Sunday, June 01, 2008

3 non-fiction books about sustainable eating

I don't typically read a lot of non-fiction. When I do read it, it's generally related to research for an ongoing novel. But in the past few months, I've read 3 books on roughly the same theme: Local eating/sustainable agriculture. This is something I've been interested in for some time. 2 years ago, when we became shareholders in our local CSA (community support agriculture) farm, I started to understand how eating local is an all-around win.

It's a win for my family's health as the farm uses sustainable farming practices and grows a wide variety of wonderful produce. There is little to compare to eating produce that was picked within hours of when it lands on your table. Because we made a commitment to the weekly share, it meant planning meals and eating what was harvested that week. Let me tell you--food grown locally, and grown in its proper season tastes better than anemic tomatoes and greens shipped from thousands of miles away.

It's a win for preservation of open space. The last working farm in our area was preserved as a farm and not as new condos.

It's a win in terms of developing community as the shareholders of the farm connect over pot-lucks and volunteer hours at the farm.

The 3 books I've read this year, all make the argument for eating locally and eating in season.

Michael Pollan's 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' traces the history of 4 meals down through the food chain. What Pollan reveals about corn and its derivative products (especially high fructose corn syrup) will have you cleaning out your pantries.

Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' tells the story of her family's process of spending a year eating locally, both from food they grew on their own land, and food they bought from local farmers. She is a glorious writer (her novel, "Prodigal Summer" is one of my all-time favorites for the sheer beauty of her writing).

Doug Fine's "Farewell my Subaru" is not nearly as well written as either of the other books, but is a funny romp through one man's quest to live sustainably. From his car-retrofit to kitchen waste oil to adventures in keeping goats from the roses, Fine relates his traumas and successes with good humor.

All of these are well worth the time to read.

Happy reading and happy eating.


  1. As a Subaru owner, I should read that book! And the Barbara
    Kingsolver book sounds good, too.

    We started a vegetable garden this spring. We're looking forward to home-grown veggies. And, it's a family project so I'm hoping the kids will enjoy watching things grow over the summer.

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