Books I am currently reading or I have read:
Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable and Secure Food Systems, by Philip Ackerman-Leist
The book sat on my nightstand for 2 months before I opened it, but once I did, I began to read and reread sections, reflecting on his words. He addresses the local foodshed as a true sustainable model, considering waste, fuel, processing and the environments it takes to grow food.
We all know “local” (food) is the buzzword and we are slowly going beyond the trend and coming to understand and embrace the idea of knowing our farmers and wanting to support them. Local food is the future. If we want our neighborhoods and our bodies to be healthy, it truly is the only way. Philip not only explains this, but considers the variables all while considering agricultural reform. We are moving beyond the buzzwords of local and sustainable and into a new way of living and eating. Chapter after chapter gives hope to replace the destructiveness of industrial agriculture. He asks tough questions: How do you grow what you need with minimal environmental impact? He leaves us with choices we can make that increase the sustainability and resilience of our food systems.
I am ever optimistic when I read the models for growing, processing, and distributing sustainably grown food. I am witness to large ornate lawns here on Martha’s Vineyard being converted (slowly!) to gardens with food. Restaurant chefs are creating gardens that hold more than ornamental herbs and edible flowers, and best of all, I see whole groups of people coming together to create a better community.
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenber
This book speaks to my soul. Molly Wizenberg recounts her life with the kitchen at its center with summer picnics during her childhood and the caring for her father on his death bed with eggs. It is a memoir of recipes It will leave you satified with
You can follow her blog: Orangette, filled with stories and great recipes adapted form a few of my favorite cookbooks. She is my type of writer and cook.
Home Made, by Yvette VanBoven
I love this cook book – I love the layout. I love the recipes. If I was to write a cookbook, it would be this. Thank goodness it is done! Although I would subsitute the cream in most of the soup recipes, the sweet potato soup with buttered cashews is perfect at this time of year. Here is my version: Spicy Sweet Potato Lentil Soup with Crispy Leeks
Few books offer insight into why supporting local farmers and fisherman is vital to our existence. Many write of seasonal foods with the emphasis on them being of the highest quality – foods picked in season at their peak of ripeness. Few write of the history about where we have been, what lessons have been learned along the way, and at the same time force us to realize our contributions to failed systems when we simply purchase our food.
Here on Martha’s Vineyard we are blessed with historic and teaching farms, road side stands, and one of the most beautiful fishing villages in New England. With such abundance in surroundings it is hard to imagine that our purchases make a difference to the world. It is difficult to understand or see that our own community is directly affected by the global issues. Tomatoland and Four Fish are two books I’ve recently read that bring awareness to a level of appreciation and understanding that these issues deserve.
If you treasure the taste of tomatoes off the vine in August (with perfect balance of acidic, sugar, salt, and perfect texture) and wondered why you can only experience this taste one season of the year, this is a book for you. Estabrook takes us on a culinary history of the tomato, from the deserts of Peru, to current slave practices of the migrant workers, to the real costs associated with cheap tomatoes, and finally to building a better tasting tomato for taste. We learn of the commercial growers in Florida, who apply over 100 different chemical fertilizers and pesticides to their tomatoes and the hydroponic practices of Canadian growers. We will recognize these tomatoes in our local grocery shelves and it will force us to reconsider purchases. Fifty years ago, tomatoes lost much of their flavor and nutrients when breeders put their energies toward the growers who wanted high yields, good uniform size and perfect appearance, but they left out taste!
This book gets to the heart of matter and addresses what we witness in our local tomato growers who work to make their soils healthy, pick when the tomatoes are ripe, and save their seeds for the next season. This book left me wondering how our local farmers could make a living charging a mere $5 per pound when so much goes into the growth of one perfect plate of tomatoes.
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan
The Breath of the Wok by Grace Young
Is it Organic? by Mischa Popoff
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg