The Third Plate

  • by Dan Barber
  • Narrated by Dan Barber
  • 14 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Third Plate is chef Dan Barber’s extraordinary vision for a new future of American eating. After more than a decade spent investigating farming communities around the world in pursuit of singular flavor, Barber finally concluded that - for the sake of our food, our health, and the future of the land - America’s cuisine required a radical transformation.
The revelations Barber shares in The Third Plate took root in his restaurant’s kitchen. But his process of discovery took him far afield - to alternative systems of food production and cooking that maximize sustainability, nutrition, and flavor. Barber explores the traditional farming practices of the Spanish dehesa, a uniquely vibrant landscape that has been fine-tuned to produce the famed jamón ibérico. Along the Atlantic coast, he investigates the future of seafood through a revolutionary aquaculture operation and an ancient tuna fishing tradition. In upstate New York, Barber learns from a flourishing mixed-crop farm whose innovative organic practices have revived the land and resurrected an industry. And in Washington State he works with cutting-edge seedsmen developing new varieties of grain in collaboration with local bakers, millers, and malters. Drawing on the wisdom and experience of chefs and farmers from around the world, Barber proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating destined to refashion Americans’ deepest beliefs about food.
Traditionally, Americans have dined on the "first plate", a classic meal centered on meat with few vegetables. Thanks to the burgeoning farm-to-table movement, many people have begun eating from the "second plate", the new ideal of organic, grass-fed meats and local vegetables. But neither model, Barber shows, supports the long-term productivity of the land. Instead, he calls for a "third plate", a new pattern of eating rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm - an integrated system of vegetable, grain, and livestock production.
The Third Plate is truly a publishing event: a monumental work of personal insight and global analysis that definitively remakes the understanding of nutrition, agriculture, and taste for the 21st century. Barber charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I don't think I'm the intended market for the book

What made the experience of listening to The Third Plate the most enjoyable?

There are some interesting aspects to the book, like learning about how cows can sense healthier grass, and the author's detailed explanations of how and why organic goods are tastier (something I never really believed, although I support organic/sustainable agriculture anyway).


Who was your favorite character and why?

The author. He tells personal stories along the way of finding answers to his questions.


Did Dan Barber do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

I suppose. Kinda neutral on this one.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really. I believe the author is sincere in his quest, but not being a foodie, farmer, or even gardener, I found myself spacing out a lot of the time.


Any additional comments?

I read reviews that compared this book to Omnivore's Dilemma. It's an apt comparison, but I would add that if OD was the equivalent of a "Food 101" course, then Third Plate is like a senior seminar. It's quite a step up in terms of depth, in my opinion, and probably best for people with established deep interest in farming or cooking in gourmet restaurants. I'm sure it's an amazing book for it's target market, but I'm just casually trying to learn more about biology. The author is clearly very knowledgeable on the topic and I would encourage anyone that fits the above description to give this a read.

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- Steven D. Ward

Good Information - Well Told

If you could sum up The Third Plate in three words, what would they be?

Know Your Food


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Third Plate?

I am so happy to read a book about food that starts with a discussion of the quality of the soil, the presence of indigenous plants, shrubs and trees as forage for animals, and the criteria of flavor as the most important quality of food. This is an important book and is also informative and entertaining.


Which scene was your favorite?

I especially enjoyed his description of the Glass Onion cafe and its menu.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Not really since this is non-fiction. Must say that the degradation of American food sometimes makes me cry and any discussion of Round Up Ready seed always makes me cry. Barber discusses the age old tradition of seed saving and how important that is to the very essence of farming and what blasphemy it is for a chemical company to patent seeds that they couldn't possibly 'own'.


Any additional comments?

The chef/writer is probably not the best reader for this book. His narrations becomes a little dull at times whereas a professional could enliven the text more. Also, I wish non-fiction work such as this could come with a bibliography in pdf for download. Barber refers to many other books and articles; many of them I would like to read.

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- masonpamela@sprintmail.com "Country life, raising plants, hard working, love reading, wishing I had more time to read, aging, soon will have more time to read."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-20-2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio