Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods

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9780393323740: Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods

"Amazing and eloquent....Nabhan makes us understand how finding and eating local foods connects us deeply and sensually."―Alice Waters, Chez Panisse

Issuing a "profound and engaging...passionate call to us to re-think our food industry" (Jim Harrison, author of The Raw and the Cooked), Gary Paul Nabhan reminds us that eating close to home is not just a matter of convenience―it is an act of deep cultural and environmental significance. Embodying "a perspective...at once ecological, economic, humanistic, and spiritual" (Los Angeles Times), Nabhan has dedicated his life to raising awareness about food―as an avid gardener, as an ethnobotanist preserving seed diversity, and as an activist devoted to recovering native food traditions in the Southwest. This "inspired and eloquently detailed account" (Rick Bayless, Chefs Collaborative) tells of his year-long mission to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within two hundred miles of his home. "A good book for gardeners to read this winter" (The New York Times), Nabhan's work "weav[es] together the traditions of Thoreau and M. F. K. Fisher [in] a soul food treatise for our time" (Peter Hoffman, Chefs Collaborative).

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Review:

Does it matter where our food comes from? Do we, our communities, and the planet do better if we choose food grown by local sources we trust? Exploring these and other questions of dietary and spiritual subsistence, Gary Paul Nabhan's Coming Home to Eat presents a compelling case for eating from our "foodshed."

Nabhan, a subsistence hunter, ethnobiologist, and activist devoted to recovering lost food traditions, gave himself a task: to spend a year trying to eat foods grown, fished, or gathered within 250 miles of his Arizona home. His book, both personal document and political screed, details this experiment from the moment Nabhan purges his kitchen of canned and other processed foods ("If this year could resolve anything for me, perhaps it would rid me of the desire to ever again buy any packaged food that boasted of its homemade flavor....") to a final food-gathering pilgrimage. That journey underscores Nabhan's conviction that we have too easily believed "the vacuous nutritional promises of the industrialized food that has sold our health down the river." In fact, the book encompasses an ongoing pilgrimage, during which Nabhan explores, for example, the near loss of saguaro cactus fruit as a dietary staple due to saguaro's use for "local color" in shopping malls, golf courses, and retirement centers. Readers, converted, skeptical, or just curious, will find Nabhan's book a source of many simple and stirring truths. "Until we stop craving to be somewhere else and someone else other than the animals whose very cells are constituted from the place on earth we love the most," he writes, "then there is little reason to care about the fate of native foods, family farms, or healthy landscapes and communities." But care we must, as the book shows so enlighteningly. --Arthur Boehm

About the Author:

Gary Paul Nabhan, a prize-winning essayist and agricultural ecologist, serves as a Distinguished Research Scientist with the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

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