Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: The Town that Food Saved

The Town that Food Saved: How One Town Found Vitality in Local Food
By Ben Hewitt, published 2009

This book is about the people in and around Hardwick, Vermont that are involved with their local food system. Hardwick, a former granite mining town, is located near Buffalo Mountain and has 3,200 residents. Several chapters each feature a story about the people behind a specific food system business. The businesses include a seed company, farmers, professional farm animal slaughterers, a restaurant featuring local food, and a composting company. All of these businesses together could make a closed loop self-sustaining food system.

The author has a folksy style that fits with the rural setting of the book. After reading each chapter I felt like I made a new friend.

Most of these businesses must rely on sending their food products outside of the area in order to have enough customers. And, with a median income of under $15,000.00 and high unemployment, the local residents cannot often afford eating at the local food restaurant or purchase expensive gourmet cheeses.

I had hoped that by the end of the book the town would have evolved into a foodshed utopia of self-sustaining production that could be replicated everywhere – especially here! I love to see organizations working in concert with each other. As the book progresses the people of Hardwick begin to deepen their connection to each other and their food system. Not utopia yet, but progress.

I picked up the book at my new favorite book store: Literary Life on Wealthy at Eastern – a quick walk from my home in the heart of Grand Rapids.

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