Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vote for the title of my new book

I am busy writing a new book with the Title: ??? - VOTE !!!! (see poll on the side)
Industrial food and farming have been very successful in producing more food, and cheaper food. But it has come at a very high price. The practices have wrecked havoc in important biological systems, in particular in bio-diversity and the nitrogen and carbon cycles. It also squanders its own resource base and the most precious resource on the planet, the soil. Animals are treated in a disgraceful way. While food is abundant, the distribution system, the market, fails to reach 1 billion people which are hungry. More and more people are opposing the modern food system, a few have the energy to build a new different parts of a new system.

??? - VOTE !!!! explains how our food and farm system developed into the system we have today, and how interdependent our food system and society are. Gunnar Rundgren demonstrates how farming and food processing technologies, how and what we eat have transformed our lives and our relationship not only with nature, the plants we grow and the animals we raise, but also the relationships among ourselves.

The last few hundred years, and in an sharply increasing pace, width and depth, the global market revolution fueled by oil and coal, and shaped by endless competition and rent-seeking has been the factor that has determined the whole food system, from the prairies to the supermarket shelf, from the production of margarine to the emergence of fast food chains. It even transformed the act of eating from an act of confirmation of social relations to individual satisfaction of real or imaginary dietary needs. The meal is replaced by the micro-wave. 

But it left us, the animals and the planet unhappy. Most people feel a profound discomfort over how their food is produced and how this affects both the quality of the food and the world we live in. As a response to this organic farming, local foods, fair trade and alike has developed. However, these systems are by and large still subject to the market imperatives of competition, profit and constant labor productivity increase, and increasingly so the more successful they are. This limits their transformational power.

Real change of our farm and food system must be linked also to changes in social institutions, in particular the market. This has already started with efforts such as community supported agriculture, local food movements, participatory guarantee systems and urban farming. A truly regenerative food and farm system will close loops of flow of energy, nutrients and most importantly meaning and culture. It will also have to reflect the role of our agriculture system for management of the planet at large.

??? - VOTE !!!!  shows a path forward. A path of regeneration and co-production of resources, innovation, knowledge and meaning embedded in new social and economic relationships. 
The book mixes reports from my own experiences and other case studies with solid research. Five special chapters deal with the real heavy weights in human agriculture: Grazing animals, grains, sugar, fats and chicken, all showing important aspects of how our food system evolved. Each chapter starts with a recipe related to the theme. 
This is a presentation of my present book project. I am deep into research now, plan to have manuscript ready by end of the year.  Help me with the title by voting, or posting comments. 
Publishers are more than welcome to contact me for a discussion...
oops, the bread is burning, have to go!!!

Tentative table of content

– 1 – Introduction 4

Part I: What farming is and how we eat and how we farm belong together 8
– 2 – Let there be light 8
– 3 – From foragers to farming civilizations 11
– 4 – Green 16
– 5 – From sickle to combine harvester 17
– 6 – Grain 22
– 7 – Population 25
– 8 – Sweet 29
– 9 – The food revolution 34
– 10 – Fat 42
– 11 – The Earth is Flat 44
– 12 – Crunchy 52
– 13 – The Food Chain 55
– 14 – The Emperors new dish 59
– 15 – Cooking and eating 63
– 16 – Nutrition 68
– 17 – Follow the money 73

Part II: How modern farming threatens our existence 75
– 18 – The greatest single experiment in global geoengineering ever made 75
– 19 – The biological war 78
– 20 – Ecosystem services 81
– 21 – Agriculture and Energy 85
– 22 – Water 89
– 23 – The thin skin of the planet 92
– 24 – Growing hunger 95
– 25 – Speculation 98
– 26 – Food manipulation 101

Part III: discussion 102
– 27 – Productivity in Farming 102
– 28 – Will there be enough food in the future? 106
– 29 – Cars, animals or people? 109
– 30 – New Rabbits 113
– 31 – The agriculture treadmill 116

Part IV Food and farming for the 21st century 121
– 32 – Alternatives 121
– 33 – Where shall the food come from? 125
– 34 – Consumption and life style 128
– 35 – Political solutions 129
– 36 – Economic solutions 131
– 37 – Towards a Land and Food Ethics 132


  1. Title suggestion: Global eating disorder: how food and farming became a menace.

    1. I like that!
      The title should trigger desire to read the book (that sounds obvious, but some of the titles you proposed, Gunnar, frankly don't, e.g. the first option).

  2. Something along the lines of:

    Healing the hurts of modern day food production

  3. Hi Gunnar,

    Saw your post on LinkedIn, and I like the title above, "Global eating disorder". If you want to discuss publishing options, I've written 32 books with 3 major publishers, and now publish books for my clients.
    - good luck!

  4. Hi Gunner,

    I saw your post on LinkedIn. I like the title suggestion "Global eating disorder".

  5. I like the suggestion above: 'Global Eating Disorder, how food and farming became a menace'
    An alternate subtitle could be 'The high cost of cheap food'
    I look forward to reading your book. Be sure to let us know when it is available.

  6. It seems that I owe Pelle Fredriksson a free book! Lauries suggestion to sub title is also interesting.

    (For once) I had planned to be a bit more serious in my discussions about how a better system could look like and not only talk about the bads of the current system. The question is then if the title also needs to reflect that?

  7. Pelle's main title and Laurie's subtitle are perfect - witty, relevant to the subject, and makes you want to learn more…. perhaps even buy the book!

  8. Sorry, to clarify, I prefer Laurie's alternative subtitle. It's less "sensationalist" yet describes the issue perfectly.

    1. I also agree that Laurie's subtitle is better than my original. But I also like Gunnar's idea of a subtitle that reflects on the possibility of a better system.

  9. OK, now I have two alternatives:
    Curing the Global Eating Disorder – why cheap food is bad for us
    The Global Eating Disorder – the true cost of cheap food
    Which one is the better?