Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food

Newman, Lenore

  • An NPR Science Friday Book Club Pick
    Taste Canada Silver Award Winner
    Finalist for the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Award
    Nominated for the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Literature Award
    “Edifying and entertaining.” — Foreword Reviews, starred review

    A rollicking exploration of the history and future of our favorite foods

    When we humans love foods, we love them a lot. In fact, we have often eaten them into extinction, whether it is the megafauna of the Paleolithic world or the passenger pigeon of the last century. In Lost Feast, food expert Lenore Newman sets out to look at the history of the foods we have loved to death and what that means for the culinary paths we choose for the future. Whether it’s chasing down the luscious butter of local Icelandic cattle or looking at the impacts of modern industrialized agriculture on the range of food varieties we can put in our shopping carts, Newman’s bright, intelligent gaze finds insight and humor at every turn.

    Bracketing the chapters that look at the history of our relationship to specific foods, Lenore enlists her ecologist friend and fellow cook, Dan, in a series of “extinction dinners” designed to recreate meals of the past or to illustrate how we might be eating in the future. Part culinary romp, part environmental wake-up call, Lost Feast makes a critical contribution to our understanding of food security today. You will never look at what’s on your plate in quite the same way again.


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  • Lenore Newman is the Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley. She is the author of the acclaimed Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey. She divides her time between Vancouver and Roberts Creek, British Columbia.

  • Published: October 2019

    ISBN: 9781770414358

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 312


“Newman’s jaunts through the animal kingdom alternate with themed meals with her friend Dan as she ponders how historical extinctions are linked to our current food systems, what we can do about it, and how humans must follow the example of the famed New York ‘pizza rat,’ and adapt to the food that comes their way.” — Booklist

“Free-wheeling look at the flora and fauna we’ve eaten into oblivion.” — Toronto Star

“If you’ve ever wondered about the impact the human appetite has had on plans and animals, Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food by Lenore Newman (2019, ECW Press, $24.95) is for you.” — WVNews

Lost Feast is an entertaining read and a reminder of foods (and feasts) lost.” — The Ormsby Review

Lost Feast is a rollicking exploration of the history and future of our favorite foods. Part culinary romp, part environmental wake-up call, the book makes a critical contribution to our understanding of food security today. Readers will never look at what's on their plates in quite the same way again.” — Sir Reads a Lot

“Edifying and entertaining … Never didactic and cautiously optimistic, Newman recognizes that there is hard work ahead to recalibrate the North American diet. She builds a compelling case for us human superpredators to rethink our food choices, and to be healthier for the environment and our fellow inhabitant species. Lost Feast is enjoyable reading about a serious topic.” — Foreword Reviews, starred review

“An interesting and thought-provoking adventure alongside an engaging, wry-humored narrator, the book forces the reader to consider humans’ role in historic plant and animal extinctions, as well as how we might approach food more reasonably moving forward.” — Civil Eats

Lost Feast is buzzy, compelling, and genuinely funny.” — Literary Review of Canada

“Serious without being too heavy, Lost Feast invites us all to appreciate what we eat and contribute to the food security of the future.” — Our Future, Our Story

Lost Feast uniquely draws on Newman’s vast travels, fieldwork, and knowledge. It is also a valuable lesson in how to reach a wider readership and why doing so is important. The book embraces a ‘so what?’ approach that bridges academic knowledge about food to our relationships with it in daily life.” — Gastronomica