Third Plate Bookclub

Dan Barber and the Future of Food

On top of being a pro-farmer, ecologically-minded chef, Dan Barber is a masterful storyteller. The cool thing about the stories Dan tells is that…Read Linley’s appeal to join our next book club discussing Third Plate by Dan in this week’s letter below:


Dan Barber speaks and gestures to an unseen crowd.

“What we need now is a radically new conception of agriculture, one in which the food actually tastes good.

But for a lot people, that’s a bit too radical. We’re not realists, us foodies; we’re lovers. We love farmers’ markets, we love small family farms, we talk about local food, we eat organic.

And when you suggest these are the things that will ensure the future of good food, someone, somewhere stands up and says, ‘Hey guy, I love pink flamingos, but how are you going to feed the world?’

Can I be honest? I don’t love that question. No, not because we already produce enough calories to more than feed the world. One billion people will go hungry today. One billion — that’s more than ever before — because of gross inequalities in distribution, not tonnage. Now, I don’t love this question because it’s determined the logic of our food system for the last 50 years.

Want to feed the world? Let’s start by asking: How are we going to feed ourselves? Or better: How can we create conditions that enable every community to feed itself?”

– Dan Barber


Dear Friend,

We are beyond excited for our next Third Plate book club session with renowned chef Dan Barber.

Dan has embraced his unexpected fame as a chef to raise awareness about a failing food system. In our first podcast interview with him, he marvels about the fact that people list chef’s among the most trusted professions. He acknowledges that there is a great responsibility that comes with people’s confidence for the white coats (as he calls chefs). And in that sense, Dan Barber is a true leader.

Chefs like Dan are adored by farmers.

It is rare to find a chef who really plans their menu around the food in season and purchases in bulk from local farms. This is because he believes whole-heartedly that his purpose as a chef is to create food centered around whatever farmers need to sell so that we can be, well…better farmers.

Not sure what I mean by this? Dan is loaded with examples. Take Veal.

  • There is a humane way to raise it and every ecological dairy should be selling it for an additional income stream because dairies have no use for half the calves that are born (those that are male).
  • Every dairy should also be raising pigs who love to eat the leftover whey from cheesemaking.
  • Who says small diverse farms aren’t efficient?

Or, how about buckwheat?

  • Buckwheat is an important, quick-to-mature, warm season cover crop that farmers use to suppress weeds, attract beneficial insects, and help hold fertility for future crops.
  • It is especially useful on low fertility soils.
  • Enter the Soba Noodle (made out of buckwheat).
Looking at the crops that make up traditional diets, these are examples of how crops are always part of a puzzle that fits together to produce soil, animal, and human health.


Chef Dan Barber wears a white chef coat and sits in front of a barn door with leaves starting to turn orange growing behind him.

We interviewed Dan Barber at Stone Barnes with Eliot Coleman. Watch Here.


Our first interview with Dan Barber discussed ideas from his book, The Third Plate. Watch here or above.

On top of being a pro-farmer, ecologically-minded chef, Dan Barber is a masterful storyteller.

The cool thing about the stories Dan tells is that so many of them are based on information that humanity used to know, but that we have since lost in our mad, single-minded, rush for greater yields (at the expense of human and planetary health).

His two Ted Talks have both received hundreds of thousands of views: 

How I Fell in Love With a Fish

A Foie Gras Parable.

I highly recommend you watch both of them. He is funny and inspiring. 

His book, the Third Plate tells stories of how culture and healthy, ethical food (that happens to also taste good) are intimately connected.

When we celebrate diverse cultures we preserve the good food that comes with them. You actually can’t have one without the other. It’s why, in his mind, the future of food is neither McDonalds nor environmental veganism. It is honoring the wisdom of our collective past.

We’ll see all our sustaining “Real Friend” members on Monday, Oct 17th at 6 Eastern with chef and author Dan Barber!

Yours in the dirt,

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