Coming Home to Eat

I am just returning from a trip to Savannah, where I continued to flirt with biodiesel and the global marketplace.

It’s funny. I don’t do business trips like I used. These days they are rare. And given the choice between a view of the riverfront and some she-crab soup, I will take my kitchen table and the woodstove any day.

Earlier this month I finished Gary Paul Nabhan’s Coming Home to Eat; The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods.

This was a slow starter for me. I didn’t really care about the desert (where it is set), or about indigenous people, or languages-I began reading with my guard up. It had also been given to me by my mother-which can send alarm bells.

She is so widely read, and so passionate about the ideas she finds in books, that I have to be careful. Her intellectual swath is greater than mine.

But Nabhan’s use of language is so luxurious, and his way of engaging the reader in the commonplace is so alluring, that I fell prey to another foodshed book.

One moment he is purging his larder of all processed foods, resenting the way the popular culture has appropriated his favorite southwestern flavors, and the next he is suffering over how to prepare one of his hand raised turkeys.

As I enter the second year of my “Hundred Mile Diet (with cheating),” I found Habhan’s story both powerful and well told.

An intriguing aspect to this book, is that ignorant readers like myself do not realize Habnan’s expertise. He’s dedicated a lifetime to the study and research of seeds and varieties of local foods. He effortlessly spins off geographical tales of past civilizations and their eating habits.

He’s like a Jared Diamond you would not be afraid to invite to dinner.

And as he reveals his expertise, his story increases with poignancy. The broth genuinely thickened for me when he touched on the policy layer. He has a moment on a airplane, flying home from D.C., wondering why on earth he bothers pushing his foodshed boulder up the hill at all.

And everyone who has ever worked on public policy will know the feeling he recounts.

Coming Home to Eat
is a fantastic book. It steeled my resolve about sticking to locally produced food, validated many of the things we are attempting to achieve on our project, and absolutely hit the spot.

It will be on the bookshelf tomorrow. Help yourself.

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