Carrie Koplinka-Loehr—Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need

Our Changing Menu

Our Changing Menu


Michael P. Hoffmann, Carrie Koplinka-Loehr (NASW member), and Danielle L. Eiseman
Cornell University Press, April 21, 2021, $21.95
ISBN-10: 1501754629, ISBN-13: 978-1501754623

Koplinka-Loehr reports:

Five years ago a former colleague called me to share his hopes for a climate change book that would hit people in the gut. Neither of us had seen a book on how food availability was changing because of drought, hurricanes, warming temperatures, and erratic weather, but we were pretty sure readers would care if their coffee or chocolate disappeared from grocery shelves.

We wanted to dissect a typical American meal from salad to dessert, describing where ingredients were grown and why they might be endangered. My colleague pulled in a former chef who had become an expert on climate change communication, and the three of us began combing through the literature. Once we’d convinced ourselves that we could back up our hunches with science, we wrote a proposal to Cornell University Press and they bit.

Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, photo by Brenna Merritt

Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, photo by Brenna Merritt

Then we began meeting. A lot. Each of us researched specific crops, aiming for the most recent scientific evidence, which kept expanding. I set up an online group Zotero library for our source material that helped us to organize what would become more than 700 citations in the book.

We hoped that short interviews with people who help bring food to our tables would put a face on climate change, so I interviewed farmers, coffee roasters, vintners, ice cream executives and others, interspersing their stories into the barely-completed chapters. I also pushed for a developmental editor who could unite our voices. We received a grant to hire her several years into the project.

Instead of focusing on gloom and doom, we decided to celebrate food and personal ingenuity with both words and artwork. We hired a student to create line drawings of crops, cattle, and climate-change concepts. After she joined us, the ages of our team members spanned five decades. We were tapping into very different skill sets and learning from one another, honing our abilities to give and receive feedback. Writing Our Changing Menu as a team alleviated my feelings of isolation about climate change and helped me to focus on what each of us can do to help.

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September 30, 2021

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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