FarmPlate Book Review | "The Town That Food Saved"
Lucy Caldwell Aug 06, 2012 Good Reads 0 comments
For a chance to win a copy of The Town that Food Saved, just log on to FarmPlate and review your favorite food businesses. We'll enter your name in our drawing once for every review you write. More reviews equals more chances to win!
The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food... This is a mouthful of a title, one that puts forth quite a few interesting ideas. The Town the Food Saved conjures up images of a supercarrot defending a small rural town from a giant can of pesticide. The imagination can run wild with that phrase. “How one community found vitality in local food” is equally intriguing on a more intellectual level. How did they do it? What is this town? If nothing else, the title of Ben Hewitt’s book definitely engages our curiosity.
Mr. Hewitt was first introduced to Hardwick, Vermont in 2008, when the small town in northern Vermont was the subject of a New York Times article with an equally lofty title as his own: “Uniting Around Food to Save An Ailing Town.” The rural town was suddenly thrust into the spotlight, becoming almost overnight a nationwide inspiration for locavores, and the poster-child for the local food movement. Indeed, Hardwick was named one of the most important food towns in America by Gourmet Magazine. Only a few years before, Hardwick had been completely under the radar -- known only for being part of one of the most depressed regions of the state.
In his book, The Town That Food Saved, Hewitt delves into his study of Hardwick’s sprouting food system with enthusiastic curiosity, digging past its glowing reputation to understand the complexities that have come with its recent agricultural stardom. He might not have started his investigation of Hardwick with a critical eye but, as his research progresses, he uncovers a wide variety of opinions regarding Hardwick’s newly blossomed food system. Hewitt soon discovers this: “Feeling that something is right and identifying why it is right are two different things.”
His time spent talking with the people of Hardwick reveals that the town’s fame is definitely warranted, but maybe not for the most publicized reasons. While Hardwick is lauded as a perfect example of how local food can revitalize a community, any transition--and certainly one as rapid as Hardwick’s--brings to light certain local tensions and forces people to ask moral questions concerning not only where their food is produced, but who ends up eating it, and who grows it.
The Town That Food Saved is a great read. Hewitt’s narrative remains light and funny, telling a story even as he gets into sensitive moral issues and exposes a more complicated side of the story of a town that has been getting nothing but praise. It is a reminder that instigating a local food system is not as simple as gathering a couple of farmers for a farmers’ market once a week and opening a new food co-op in town. While these steps will most definitely move your community in the right direction, the local food system is far more complicated on practical and moral levels.
The book makes its reader think critically about the media’s presentation of local food, while at the same time recounting a story that, while multi-faceted, inspires us to become more involved in our own local food economy!
Pick up your copy of The Town that Food Saved today! Be sure to try winning our raffle first though because we're giving away a copy of the book. To enter, just log on to FarmPlate and review your favorite farms, food artisans, restaurants and other food businesses. For every review you write, we will enter your name into our drawing. The more businesses you review, the better your chances of winning!