• The Fate of Food

  • What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World
  • By: Amanda Little
  • Narrated by: Amanda Little
  • Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (191 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2019 Nautilus Book Award.

In the fascinating story of the sustainable food revolution, an environmental journalist and professor asks the question: Is the future of food looking bleak - or better than ever?

“In The Fate of Food, Amanda Little takes us on a tour of the future. The journey is scary, exciting, and, ultimately, encouraging.” (Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction)

Climate models show that global crop production will decline every decade for the rest of this century due to drought, heat, and flooding. Water supplies are in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the world’s population is expected to grow another 30 percent by midcentury. So how, really, will we feed nine billion people sustainably in the coming decades?

Amanda Little, a professor at Vanderbilt University and an award-winning journalist, spent three years traveling through a dozen countries and as many US states in search of answers to this question. Her journey took her from an apple orchard in Wisconsin to a remote control organic farm in Shanghai, from Norwegian fish farms to famine-stricken regions of Ethiopia. The race to reinvent the global food system is on, and the challenge is twofold: We must solve the existing problems of industrial agriculture while also preparing for the pressures ahead. Through her interviews and adventures with farmers, scientists, activists, and engineers, Little tells the fascinating story of human innovation and explores new and old approaches to food production while charting the growth of a movement that could redefine sustainable food on a grand scale. She meets small permaculture farmers and “Big Food”executives, botanists studying ancient superfoods and Kenyan farmers growing the country's first GMO corn. She travels to places that might seem irrelevant to the future of food yet surprisingly play a critical role - a California sewage plant, a US Army research lab, even the inside of a monsoon cloud above Mumbai. Little asks tough questions: Can GMOs actually be good for the environment - and for us? Are we facing the end of animal meat? What will it take to eliminate harmful chemicals from farming? How can a clean, climate-resilient food supply become accessible to all? 

Throughout her journey, Little finds and shares a deeper understanding of the threats of climate change and encounters a sense of awe and optimism about the lessons of our past and the scope of human ingenuity.

©2019 Amanda Little (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“What we grow and how we eat are going to change radically over the next few decades. In The Fate of Food, Amanda Little takes us on a tour of the future. The journey is scary, exciting, and, ultimately, encouraging.” (Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction)

“The challenge we face is not just to feed a more populous world, but to do this sustainably and equitably. Amanda Little brings urgency, intrigue and crack reporting to the story of our food future. Devour this book - it’s a narrative feast!” (Chef José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize nominee) 

“How will we feed humanity in the era of climate change? Amanda Little tackles an immense topic with grit and optimism in this fast, fascinating read. A beautifully written triumph.” (Former secretary of state John Kerry) 

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What listeners say about The Fate of Food

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Wow.

Witty, data-driven, funny, and at times appalling; I found myself nearly out of my chair, standing up and cheering for the human race like a favorite team for its ingenuity and resilience. Then, not half a chapter later, booing them (us) for dropping the ball.

11 people found this helpful

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Pretty much a white ethnocentric journalistic take

I was very disappointed by this book. While it offers some really neat examples, it really offers nothing that can't be found in magazine, journalist, and blog publications freely on the internet. The position of the author is very niave as to the ways of the world, often getting close to seeing the true issues of profit-base-exploitation which her own travels perpetuates and makes obvious yet she suddenly shirking away from acknowledging, likely due to a privileged perspective. The continual insistence that new methods of capitalism dominance and industry, with new modern twists, is somehow our savior from climate change, ecological disruption, and third world human experiences, despite the examples given often not deliverying any substantial results. I stayed on reading it, the whole way through, waiting for some wiser perspective to be acquired and noted, but only once is the extreme privilege of the author acknowledged and when it is, it is quickly brushed over than the errors noted are then repeated. One star felt generous.

8 people found this helpful

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An essential read

Amanda Little successfully challenges a lot of conventional wisdom and assumptions in this book. I came away with a lot to consider, and more new questions than answers. If you're interested in food, how we make it, why we eat it, and how we're going to deal with the stresses of a warming world with too many people in it, this book is a must-read.
I do have one complaint, which is why I can't go the full five stars. Ms. Little gestures at discussing how many of the solutions explored in this book result in an increasingly stratified society of haves and have-nots, but I feel that this topic deserves its own chapter, rather than glancing references in and amongst the descriptions of technical innovation.
Still, you should read this.

6 people found this helpful

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interesting and informative

great book. didn't want it to end! I'm feeling more open minded and optimistic about the future now.

5 people found this helpful

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Great look into the future of our food systems

Amanda Little makes the wonderful point that the "back to old ways of growing" versus the "techno-food future" debate is a false dichotomy. In this well-written and very balanced account she follows individuals from a diverse set of food production perspectives and theories of change to show that they are all needed and that maybe things won't be as bad as they might seem.

2 people found this helpful

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Daunting and enlivening

How Prof. Little accomplished (and financed) this journey is beyond me, but this is the finest piece of scientific journalism I’ve read in a long time. It calls to mind Elizabeth Kolbert and her work. The story to me is both fascinating and gripping, and I loved hearing the author’s own voice!

2 people found this helpful

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Border perspective to food

Amazing performance. Pleasant to listen to. The Fate of food does a nice job capturing a broad food perspective that is much needed. Listening to this audio book has helped me broaden my sustainable food system perspective. Humbled and excited by how much more there is to learn about food. Thank you.

2 people found this helpful

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Couldn't Finish It

I've been listening to audiobooks since I was a kid, and I've been an Audible subscriber for almost 15 years. I've listened to a ton of audiobooks during my commutes, while I do chores, and while at work, and I can only think of two other times I quit a book because the narration was too bad to finish.

The topic is great. The narration is SO BAD.

I want to finish it. The subject is near and dear to me. Honestly, I'll either buy the book or get it from the library, but I wish I hadn't waited so long to listen to the book so I could return it to Audible. The author is the reader, and she imparts every sentence with a heavy finality that's meant to convey the seriousness of the issue, I believe, but just ends up sounding monotone and like every sentence should be a conclusion (making you want to stop).

If you need a little more lively and performative narration to keep your attention, skip this.

1 person found this helpful

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Packed full of information

There is a lot of personal bias in the form of vegan altruism that is slightly hard to swallow, but I can respect why some people might share this personal value. Otherwise, its packed with a lot of great information that satisfied my desire to listen to the book.

1 person found this helpful

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Mind Blowing!

Easy to follow, great story, interesting facts of the food industry! Eye opening of the innovations around the world.

1 person found this helpful