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The Third Plate

Field Notes on the Future of Food
Narrated by: Dan Barber
Length: 14 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (896 ratings)

Regular price: $35.00

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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.

©2014 Dan Barber (P)2014 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“[A]uthor Dan Barber's tales are engaging, funny and delicious... The Third Plate invites inevitable comparisons with Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which Barber invokes more than once. And, indeed, its framework of a foodie seeking truth through visits with sages and personal experiments echoes Pollan's landmark tome (not to mention his passages on wheat cultivation, which, astonishingly, best Pollan's corn cultivation chapters by many pages.) But at the risk of heresy, I would call this The Omnivore's Dilemma 2.0... The Third Plate serves as a brilliant culinary manifesto with a message as obvious as it is overlooked. Promote, grow and eat a diet that's in harmony with the earth and the earth will reward you for it. It's an inspiring message that could truly help save our water, air and land before it's too late.” (The Chicago Tribune)

"Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.... Barber is helping to write a recipe for the sustainable production of gratifying food." (The Washington Post)

“There hasn’t been a call-to-action book with the potential to change the way we eat since Michael Pollan’s 2006 release, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Now there is. Dan Barber’s The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food is a compelling global journey in search of a new understanding about how to build a more sustainable food system….The Third Plate is an argument for good rather than an argument against bad. This recipe might at times be challenging, but what’s served in the end is a dish for a better future….Barber writes a food manifesto for the ages.” (Pittsburgh-Post Gazette)

"Compelling... The Third Plate reimagines American farm culture not as a romantic return to simpler times but as a smart, modern version of it...The Third Plate is fun to read, a lively mix of food history, environmental philosophy and restaurant lore... an important and exciting addition to the sustainability discussion.” (The Wall Street Journal)

What members say

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This is what a paradigm shift feels like.

Well researched and thoughtfully presented. This book is a blueprint for an intelligent food production discussion as we try to recover from consequences of current agriculture policy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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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.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking

Loved it. This book has made me rethink everything I eat and do. Enough story telling to keep you engagef

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I love this book.

Would you listen to The Third Plate again? Why?

I have listened to the Third Plate again and again. I hear something new each time.

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

Dan's visit to Spain has me planning and saving so I can make the trip!

Any additional comments?

This book and Dan's view has opened many doors and sparked ideas that I have acted upon. I consider myself a self educated foodie and Dan has given me inspreation and showed that there is so much more to learn. Dan, thanks for this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 06-12-14

What we'll be eating in 2025

Good overview of what is next in the world of sustainable food. Also, a close look at how some very talented folks raise animals/grow food that tastes great, and improves the environment at the same time.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Such a, surprise, really enjoyed this book

This was a terrific book to listen to. As a food grower and a food eater and someone who's trying to live more consciously on this earth I learned a tremendous amount from the author. He goes into such depth and detail traveling all around the world providing history and depth of experience that made this a really enlightening listen. I would put this book at the top of any list of book on food and farming, maybe even the best so far. A terrific story teller with a tremendous depth of knowledge around food and soil and offering many directions for more sustainable eating

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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My New Favorite Book!!

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

I became interested in this book after watching a Ted Talk by Dan Barber talking about Foie Gras. In the talk as in this book he focuses on the interdependence of species with nature and the soil and the great tasting food.

I highly recommend.

What other book might you compare The Third Plate to and why?

The Ominvore's Dilemma

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Food as it should be

Dan Barber's research, expertise, and narration is remarkable. He has created a focus view on how food use to be cultivated. He has used his influence as a master chief and farm owner to encourage a community of nature conscious farmers, ranches, and fisherman to work together for sustainable healthy ecosystems. The content is contagious and I've spent hours discussing the content with family and friends. This is more than a book. It's a lifestyle.

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Everything is Connected

I love information that connects the dots between our food, our environment and sustainable change. Dan Barber doesn’t just pose problems, he gives us hope and answers with wonderful stories and a cast of amazing characters. Real people, good people, doing good work. To compliment this book, watch the excellent Netflix series, “Chef’s Table”, and the Film “Sustainable “.