A captivating and unexpected journey through the history of humankind's relationship with food, with an urgent message for our times.
We live in an age of mass extinction. The earth's biodiversity is decreasing at a faster rate than ever. Industrial agriculture and the standardization of taste are not only wiping out many edible plants, but also the food cultures, histories and livelihoods that go with them.
Inspired by a global project to collect and preserve foods that are at risk of extinction, Dan Saladino sets out to encounter these endangered foods. Each food tells a story – some of them moving and personal, some of them urgent and timely – and collectively they span the history of civilisation and touch on many of the biggest issues of our time, from climate change to global inequality.
From a humble pea found on an island on the south coast of America to a mysterious cheese found in the mountains of the Balkans, from the wild honey eaten for centuries by the nomadic tribes of Tanzania, to a rare citrus fruit in the mountain forests of India that is the genetic ancestor of all the world's oranges, each ingredient transports us to a different time and place. Spanning the globe in his search for the most endangered foods, Dan Saladino takes us on a thrilling tour of a disappearing world, and reveals the battles being fought for the future of the planet.
Dan Saladino is a BBC journalist and makes programmes about food for BBC Radio 4 and The World Service. His work has been recognised in the The Guild of Food Writers Awards, The Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Awards and in America by the James Beard Foundation. Last Harvest was awarded the 2019 Jane Grigson Trust Award. He lives in Cheltenham but his roots are Sicilian.
"This is a big book with a simple message: that we all need to pay more attention to what we are (and are no longer) eating. Behind everything we eat there are people, places and stories. When we lose diversity in our food we threaten, also, the culture and history of the land and people who produce it. As the world becomes increasingly homogenous, preserving these things – keeping hold of diversity – matters. Dan Saladino manages to highlight the urgency of this matter whilst also inspiring us to believe that turning the tide is still possible."
– Yotam Ottolenghi
"Dan Saladino's stories of endangered foods form a rallying cry to us all to protect the world's diversity before it's too late. But this is also a book filled with optimism; it captures the energy of a global movement of people dedicating their lives to saving the plants, the animals, the flavours and the food knowledge we must preserve."
– Alice Waters
"For anyone interested in Darwin, world power, and life itself, read on."
– Cerys Matthews
"Dan Saladino's brilliant book answers the questions we forgot to ask, and highlights the incredible diversity we stand to lose. A genuine masterpiece and a call to arms. Everyone who loves food and cooking should read this."
– Gill Meller
"A fascinating journey across the fast disappearing diversity of our foods, which we ignore at our peril – a brilliant read."
– Tim Spector
"I've long admired Dan Saladino's journalism for its broad scope and passion. The same qualities animate his first book Eating to Extinction, an inspiring account of endangered foods and food cultures across the planet. Everyone who cares about what they eat will want to know its stories."
– Harold McGee
"This is a poignant and urgent read, it gets to the heart of storytelling because its threads the one thing that connects us all, our relationships to food. It is a timely reminder, too, that if we honour these connections we might have time to still save to our rich heritage of diverse foods. Dip into this book immediately, just don't do it on an empty stomach."
– Alys Fowler
"I love this book, not only is it a treasure trove of knowledge, stories and ideas, it's a call to us all to save foods, flavours and our diversity. It's important and timely. I wish the whole world could read it."
– Raymond Blanc
"How lucky we are that Dan Saladino has been able to tell these stories [...] This is the most important book about food that I have read for a long time, but I don't want to put anyone off. The book is worthy not just because it draws our attention to a world which is in danger disappearing, but because it is beautifully written and without hyperbole."
– Stephen Harris
"This is an enthralling tour of some the world's most endangered foods [...] Saladino marshals a galvanising array of evidence for what we stand to lose"
– Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller
"Eating to Extinction is an eloquent call to arms to rescue the invaluable history of what we eat: Saladino follows in the footsteps of Attenborough with his inspiring and superbly researched account of a world of endangered foods as climate change threatens not only our nutrition and pleasure but also our heritage and culture."
– Geraldene Holt, Chair of the Jane Grigson Trust Award
"One of the wonders of the world is the rich diversity of its food, but diversity is disappearing as many traditional foods are becoming endangered. Dan Saladino make a fascinating case for why we all need to care about this."
– Thomasina Miers
"Essential reading for those with a profound interest in the culture, history and anthropology of what, how and why we eat. It's completely absorbing, enlightening and a necessary addition to every bookshelf."
– Richard Corrigan
"A feast of research and information [and] a digestible collection of beautiful stories. Hard to swallow is the relentless drive of commerce, politics, and "progress" that inevitably tramples over the care and symbiosis relayed throughout each tale. Importantly, Dan Saladino is rarely ideological or judgemental, instead presenting us with his own adventures and our own human history. Without berating the reader, the issues and arguments are clear, making this a very important book."
– Valentine Warner
"[An] excellent and valuable book."
– Colin Tudge, Literary Review