Named one of Smithsonian’s best books about food 2016.
Read a feature in The Wall Street Journal.
Listen to an interview on National Public Radio.
See an op-ed in The Guardian.
Read a review in Science.
“Brimming with information and amply footnoted, Bread, Wine, Chocolate is a revelation throughout.” – Science
“… full of wonderfully geeky bits of science, including an excellent section on how memory and culture influences our perception of taste. But Sethi’s friendly, welcoming tone makes serious topics digestible and pleasurable. ‘Eat and drink with reverence and gusto, whether it’s a Big Mac or a mountain of kale,’ she writes, with an admirable lack of foodie pretension.” – Associated Press
“Is biodiversity the key to a better cup of coffee? And how sexy can achieving food security really be? Simran Sethi’s answers are ‘yes’ and ‘you’d be surprised.’ In her book, [she] looks at ways in which monoculture and an increasingly standardized global diet put food systems in peril and leave crops vulnerable to blight and climate change. And she does so winningly, by relishing her favorite things to eat and drink, visiting the places they’re produced, digging up their stories and teasing out nuances of flavor unique to individual varieties and landscapes.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Unlike many other recent books that cover some of the same territory, what sets Sethi’s work apart is her joyous, generous attitude toward the human appetite.” – The Boston Globe
“A world in which we all consume the same food will end up with a serving of disaster. Supermarket shelves filled with the exotic give a false impression, warns environmentalist Simran Sethi. Her new book exposes the dangers of eating a small number of the same things.” – The Guardian
“Our tables … are never really of, or for, one, as Sethi elegantly shows us.” – NPR
In the last century, we have lived – and eaten – through the most dramatic shifts ever experienced in food and agriculture. While much of this is invisible, what we do know is that food is beginning to look and taste the same, whether you’re strolling through a San Francisco farmers market, at a Midwestern potluck – or a McDonald’s in India. Ninety-five percent of the world’s calories now come from only 30 species, and a closer look at America’s cornucopia of grocery store options reveals that our foods are primarily made up of only corn, wheat, rice, palm oil and soybeans. Food itself – the most delicious, diverse varieties of food – is being lost, slowly and irrevocably.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Join award-winning journalist Simran Sethi as she travels from wild coffee forests in Ethiopia to cocoa plantations of Ecuador, from the brewery to the bakery and the temple, to meet scientists, farmers, chefs, wine makers, beer brewers, coffee roasters and chocolate connoisseurs to discuss the reasons for this loss and learn what it means to experience food in a whole new way, tasting foods more deeply through each one of our senses in order to savor – and save – the foods we love.
Bread, Wine, Chocolate was featured on The Splendid Table, CBS News, Forbes, in The Wall Street Journal and on their podcast, PRI’s The World, The Guardian, Civil Eats, NPR, USA TODAY and Quartz. The book was reviewed by Science, Orion Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Independent, Experience Life Magazine, Organic Life Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
A reading of the bread chapter by the author:
ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR BREAD, WINE, CHOCOLATE:
“In a new book, author Simran Sethi argues that we are facing one of the most radical shifts in food ever.” – Smithsonian Magazine
“A heartfelt lament for the homogenisation of our taste buds.” – The Independent
“In Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Simran Sethi sets out to discover diversity—to find the corners of the world where the foods we cherish are thriving in multiplicity instead of surviving in monoculture. Sethi travels across six continents to talk to farmers, brewers, bakers and winemakers working to foment more delicious food and drink and, in doing so, build resilience in agriculture.” – Orion Magazine
“Simran Sethi’s new book is a love letter to foods at risk of disappearing due to industrialization, monoculture and the rapid loss of biodiversity.” – Civil Eats
“Read this wonderful book and you will become immersed in the intricate worlds of no less than six (delicious) foods and drinks. But this is not really a book about food. Rather, it is about our relationships with the life forms that sustain us—and how we might learn to approach those relationships with far more love, compassion and good taste.”
– Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
“We need more investigative journalists like Simran Sethi. She writes with a deep understanding of pleasure and taste to convey her urgent message—we must make uncompromising, purposeful choices when it comes to what we eat before it’s too late! Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love is a loving call to action that we must heed.”
– Alice Waters, chef, author and the proprietor of Chez Panisse
“Simran Sethi’s passionate book on food and biodiversity reminds us how healing food can be. The world is on our plate.”
– Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of more than 80 books, including Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being
“When we taste, we taste history—the interplay of crops, livestock and even wild things—with our own human cultures. And we taste diversity: genetic diversity, cultural diversity. Simran Sethi’s book opens this world to a new generation by focusing on foods we think we know, but don’t.
Bread, Wine, Chocolate helps us understand the richness of these foods and others, and why it is essential to preserve diversity if we wish to appreciate and fully benefit from such foods in the future. Readers of this book will both enjoy and be enlightened; many will even find their taste buds subtly changed by a new awareness of what they are really eating.”
– Cary Fowler, senior advisor to the Global Crop Diversity Trust
“This absorbing book serves to remind us that biodiversity, through a diversity of species, varieties and breeds of plant and animal foods, including wild food, underpins dietary diversity, good nutrition and health. It also underscores the need to place a renewed emphasis on sustaining the natural varieties of crops and animals contributing to agriculture, including neglected yet nutritious traditional foods, in order to improve food security.”
– Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Convention on Biological Diversity
“An important component of agrobiodiversity is culinary and cultural diversity. This beautiful book brings into sharp focus the threat to culinary diversity as a result of genetic erosion. Already the food basket is shrinking and a few crops are occupying the dominant position in our daily diet. Simran Sethi has, through this book, brought out clearly the importance of diversity of food and the need for the conservation of the foods whose taste we cherish and enjoy. The book provides a rationale for the need for a culinary revolution in all parts of the world.”
– M. S. Swaminathan, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
“In this illuminating and impactful book, Simran Sethi sheds light on the dwindling diversity of our diets and our landscapes through the stories of our most beloved tastes. The solution to this global agricultural and culinary crisis, she argues, lies in our collective palates. Bread, Wine, Chocolate calls on all of us to cherish—and thus preserve—the world’s endangered flavors.”
– Dan Barber, New York Times bestselling author of The Third Plate
“A powerful reminder that we can eat in ways that don’t cause damage to the planet or its poorest people—and that can delight us, not just fill us up. Don’t read it on an empty stomach!”
– Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“For a world that has forgotten the primal joys of naked wine and honest bread, Simran Sethi offers a wake-up call. Bread, Wine, Chocolate provides a full-contact sensory tour through the making and savoring of our greatest foods and drinks, showing why the survival of these gems is essential for our souls, as well as the world’s agricultural biodiversity. Food is connection. Industrial agriculture obscures that basic truth, but Bread, Wine, Chocolate will help you relearn how to taste—and how to fall in love with—the things of the world all over again.”
– Rowan Jacobsen, author of American Terroir and Apples of Uncommon Character
“Bread, Wine, Chocolate reads like a page-turning novel. The author writes like a dream, and she leaves the reader with an intimate and changed relationship to the foods and drinks (e.g. bread, wine, beer, chocolate, coffee) that delight us. What the book jacket says is true: ‘This is a book about food, but it’s really a book about love.'”
– Harriet Lerner, author of New York Times Bestseller The Dance of Anger
“We all have our love affair with food. Some care more than others. Simran Sethi gives us many reasons to care about what we eat. She has brought to life the issues with our food system and the roles we play to either improve or destroy our food supply at every level. Being a student and lover of life sciences, I loved the connections made with our foods. Bread, Wine, Chocolate is an exciting, riveting read for anyone who cares!”
– Floyd Cardoz, executive chef and Food TV’s Humanitarian of the Year
“Learn how to save foods by eating them!”
– Van Jones, CNN commentator
“By turns explorer and explainer, Simran Sethi conducts a thoughtful and heartfelt tour of humanity’s most beloved tastes—and the threats that could extinguish them forever.”
– Michael Brune, Sierra Club
“Follow Simran on a journey with a lifetime companion: taste buds. They are not baubles to be manipulated by food conglomerates. Taste buds are the most precious of gifts. They are evolution itself, a teacher, a kindness, a guide sorting out millions of molecules, a doorman making sure that everything we chew and savor is on the guest list.
In this needed and nourishing volume, you will discover how tastes can recover an even larger sense, a self that is intimately connected to a vast, pulsating life of ecstasy and delight. Read this and you will understand that cuisine is how we kiss the world. There is more good news: It kisses back.”
– Paul Hawken, New York Times bestselling author of Natural Capitalism and Blessed Unrest
“A passionate plea to save and restore the things most precious about our food—its myriad flavors and its connection with nature. As global economic forces slowly squeeze the uniqueness out of what we eat, Simran Sethi explores the culinary delights that offer hope, and deliciousness, for the future.”
– John McQuaid, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat
“Bread, Wine, Chocolate is not just a compilation of Sethi’s enormously complex and illuminating findings about this pressing issue, but also an astute commentary on tasting—getting intimate with what we choose to consume for it reflects who we are.” – epicure Magazine
“Sethi’s perspective is a vital addition to our ongoing conversations about the flaws in our food system, and her book offers a compelling treatise on what is truly at stake. Bread, Wine, Chocolate is for anyone who has ever longed for a richer understanding of the foods you love, and for greater awareness of what it takes to bring them to you. It’s for anyone who believes that the food choices you make are emblems for how you live your life. It’s for anyone who has ever sensed that preserving our planet and its agriculture is really about preserving ourselves.” – Experience Life Magazine
“… Sethi’s book is full of evidence that there’s already a renaissance in diversity underway.” – Grist
“By telling the stories of the farmers, chocolate makers, brewers and winemakers she meets along her way through six continents, Simran reminds us why we shouldn’t just think of them as annoyingly trendy. It is important for us, as consumers, to support them.” – Serious Eats
“Simran dove into her subject with an overwhelming passion—she insists it’s a book about food which is really about love—that borders on the transcendent. A spiritual tone infuses the book—she treats her subjects with reverence and her insights with awe. She’s intoxicated with the subject, and it shows—her writing glows with the same inspiration that was ignited within me in 2003, and warms me still.”
– Peter Giuliano, Specialty Coffee Association of America
“It is simply one of the best and most affecting books on biodiversity that I have read in a very long time.”
– Megan Larmer, Slow Food USA
“You will learn a dizzying amount. You will enjoy every minute of it. You will think about food a little bit differently. It’s intimate and wide-ranging. It is one of the most exhaustively researched books I can remember reading. It reports on parts of the story of food that most of us rarely encounter—for example, Simran Sethi travels to Ethiopia to interview wild forest coffee pickers. No English-language journalist or coffee person that I know if has ever done that before, even though this is one of the most important stories coffee has to tell.”
– Hanna Neuschwander, World Coffee Research
“Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love is destined to join the books of Michael Pollan and Dan Barber as must-reads for anyone interested in biodiversity and sustainability. Her book, loaded with important information about the fragility of our ecosystem and food chain, is also lush with great food writing and tasting strategies for how anyone can access the subtle flavors and regional distinctiveness of chocolate, coffee, beer, wine and, of course, bread. More importantly, while the book is alarming as it reveals how close we are to wiping out vital species … it also provides hope and a way that each of us can help effect a transformative change.”
– Peter Reinhart, baker and James Beard Award-winning author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
“Part memoir, part travelogue, part treatise but never doctrinaire, in Bread, Wine, Chocolate, Simran Sethi makes her case for biodiversity and sustainability. In this compelling, readable narrative we follow Simran through her very personal journey spanning five years of global travel over six continents, encouraging us all along the way to make our food choices based on quality over quantity and curated culinary pleasures over gluttony.”
– Mike Colameco, host/producer of “Mike Colameco’s Real Food” on PBS
“The history of how bread, wine and chocolate entered our lives, related by Simran Sethi, is both inspiring and humbling. Humbling because of the richness and diversity of tastes that we can enjoy and that fill our souls. And inspiring, as it invites us to be curious about their origins and mindful of the hard work of the many men and women that grow, process and make these delights possible. The diversity is threatened and disappearing fast, and this book wakes us up to value these precious resources and stop this process.”
– Brigitte Laliberté, Bioversity International
“While taking on some of the most urgent challenges facing our entire food system, Simran Sethi shares a fascinating journey that’s a delight to read. Her discovery process—from pleasure to investigative research to rich insight—of some of our most culturally beloved foods is an important reminder of all our capacities’ to enact change, and will be inspiring to an any avid eater.”
– Cathy Erway, Host, Eat Your Words, Heritage Radio Network
“While she maps the geography of food, Simran has also mapped the geography of the heart.” – UC Food Observer
“I learned things that were hard to know, like the cost of industrialized agriculture and the shocking suicide rate of farmers, the people who work most closely with the land. But Sethi didn’t leave me in a place of despair. Instead, she woke me up and reminded me that none of us are alone. Her book evoked connection, intimacy with the world. She showed how saving the foods we love is really about saving ourselves and each other, is really about reconnection.”
– Jen Violi, author of Putting Makeup on Dead People
“A stirring call to arms for anyone who loves food!”
– Andrea Reusing, James Beard Award-winning chef and author of Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes
“When Simran Sethi lasers in on a topic, stop and take notice. She is a fierce observer and a cool head in a world riven with misinformation, disinformation and just plain wrong-headedness. Her new book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate, should be required reading for culinary students, chefs in training, journalists, scholars, cooks and citizens who care about what they put into their mouths as well as what we’re doing to Mother Earth.
All I can say to you is: Watch out Gary Taubes, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Nina Planck. There’s a new expert coming on the scene. A hot new voice of reason in a cold, frightened world, Simran Sethi is the kind of writer who can coat the bitter pill in honey and we all just swallow and say thank you.”
– Linda West Eckhardt, IACP Julia Child Award-winning author of Bread in Half the Time