Today would have been Upton Sinclair’s 134th birthday, and if he were still alive, you’d owe him a present. Or, at the very least, a firm handshake. Sinclair’s 1906 muckracking novel, The Jungle, changed the way Americans eat. Sinclair investigated the unsavory practices of Chicago's meatpacking industry and turned it into a novel with truths so grotesque that America could barely stomach them. His unsettling look into where our food comes from, including the unjust treatment of factory workers, stirred American sentiments into a near frenzy, resulting in unprecedented food legislation and the creation of the FDA.

Sinclair isn’t the first to turn his words into food for thought. Food writing doesn’t have to be piles of recipes and frivolous prose. Here’s proof that food writing can change how we think about eating, and even dictate what we put in our mouths: 10 Books That Changed the Way We Eat.

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