No, we’re not talking romance novels. As a mission-driven company, we’ve attracted a whole lot of team members who are passionate about animal compassion, our environment and all things related to food — from cooking and serving to local and global food issues. To help you in your gift-giving quest, we gathered some of our favorite mission-related books that we would love to receive or give this holiday: Walter wants to unwrap The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle. Penned by the president of the Humane Society of the United States, the book promises to be a passionate, insightful and comprehensive examination of humankind’s special connection to all creatures. The author explores our newfound understanding of animals’ remarkable emotional and cognitive capacities. After revealing how we’ve broken the bond with our industrialized farming practices, Pacelle points the way to a new, humane economy — one built on the celebration, stewardship and care of animals. Two paws up for that! Rebecca plans to gift several of her friends (and herself) a copy of The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt. “This book is an inspiring story of a humble town (Hardwick, Vermont) and its extraordinary determination to feed its residents by developing a strong local food system.” According to the author, the book explores the contradictions inherent to producing high-end “artisanal” food products in a working class community. To better understand how a local food system might work, he spends time not only with the agripreneurs, but also with the region’s numerous small-scale food producers, many of whom have been quietly operating in the area for decades. Scott follows all things Martha (as do we all) and would love to find a copy of Martha Stewart’s new Martha's Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations under the tree. Scott says, “Martha’s original Entertaining book essentially set the stage for her entire career and what came with it – reshaping the American aesthetic in the home.” Kaci would love to find Michael Pollan’s latest, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, in a recycled, reusable gift bag under her Rowan Tree on Winter Solstice. Pollan has added several new rules and the book is lovingly illustrated by Maira Kalman. Kaci thinks that this new book with its lively drawings will be fun for the whole family. She’s looking forward to exploring the new rules in 2012 (and possibly breaking a few on New Year’s Eve). Derek, a former organic farmer at a Buddhist Monastery, is not attached to winter holidays but would nonetheless appreciate receiving The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion, a.k.a. the last word in restaurant kitchens. Says Derek: “A must-have for the home or pro chef, this incredibly rich resource offers clear explanations, ingredients and proper spelling of many dishes of old and new. Forgot what a Masala was? How about Scotch Egg? The Companion has the answer and knowing is half the battle.” Anna, who celebrates Virgin of Guadalupe Day on December 12, hopes that a spiritually-minded feminist friend will gift her A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food by University of Texas professor Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt. Anna says, “I’m intrigued to read that Englehardt uses the lives of moonshiners, biscuit- and cornbread-makers and tomato club participants to illuminate her revelations on the intersections of food, race, gender, class, religion and power. Food and culture in the South are endlessly fascinating.” Finally, Susan, a single working mother, is hoping that Santa (or the UPS guy) will deliver What the F*@# Should I Make for Dinner?: The Answers to Life's Everyday Question (in 50 F*@#ing Recipes) Susan says, “It’s related to my mission of ending my cycle of despair over the fact that my kids want dinner every single night.” Here’s hoping that either one of the big guys help her out by dropping off the book in the remaining days of 2011. Got some book suggestions of your own? We’d love to read them.