concludes — like many who have been studying the fate of our food — that there is no one answer to creating a food system that is environmental, economical and socially sustainable. It is critical that the different sides come together for the future of food and humankind.