At EPIC we LOVE rabble-rousing books that are well written, thought provoking, supported by research, and have the ability to change conventional narratives by challenging societal norms. Since the inception of our company, Katie and I have a small but powerful collection of favorite reads that have enriched both our lives as well as our business. This holistic list of provocative books encompasses a wide range of topics that span from environmentalism, agriculture, diet, and history. With an eclectic foundation, these influential reads have inspired many of our business decisions at EPIC as well as our personal food philosophies. We hold this list of books near to our hearts and have begun to include them into new employee onboarding. As a result, one of the first things Katie and I will cover with new employees is our “recommended/mandatory” list of books. Upon receiving copies of our company Trail Map, values, and founding story, new employees will also receive books to educate themselves and accelerate their immersion into the EPIC brand and food philosophy! Most recently our VP of Sales (Jocy Upton) has officially started an EPIC Book Club that meets every 60 days and dives deep into featured reads in a fun and conversational style. Seeing this organically happen has brought joy to my heart and empowered our team to confidently lead in thought-provoking conversations on food, nutrition, and regenerative agriculture. I want to share this cherished list of “must reads” with our loyal consumers and provide you the tools to expand your own understanding of the world as well as challenge many of our conventional beliefs that we often accept as “truth”. This list will make you a total bad ass…
1. The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz
For the past 60 years we have been told that a low-fat diet can protect against obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Yet despite many of us taking this advice in the developed West, we are now in the midst of an obesity epidemic that is breeding serious health problems. Recent more rigorous scientific work has overturned some of the shoddier theories of earlier decades to demonstrate conclusively that we have been needlessly avoiding red meat, cheese, whole milk, and eggs for decades, and that we can now, guilt-free, welcome these delicious foods back into our lives. This book is dense with critical deconstruction of infamous and public policy shaping research that has effected each and every one of us. Everyone that reads this book first becomes enraged at the poor science and special interest groups that have influenced our perspective on food ends the book feeling energized and optimized on how to dominate your own health and wellness through eating whole foods that you crave.
2. Defending Beef by Nicolette Niman
This is my #1 read on the list! For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one. But is the matter really so clear cut? Hell no. In Defending Beef, vegetarian cattle rancher (yes, this book is written by a vegetarian!) Nicolette Niman dispels the long held believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations. Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock plays an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Niman believes that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false. She shows how foods from cattle—milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass—are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system. Grounded in empirical scientific data and with living examples from around the world, Defending Beef builds a comprehensive argument that cattle can help to build carbon-sequestering soils to mitigate climate change, enhance biodiversity, help prevent desertification, and provide invaluable nutrition. While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Defending Beef makes the case that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and other ruminates must be part of the solution.
3. Cows Save the Planet by Judith Schwartz
Cows saving the planet?!? Why not? I LOVE how provocative this book title is! Openly making this statements while demoing EPIC bars at a Whole Foods is guaranteed to start an argument with a pony tailed vegetarian. Its an idea that sounds preposterous, but begins to make sense when you take a “soil’s-eye” view of our current ecological predicament. In Cows Save the Planet, journalist Judith Schwartz looks at soil as a crucible for our many overlapping environmental, economic, and social crises. Drawing on the work of thinkers and doers, renegade scientists, and institutional whistleblowers, Schwartz reveals that for many of these problems- climate change, desertification, biodiversity loss, droughts, floods, malnutrition, and obesity- there are positive, alternative scenarios. In each case, our ability to turn these crises into opportunities depends on how we treat the soil! Where do cows fit in? Well if you have read any of my blogs on regenerative agriculture you know that cattle, like all ruminate grazers can, if soundly managed, restore land and help build soil.
4. Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
World-renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that's been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. Even "healthy" carbs like whole grains can increase risk for dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and more. In this innovative and persuasive book, Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age, take control of your "smart genes," and remedy your most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary four-week plan, GRAIN BRAIN helps you reprogram your genetic destiny for a vibrant future. After reading this book I dramatically shifted my carb intake and not only crushed my marathon personal record, but optimized my own cognitive focus and productivity.
Optimize your own life and checkout a few of these game changing reads. The information contained within the pages is cutting edge and will give you an edge in being a life champion. If you have other books that have significantly influenced your life, please recommend them in the comments section below.