Sustainable Agriculture and Food

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Vol. 1 book coverPublisher: Earthscan
  • First published: 2007
  • ISBN: 978-1-88407-408-2

Agriculture and food production are fundamentally important human activities and the very foundations of our modern civilization. For millennia, from the first domesticated grains and animals, to the ‘Green Revolution’ of the 20th century, to persistent poverty and obesity in our age of industrialized farming, the very survival of human civilization continues to hang on the question of how sustainability we produce, process, distribute and consume food.

This 4-volume set, edited by the world’s leading expert on agricultural sustainability, brings together and interprets the most influential, important and time-tested international scholarship across the fields of agriculture and food production with a set overview and individual volume introductions that make sense of this diverse and complex field.

Volume I covers the history of agriculture from its origins through successive revolutions to the present, including ancient perspectives from China, Japan and Europe and technological and institutional innovations from the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Volume II examines the relationship between agriculture and the environment including agricultural contamination, greenhouse gasses and climate change, environmental improvements and sustainability, including integrated farming, eco-agriculture and agro-ecology, as well as landscape restoration and environmental goods and services.

Volume III provides full coverage of the modern industrialized global food system, corporate control and alternatives, poverty, hunger and international successes, failures and challenges, diet and health including the growing obesity pandemic, consumer behaviour and the alternatives to industrialization such as local production and food systems.

Volume IV rounds out the set with a selection of key works addressing how we think about land and our relationship to it, governance and stewardship of the rural commons, systems thinking, ecological literacy, social connections and a sustainable rural life, as well as supportive and perverse agricultural subsidies and policies that shape food poverty and sustain agriculture into the future.


Volume I: History of Agriculture and Food

Introduction · Part I: Before Agriculture · Part II: Early Agriculture · Part III: Agricultural Revolutions · Part IV: Modern Agricultural Reforms ·

Volume II: Agriculture and the Environment

Introduction · Part I: Agricultural Harm to the Environment · Part II: Agroecology and Sustainability · Part III: Communities and Social Capital · Part IV: Ecological Restoration and Design

Volume III: Agriculture and Food Systems

Introduction · Part I: The Global Food System · Part II: Poverty and Hunger · Part III: Diet and Health · Part IV: Localized Food Systems

Volume IV: Polices, Processes and Institutions

Introduction · Part I: Ethics and Systems thinking · Part II: Participatory Processes · Part III: Institutions for Governing the Rural Commons · Part IV: Enabling Policies for Sustainable Food Systems


“Jules Pretty brings together the most comprehensive and carefully selected collection of writings available about sustainable agriculture. Together with an excellent overview chapter, the collected works provide the best available source for an enlightened analysis and debate about sustainability in agriculture. The four volumes will serve both as an excellent reader for students and a unique reference for all with an interest in the pursuit of sustainability in the food system”
Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Cornell University, former Chair of CGIAR Science Council and World Food Prize Laureate, 2001

“This is the single most comprehensive overview of sustainable agriculture, from ancient beginnings to the most topical modern issues. Jules Pretty has assembled a marvellous collection of the most seminal papers that are driving sustainable agriculture in all parts of the world.”
Jeffrey A. McNeely, Chief Scientist, IUCN-The World Conservation Union

“Showing that, after all, humans can learn from experience, Jules Pretty has woven together the best of the old with the best of what is new and visionary. He gives us a solid, knowledge-based foundation for a badly needed new paradigm – that of an agriculture which sustains all life into the longer term. The impressive list of contributors ensures that all relevant areas have been competently assessed… A unique reference work for teachers, students and practitioners.”
Hans R. Herren, World Food Prize Laureate, 1995

“An ambitious and deeply insightful series that unites the great minds not just of the agricultural, nutrition and environmental sciences, but also history, culture, economics, technology, learning and communications, policy, regulatory and institutional approaches. It will be a major reference work for all interested in the future of humanity and sustainable food and agricultural systems.”
Parviz Koohafkan, Director, Environment, Climate Change and Bioenergy Division, FAO, Italy