Have you ever wondered who picked your Fairtrade banana? Or why we can buy British strawberries in April? How far do you think your green beans travelled to get to your plate? And where do all the wonky carrots go? Above all, how do we stop worrying about our food choices and start making decisions that make a difference?
In an effort to make sense of the complex food system we are all part of, Louise Gray decides to track the stories of our five-a-day, from farm to fruit bowl, and discover the impact that growing fruits and vegetables has on the planet.
Through visits to farms, interviews with scientists and trying to grow her own, she digs up the dirt behind organic potatoes, greenhouse tomatoes and a glut of courgettes.
In each chapter, Louise answers a question about a familiar item in our shopping basket. Is plant protein as good as meat? Is foraged food more nutritious? Could bees be the answer to using fewer chemicals? How do we save genetic diversity in our apples? Are digital apps the key to reducing food waste? Is gardening good for mental health? And is the symbol of clean eating, the avocado, fuelling the climate crisis?
As pressure grows via social media to post pictures of food that ticks all the boxes in terms of health and the environment, these food stories from the author of the award-winning The Ethical Carnivore are also a personal story of motherhood and the realisation that nothing is ever perfect.
Prologue - Roots
Chapter 1 - Old Beans
Why plant protein will save the planet
Chapter 2 - Bananageddon
Why you should eat Fairtrade bananas
Chapter 3 - The Valuable Esculent
Why we should look after the soil
Chapter 4 - Miciri
Why food miles are not that bad
Chapter 5 - Humblebees
Why bees are important on farms
Chapter 6 - Nightingale Farm
Why birds are important on farms
Chapter 7 - The Taste of Summer
Why seasons are not that important
Chapter 8 - The Space Zucchini
Why gardening is good for mental health
Chapter 9 - Magic Berries
Why foraging is magic
Chapter 10 - The Orchard
Why diversity matters
Chapter 11 - Perfectly Imperfect
Why we have to cut food waste
Chapter 12 - Avocado Anxiety
Why simply being anxious won't solve the problem
Epilogue - Roots
Louise Gray is a freelance writer based in Scotland. She trained with The Press Association and was a staff writer for The Scotsman. She covered UN climate change talks, GM foods and the badger cull during five years as the Environment Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. Louise specialises in writing about food, farming and climate change. She has written for The Sunday Times, Scottish Field, the Guardian and The Spectator, among others. She has also appeared on BBC television and radio. Louise is passionate about environmental issues, increasingly focusing on how individuals can make a difference through the choices they make, such as the food we eat. Her first book, The Ethical Carnivore, won best Food Book and Best Investigative Work at the Guild of Food Writers Awards and was shortlisted for the Fortnum and Mason Food Book of the Year.
"A fascinating book full of surprising facts that will force you to reconsider everything you thought you knew about fruit and vegetables. Truly, this is food for thought."
– Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment
"Packed with insight, impeccably researched, and skilfully narrated, this book is attuned to the contradictions and possibilities of the contemporary diet and ripe with appreciation for the visceral importance of plants."
– Rob Percival, author of The Meat Paradox and Head of Food Policy, Soil Association
"Engaging stories and lively sanity for veg-forward eating in our complicated times."
– Hattie Ellis, author of What to Eat?: 10 Chewy Questions About Food
"Essential reading for anyone that eats, Avocado Anxiety takes you on a journey through food and its impact on our planet. Brilliant, just brilliant!"
– Jake Fiennes, author of Land Healer: How Farming Can Save Britain's Countryside and Head of Conservation, Holkham Estate
"In a quietly confident manner, Avocado Anxiety makes you think for yourself on matters that can only be described as universally urgent. Everyone should read it."
– Caroline Eden, author of Black Sea, Red Sands and Samarkand
"By turns fascinating, moving and funny, Louise Gray gives readers the knowledge they need to make more informed choices about what to eat."
– Emily Beament, author of 12 Small Acts to Save Our World and Environment Correspondent, Press Association