Balancing on a Planet (Hardcover)

The Future of Food and Agriculture (California Studies in Food and Culture #46)

By David A. Cleveland

University of California Press, 9780520277410, 352pp.

Publication Date: December 20, 2013

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (12/20/2013)

List Price: 70.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


This book is an interdisciplinary primer on critical thinking and effective action for the future of our global agrifood system, based on an understanding of the system’s biological and sociocultural roots. Key components of the book are a thorough analysis of the assumptions underlying different perspectives on problems related to food and agriculture around the world and a discussion of alternative solutions. David Cleveland argues that combining selected aspects of small-scale traditional agriculture with modern scientific agriculture can help balance our biological need for food with its environmental impact—and continue to fulfill cultural, social, and psychological needs related to food.

Balancing on a Planet is based on Cleveland’s research and engaging teaching about food and agriculture for more than three decades. It is a tool to help students, faculty, researchers, and interested readers understand debates about the current crisis and alternatives for the future.


About the Author

David A. Cleveland is Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a human ecologist whose research and teaching are on small-scale, sustainable agriculture. He has worked with farmers around the world, including in Ghana, Mexico, Zuni, Hopi, Pakistan, and the United States. He is currently researching the potential benefits of agrifood system localization on climate change, nutrition, and food sovereignty.

Praise For Balancing on a Planet: The Future of Food and Agriculture (California Studies in Food and Culture #46)

"Cleveland’s new book is essential reading for all who are interested in change, since understanding how we got into this mess is important for identifying ways to get out of it."

— Charles R. Clement

"A welcome addition to the literature on agriculture and food systems and will give to all readers a chance to critically consider the importance of continuously asking questions, examining our empirical and value assumptions, and choosing robust indicators that can accurately reflect our goals for the agrifood system."

— Agriculture and Human Values