Did you know that 10 plants make up 80% of our plant-based food supply? That the bananas we eat today were standardized in the 1960s, into one consistent strain, and that they are succumbing to a pathogen that might wipe them out? That an $8 cup of coffee is just around the corner?
Our food supply is heavily and increasingly corporate, streamlined for efficiencies from seed to store. Those efficiencies make bananas and coffee cheap; make wheat, rice, and beef prevalent; and all but guarantee that food tastes the same every time we eat – and they also mean that the foods we depend on most are one bug or virus away from disappearing.
The lesson, as told by science writer and biologist Rob Dunn through rich history and science and via characters and scenes, is to eat the way we always used to – locally, in season, and with an eye towards preserving food quality for the human race. Rigorously researched and highly provocative, this is Never Out of Season to read if you want to know about the future of our food.
Rob Dunn is a professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and in the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author of The Man Who Touched His Own Heart, The Wild Life of Our Bodies, and Every Living Thing, and his magazine work is published widely, including in National Geographic, Natural History, New Scientist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian. He has a PhD from the University of Connecticut and was a Fulbright Fellow. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
"Once again Rob Dunn shows how relevant knowledge of natural history and ecology is to the environment and to the details of our personal lives."
– Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
"This is a compelling, beautifully written and urgently needed book for everyone interested in the past, present and future of agriculture. By weaving together science, history and biography, Dunn will transform how you think about sustainability in an increasingly complex and precarious world in which we rely on just a few industrial crops to feed more than seven billion people."
– Daniel E. Lieberman, author of The Story of the Human Body
"Part cautionary tale and part call to arms, Rob Dunn's new book vividly exposes the vulnerability of our most important crops. An alarming and illuminating read."
– Thor Hanson, author of The Triumph of Seeds
"Rob Dunn is master story-teller with an insatiable curiosity, an old soul, and an absolute love of science and history. In Never Out of Season Rob combines these qualities with his deep knowledge of natural history, evolutionary biology and human behavior. The result is a book that is both of profound importance, and impossible to put down."
– Josh Tewksbury, Future Earth Research Professor, University of Colorado
"Never Out of Season is an extraordinary achievement. In it, Dunn tells the story of the most important of all human endeavors from the perspective of an ecologist. He celebrates our successes and draws lessons from our follies with equal parts humor and wit."
– Colin Khoury, International Center for Tropical Agriculture
"Nature is threatened, by our simplification of the Earth. But, as Dunn makes clear in this soon to be classic page turner of a book, this simplification of nature makes us ever more rather than less dependent on nature. This is a lesson we need to heed now at a time in which our bananas, but also our wheat, our cassava and even the rubber in our tires is threatened like never before. Everyone who eats should read Never Out of Season."
– Paul R. Ehrlich, author of Human Natures
"A convincing argument that the agricultural revolution that has made food more readily available around the world contains the seeds of its own destruction [...] An alarming account but one suggesting that, armed with knowledge, we can reverse this way of treating the plants that feed us and find a way toward a more sustainable diet."
"Forget about cooking books. This is the most important book you will read about food this year. Every single page has surprising facts and insights. The health of the planet depends on us eating more plants. But the monoculture of our foods that dominates global crops could have disastrous effects if we don't begin to think differently. Never Out of Season will change forever the way you look at a potato, a banana, or your chocolate bar."
– Peter C. Kjaergaard, Museum Director and Professor of Evolutionary History, Natural History Museum of Denmark
"Dunn [...] cautions against monoculture in this cogent and optimistic examination of our food system, arguing that having whatever food we want whenever we want isn't necessarily a good thing [...] That scientists and researchers continue to play significant roles in the fight for agricultural diversity and sustainability gives Dunn hope."
– Publishers Weekly