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Bookmarked: Unhappy Cows, Wall Street vs. Food, and The Quantum Universe

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Bonne connaissance!


Pioneering food activist John Robbins’ provocative observations about food politics and eating more consciously have inspired a generation to reexamine what’s on their plates and embrace a healthier organic diet. No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2012) is a collection of his most widely discussed and circulated Huffington Post columns, along with some important new writing. Topics include whether soy is healthy or harmful, the marketing of junk food to children, health implications of chocolate and coffee, the rise of obesity in America, and the relationship between animals and the humans who raise them. Read the book’s introduction.





Land Grabbers CoverIn The Land Grabbers (Beacon Press, 2012), Fred Pearce travels across the globe to investigate the growing trend of land grabbing, detailing how foreign investors are purchasing or leasing substantial plots of land in developing countries in order to produce and secure goods (such as food and biofuels) for their own uses. In doing so, Pearce uncovers some of the most profound ethical, environmental, economic, and social issues in the world today. This book explores how the world’s richest countries, corporations, and individuals are buying up our hungry, crowded world. Read Chapter 2, “Chicago, U.S.A.: The Price of Food.”  





The-Quantum-Universe-Book-CoverQuantum physics prompted even Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman to admit, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” Although it encompasses everything from how a ball moves through the air to how trees create oxygen, from how a computer’s circuit board functions to the life cycle of a star, understanding quantum physics means disregarding everyday perceptions of how the world works. Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw shed a little light on how the universe as we know it behaves in The Quantum Universe (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) (Da Cappo Press, 2011). Read the first chapter, “Something Strange Is Afoot.”