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

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9780393335057: Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Food
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“The first manifesto of the local food movement, and it remains one of the best―eloquent, bracing, and full of vital information.” ―Michael Pollan

In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher and Henry David Thoreau, Gary Paul Nabhan relates how his experience with food permeates his life as an avid gardener and forager, as an ethnobotanist and farmland conservation advocate, and as an activist devoted to recovering place-based heritage foods. Nabhan spent a year trying to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within 220 miles of his home―with surprising results.Already considered a landmark in the locavore movement, Coming Home to Eat “makes us understand how finding and eating local foods connects us deeply and sensually with where we are [and] why the everyday choices we make about food are the most important choices we make” (Alice Waters, chef/owner of Chez Panisse).12 drawings

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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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