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  • Published: 31 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760899332
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $34.99

Why you should give a f*ck about farming

Because you eat

'I ask that if you were to read one nonfiction book this year, please make it this one.'
Readings Monthly
There is no farmers and others. If you eat or wear clothes, the decisions you make influence farming.

There is no farmers and others. If you eat or wear clothes, the decisions you make influence farming.

‘Eaters will be the ultimate arbiter of where and how food is grown and how the land is cared for … We all have a stake in the future of food and farming. I am going to show you why.’

Farming sits at the intersection of the world’s biggest challenges around climate change, soil, water, energy, natural disasters and zoonotic diseases. Yet Australia has no national food policy. No national agriculture strategy. Our water policy is close to the Hunger Games. People with means can shop at farmers’ markets and order brunch, by the provenance of their eggs, bacon, butter, tomatoes and greens. But do they really understand the trade-offs required to grow it?

In this book Gabrielle Chan examines the past, present and future of farming with her characteristically forensic eye. She lays out how our nation, its leaders, farmers and eaters can usher in new ways for us to work and live on our unique and precious land. We must forge a new social contract if we are to grow healthy food on a thriving landscape, while mitigating climate and biodiversity loss.

This important book will change your thinking about food, farming and how you eat.

  • Published: 31 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760899332
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

Gabrielle Chan

Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She has been a political journalist and politics live blogger at Guardian Australia since 2013. Prior to that she worked at The Australian, ABC radio, The Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. Gabrielle has written and edited history books, biographies and even a recipe book.

The daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved from the Canberra press gallery to marry a sheep and wheat farmer in 1996 - the year Pauline Hanson was first elected to federal parliament. She noticed the economic and cultural divide between the city and the country, the differences in political culture and yawning gap between the parliament and small town life.

So in September 2017, she swapped interviews with politicians with interviews with ordinary people on her main street to discover why they think politics has moved so far from their lives. The result is Rusted Off: Why country Australia is fed up. In the process, Gabrielle draws conclusions about the current state of our rural political representation, the gap between city and country and how to bridge it.

Also by Gabrielle Chan

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Praise for Why you should give a f*ck about farming

I ask that if you were to read one nonfiction book this year, please make it this one. Farming in Australia is connected with many other issues at our crossroads, but it is highly likely that few Australians think about it on a regular basis, despite the fact we all eat, and have come to expect food that is cheap, readily available and of high quality. From water and soil, to the food on our tables, this is the vital story behind our supermarket shelves.

Margaret Snowdon, Readings Monthly

Forget about the disconnect between the farmer and the eater - the decisions each make today directly affects the other tomorrow. In that context, if you want to eat this evening, if you want your children to eat tomorrow, if you want your grandchildren to eat next week, you must read this book.

Stephen Burns, The Land

In a book that is intellectually thrilling, personally engaging, and profoundly important, Gabrielle Chan shows us why farms, and farmers, are central to our land, our communities, and our national prosperity, as well as sense of self.

Matthew Evans

This book comprises the forensic, brave and yet holistic examination that Australian agriculture and its so-called governance has long needed. While investigating the social, economic, political and environmental influences on farming in Australia and its relevance to the national interest, Chan poses some fundamental questions. These include how and why we farm and live like we do? And what then are the consequent impacts on human health, communities, landscapes and society as a whole. Chan therefore challenges our fundamental assumptions - not just on farming but also of our approach to eating, living, business philosophy and thus politics. Insightful, incisive, courageous and thus challenging, Chan writes in an engaging, authoritative yet perky style - underpinned by her wide research. The result is powerful communication and thus everything a potential game-changing book should be. In the end, Chan exposes the myopia of our Government's policy and executive leadership, and also the illogic of leaving matters in the hands of the 'free market' and its destructive effects socially and environmentally. Honest and confronting, this long overdue book sits in the same class as Donald Horne's The Lucky Country. One can only hope it likewise successfully challenges our unexamined assumptions on how we farm, eat, live and do business in this country. Otherwise, Horne's haunting question will continue to hang over us: 'Are we still sleep-walking into the future?'

Charles Massy, author of Call of the Reed Warbler

By raising the subject of farming from the mire of cant, ignorance and parti pris into realms of reason and evidence, Gabrielle Chan also raises big and urgent questions about the nation's (not to say the world's) future. A disturbing, lucid, often inspiring, above all essential book. Citizens of all dietary preferences and all political and occupational stripes should promise not to engage in serious conversation about Australia until they have read it.

Don Watson

This is a story that only Gabrielle Chan could tell: the story of how we can live sustainably and how we create the incentives to produce food that nourishes and connects us. In her unique voice, and with the natural authority that comes from living her subject, Chan asks the existential questions of our time - the questions that Australia’s political system is too feckless to ask.

Katharine Murphy

One of the most important books of the year.

Virginia Trioli, ABC Radio Melbourne

A brilliant companion piece to Rusted Off published in 2018. The answer to the title is simple, ’Because You Eat’ or Because You Wear Clothing Most of us have little idea of the connection between farming and our everyday lifes. To the city child who thinks milk comes in a carton to the urbanised country dweller who worries about a half strength soy latte or whether plant based meat is meat (hint-NO) this book will give an excellent background to challenges facing farmers today and in the future. Gabrielle's book covers everything from history , risk, farming culture, families , water , natural balance and more in a readable but well researched style that will make you contemplate where we are going as a country that sees itself as a food bowl for the world. Gabrielle summarises the now , however also lays out a path forward for our farmers, our nation and importantly our politicians or leaders. A compelling read that will change your view on farming and eating.

Edgars Books and News

This attention-grabbing title captures a mindset prevalent among city-dwellers. Basically, that farming has nothing to do with them. It’s a mentality journalist Gabrielle Chan used to share until she fell for a farmer. In the decades since, she has come to realise that as eaters, food security affects all of us – and not just for what it puts on our plates. Food production is inseparable from the big issues of our time: climate change, water supply, soil degradation, natural disasters, population displacement and trade wars. It’s vast territory to cover in one book, but Chan creates a propulsive narrative by focusing on the overarching need to grow and supply food while sustainably managing the land on which we depend. Her earthy prose brings home the urgency of having a national master plan to ensure food security and of giving our politicians a boot up the bum to make this happen.

Fiona Capp, The Sydney Morning Herald, Non-Fiction Pick of the Week

This book is one of the most important published this year. With her forensic journalist's eye, and lived experience of what it's like to make a living from farming. Gabrielle Chan points out that Australia has no national food or agricultural policy despite 50 per cent of the land being farmed. Do you know where your food comes from and how it gets to you? Who gets paid for what and are our food supplies secure? Chan looks at all this and more.

Penny Woodward, Organic Gardener

Awards & recognition

ACT Notable Book Awards

Shortlisted  •  2021  •  ACT Notable Book Awards

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