DAN BARBER is the Chef of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm and education center, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in the New York Times, along with many other publications. Barber has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country's Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Dan Barber, an award-winning chef, moves beyond “farm-to-table” to offer a revolutionary new way of 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.
Drawing on the wisdom and experience of chefs, farmers and seed breeders around the world, Barber proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating.
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.
From the book jacket:
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 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 passé. 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 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, producing high-grade olives, acorns, cork, wool, and the renowned jamón ibérico. 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.
“Dan Barber’s new book, The Third Plate, is an eloquent and thoughtful look at the current state of our nation’s food system and how it must evolve. Barber’s wide range of experiences, both in and out of the kitchen, provide him with a rare perspective on this pressing issue. A must read.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“After my first meal at Blue Hill, I paid Dan the ultimate farmer compliment. I told him that he made vegetables taste almost fresher after he had prepared them than when the farmer harvested them. Now I am equally impressed with his writing. Food has stories and Dan tells the stories as well as he cooks. If you want to know about food, read this book.”
“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 eloquent, impassioned book is farm-to-heart.”
“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.”