Publications - Books

Hamburgers in Paradise
The stories behind the food we eat

Louise O. Fresco


Princeton University Press

For the first time in human history, there is food in abundance throughout the world. More people than ever before are now freed of the struggle for daily survival, yet few of us are aware of how food lands on our plates. Behind every meal you eat, there is a story. Hamburgers in Paradise explains how.


Book Trailer from Princeton University Press


In this wise and passionate book, Louise Fresco takes readers on an enticing cultural journey to show how science has enabled us to overcome past scarcities—and why we have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Using hamburgers in the Garden of Eden as a metaphor for the confusion surrounding food today, she looks at everything from the dominance of supermarkets and the decrease of biodiversity to organic foods and GMOs. She casts doubt on many popular claims about sustainability, and takes issue with naïve rejections of globalization and the idealization of “true and honest” food. Fresco explores topics such as agriculture in human history, poverty and development, and surplus and obesity. She provides insightful discussions of basic foods such as bread, fish, and meat, and intertwines them with social topics like slow food and other gastronomy movements, the fear of technology and risk, food and climate change, the agricultural landscape, urban food systems, and food in art.

The culmination of decades of research, Hamburgers in Paradise provides valuable insights into how our food is produced, how it is consumed, and how we can use the lessons of the past to design food systems to feed all humankind in the future.

Louise O. Fresco is president of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. The author of several books, she is a member of the Council of Advisors for the World Food Prize and has worked extensively in developing countries for many years. She lives in Amsterdam.


"An extraordinary, engaging, and culturally informed volume. Read it and be freed from the shackles of many mistaken ideas that obscure genuine solutions to the puzzle of feeding a growing world population in a sustainable and just fashion. Fresco invites us to leave our preconceived ideas at the threshold and become better stewards of mankind’s future."--Harold T. Shapiro, Princeton University

"An insightful and incisive book that examines the facts and mythologies of food production, ancient and modern. Fresco moves seamlessly from early concepts of paradise to contemporary issues such as factory farming, GMOs, and organic agriculture. She concludes with a balanced and optimistic view of the future of sustainable farming."--Gordon Conway, Imperial College London

"In a mesmerizing tour de force by an author who has clearly established herself as the Renaissance Woman of Global Agriculture, Louise Fresco tracks the ten-thousand-year evolution of human agriculture in search of the paradise of abundance. Throughout this book, she weaves the extraordinary cultural intersection of art, poetry, and religion with science and technology, and confronts the dichotomy of a ‘hamburgerized’ twenty-first-century world of overabundance and painful scarcity."--Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation

"This erudite and wide-ranging book is the result of Fresco’s four decades of work and reflection on how our food is produced and consumed. In contemporary literature about the future of the food chain, I have not come across a more convincing, irresistibly organized, and thorough overview of what we all need to digest. This book is a must-read."--Victor Halberstadt, Leiden University


Princeton University Press
Hardcover | November 2015 | ISBN: 9780691163871 | 560 pp. | 6 x 9 | 25 color illus.
eBook | ISBN: 9781400873319
Table of Contents (pdf)


Recommended by Forbes as optimistic summer reading
"..... a history of the many foods we eat, the state of global agriculture and a very optimistic view of sustainability in spite of the challenges facing humanity in the near future"., 29 Mayi 2016