Summary Island Press says "America has never felt more divided. But in the midst of all the acrimony comes one of the most promising movements in our country’s history. People of all races, faiths, and political persuasions are coming together to restore America's natural wealth: its ability to produce healthy foods.
In Food from the Radical Center, Gary Nabhan tells the stories of diverse communities who are getting their hands dirty and bringing back North America's unique fare: bison, sturgeon, camas lilies, ancient grains, turkeys, and more. These efforts have united people from the left and right, rural and urban, faith-based and science-based, in game-changing collaborations. Their successes are extraordinary by any measure, whether economic, ecological, or social. In fact, the restoration of land and rare species has provided—dollar for dollar—one of the best returns on investment of any conservation initiative."
About the Author Island Press says "Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He has been been honored as a pioneer and creative force in the “local food movement” and seed saving community by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, New York Times, Bioneers, and Time magazine...
Agricultural historian Peter Hatch of Monticello has called Nabhan “the lyrical scholar of genetic diversity.” As an Arab-American essayist and poet, he is author or editor of twenty-four books, some of which have been translated into Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French, Croation, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. For his creative writing and its influence on community-based conservation, he has been honored with a MacArthur “genius” award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Southwest Book Award, the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, the Vavilov Medal, and several honorary degrees and lifetime achievement awards."
This book does an amazing job of fulfilling its objective to describe what it calls "the radical center" and the "ever-broadening social movement to restore... the remaining riches of the living world... [which include] the enduring seeds, the rare breeds, the forgotten fruits, the elusive fish, the still-surviving game, the dulled pollinators, the hidden microbes and worms working in out fertile soils, and the clean water hidden in springs and aquifers beneath our feet."
My favorite part of this book was all of the personal stories and the name-dropping of people/places/organizations! I loved hearing all the details, because then, I could look all of this up and see how these stories being told are real and have created positive change in this world! I found this book inspiring and hopeful, because it provided such strong and concrete proof that we can make a difference with our lives and make the world tangibly better- healthier environments, healthier people, and healthier foods! I loved hearing the stories of people on all sides of the food chain, too, from the growers to farmers to chefs to activists to blue-collar and white-collar workers. And it was beautiful to hear how people from so many backgrounds came together "to [form] a more richly textured world where we may eat all together at a common table."
I also enjoyed the organization of the book. The way the stories were organized flowed well, and I appreciated how the first couple of chapters explained the meaning and momentum behind the social movement of the radical center. The beginning of each chapter starts off asking "have you ______?" to draw you into the stories that are about to be told in that chapter. I did find seeing that same literary device used over and over again a little tedious, but that's all okay. The stories were awesome! At the end of the book, I appreciate how he has a section for all of his conservation couplets (well-written nuggets of insight from the author) and literature cited. However, because of how much I enjoy how personal the book feels with all the name-dropping of people/places/projects, I felt the book would be more complete if it included a section at the end of the book listing all the people/places/projects (along with their websites). I was a bit disappointed to not find a thorough listing of all these amazing people/places/projects at the end of the book; however, I am kind of aware of how much work I would be asking for to have this done, so, it's not that big of a deal. I just would have liked to have that kind of list for myself. Also, I kinda want to visit and see all of these projects and taste all of the food mentioned.
And this book is well-researched and credit is given to everyone and everything! I appreciate the time that went into writing this book and the time that it took to include the additional research and literature that was included, beyond all the personal stories from many people.
Overall, this was an epic book! There is more that I wanted from the book, but that's okay. I think what I really wanted from this book was an eBook with embedded hyperlinks in it to all the people/places/projects mentioned in the book to satisfy my desire for more information on such awesome and inspirational works!