Books

Slow Food Seattle Books

SAVE THE DATE! OCTOBER 17, 2013 IS OUR NEXT BOOK CLUB MEETING.

We will be reading Good Food Revolution by Will Allen. More details regarding the time and venue will be available soon!


PAST BOOK CLUB SELECTIONS

September 2012 RSVP on Facebook too!

Our September book club selection is Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 13th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

TomatolandSupermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award–winning article, “The Price of Tomatoes,” investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but produces fruits with a fraction of the calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, and fourteen times as much sodium as the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?

Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation’s top restaurants.

Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a Who’s Who cast of characters in the tomato industry: The avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the United States attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents’ medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years.

Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit and an exposé of today’s agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.

“With great skill and compassion, Estabrook explores the science, ingenuity and human misery behind the modern American tomato.  Once again, the true cost is too high to pay.” – Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

“In my ten years as editor of Gourmet Magazine, the article I am proudest to have published was Barry Estabrook’s “The Price of Tomatoes.”  Now he’s expanded that into this astonishingly moving and important book.  If you have ever eaten a tomato – or ever plan to – you must read Tomatoland.  It will change the way you think about America’s most popular ‘vegetable.’  More importantly, it will give you new insight into the way America farms.” – Ruth Reichl, author of Garlic and Saphires

“If you worry, as I do, about the sad and sorry state of the tomato today and want to know what a tomato used to be like and what it could hopefully become again, read Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland. A fascinating history of the peregrination of the tomato throughout the centuries.”  –Jacques Pepin, author of Essential Pepin

“Yikes. Industrial beef and industrial chicken we know about. But it turns out the tomato is just as gross. Read it before your next B.L.T. –Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

In fast-moving, tautly narrated scenes, Barry Estabrook tells the startling story of labor conditions that should not exist in this country or this century, and makes sure you won’t look at a supermarket or fast-food tomato the same way again. But he also gives hope for a better future–and a better tomato. Anyone who cares about social justice should read Tomatoland. Also anyone who cares about finding a good tomato you can feel good about eating. – Corby Kummer, senior editor The Atlantic and author of The Pleasures of Slow Food

Please join us!

About Barry Estabrook
Barry EstabrookTomatoland,” Barry’s book about how industrial agriculture has ruined the tomato in all ways–gastronomic, environmental, and in terms of labor abuse–was published in the summer of 2011 by Andrews McMeel. Stints working on a dairy farm and a commercial fishing boat as a young man convinced Barry Estabrook that writing about how food was produced was a hell of a lot easier than actually producing it. He lives on a 30-acre tract in Vermont where he gardens, tends a dozen laying hens, taps maple trees, and (in an effort to reduce his alcohol footprint) brews hard cider from his own apples that no one except him likes. He was formerly a contributing editor at the late lamented Gourmet magazine. He now serves on the advisory board of Gastronomica, The Journal of Food and Culture, and writes for the the New York Times, the Washington Post, TheAtlantic.com, MarkBittman.com, Saveur, Men’s Health, and pretty much anyone else who will take his stuff. His article for Gourmet on labor abuses in Florida’s Tomato fields received the 2010 James Beard Award for magazine feature writing. Read it here.

July 2012 RSVP on Facebook too!

Our July book club selection is the collected works of M.F.K. Fisher.

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 12th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

Join us as we celebrate the works of M.F.K. Fisher, the American writer who elegantly redefined the way we look at the the production, preparation, and enjoyment of food.

Fisher believed that eating well was one of the “arts of life,” and in classic works including “How to Cook a Wolf,” “Consider the Oyster,” “The Art of Eating,” and “The Gastronomical Me,” she mixed personal recollections of her awakening passion for food in locations including Dijon, California, Switzerland, and Provence with advice and practical information for the mid-century home cook that still resonates today, recounted in eloquent, delightful prose that makes each book hard to put down.

We invite you to choose one or more of Fisher’s works and join us for a fun, free-ranging discussion on her themes of eating, drinking, and “celebrating the senses.” All are welcome – please come even if you have not had a chance to finish the books! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 12th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East, at the corner of Roy. Limited free parking is available in the lot underneath the building.

May 2012 RSVP on Facebook too!

Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans EatOur May book club selection is Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat by Jeff Benedict.

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 10th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

Interested in food safety? Curious about how the common, yet sometimes deadly E. coli bacteria shows up not only in ground meat, but also strawberries, spinach and sprouts?

Join the Slow Food Seattle Book Club for a discussion of Jeff Benedict’s Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat. Benedict tells the story of the 1993 E. coli break-out in Jack in the  Box hamburger meat through main characters nine-year old Brianne, who came close to dying and still lives with the impact of the episode, and Bainbridge Island-based lawyer, Bill Marler, who took on her case as a young lawyer.

“Over a period of a few weeks, more than 700 cases scattered across four Western states; four children died gruesomely, with bleeding intestines and kidney failure. But Mr. Benedict, a lawyer turned journalist, pays relatively little attention to the story’s medical complexities; his focus is the gruesome and complicated legal tangle that ensued. Nowadays we are all too familiar with the practices of giant processing plants, but back in those innocent times it was all new and appalling — the poorly regulated slaughterhouses, the batching of meat for grinding, the wide distribution of product, which maximized the spread of any contaminant.” — Abigail Zuger, M.D., New York Times, June 27, 2011

Jeff Benedict and Bill Marler

Author, Jeff Benedict (left) and attorney, Bill Marler (right). Photo: WSU Photo Services

Poisoned is as relevant today as it is to the 1993 story it tells. Just months after the book’s 2011 publication, another E. coli outbreak, this time in Germany, was traced back to salad vegetables.

“Although much more is known about food safety now than in 1993, the book speaks to our times. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that six more strains of E. coli will be banned from ground beef. That move follows pressure from Marler and represents a step forward in the fight for safe food, which is what “Poisoned” is all about.” — Lynne Terry, The Oregonian, September 24, 2011

Please join us! If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, find an excerpt here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/health/28excerpt.html?_r=1&ref=views#

About Jeff Benedict
Jeff Benedict is a contributor for Sports Illustrated and a writer for SI.com.  In 2011 he launched Inspire Books, his own book publishing imprint.  He published Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the way Americans Eat under the new imprint.  Poisoned is Benedict’s tenth book and critics consider it his best.  The New York Times called it “the full literary experience of a medico-legal thriller in a work of nonfiction.”

Benedict was born in 1966 in New London, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor’s in History from Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master’s in Political Science from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. He previously practiced law in Connecticut, where he has spent most of his life. Today he lives in Virginia where he teaches Writing and Mass Media at Southern Virginia University and lives on a Civil War-era farm with his wife and best friend Lydia Benedict and their four children. http://www.jeffbenedict.com

January 2012 RSVP on Facebook too!

Our January book club selection is The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.

The School of Essential IngredientsThis will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 12th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

Reminiscent of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, a gorgeously written novel about life, love, and the magic of food. The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.

Reviews

“In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence…Delivering memorable story lines and characters while seducing the senses, Bauermeister’s tale of food and hope is sure to satisfy.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“As exquisitely prepared and satisfying as the dishes Lillian prepares in her restaurant.” –Bookreporter“A delicate, meltingly lovely hymn to food and friendship. Lillian’s kitchen, full of buttery light and gorgeous smells, is a place where the world works the way it should. You’ll want to tuck yourself into one warm corner of it and stay all day.” –Marisa de los Santos, author of Belong To Me“Exquisitely written and heartbreakingly delicious. It’s a luscious slice of life… you will enjoy every bit.”
–Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells

About Erica Bauermeister
Erica Bauermeister’s love of slow food and slow life was instilled by her two years living in northern Italy with her family. She has taught literature and writing at the University of Washington. This is her first novel.

November 2011 RSVP on Facebook too!

Organic, IncOur November book club selection is Organic, Inc. by Samuel Fromartz.

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 10th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

From the author:

Organic, Inc. tells how an $11 billion industry arose out of an alternative food movement, bringing backwoods idealists into the age of the organic tortilla chip. A juggernaut in the otherwise sluggish food industry, organic food is now a consumer phenomenon growing at 20 percent a year. But what is organic food? Is it really better for you? Where did it come from and why so many of us buying it?

I set out to answer these questions when I realized my own food choices were changing with the times. Tracing organic food back to its anti-industrial origins more than a century ago, I saw how these ideas bore fruit by influencing a generation of innovators and iconoclasts. Starting on small farms and store-front shops, their alternative way of producing food took root and grew beyond their wildest expectations. In the process, I found the industry came close to betraying the very ideals that drove its expansion, opening a schism at the heart of its free-market success.

Reviews

“In Organic, Inc., Samuel Fromartz gives us a uniquely American story—the emergence of Big Organics from humble origins in small, counterculture farms. Fromartz writes with the passion of an organic partisan but his account of the pros and cons of Organics, Big and Small, is unusually balanced, honest, and compelling.” — Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics

“With one eye on organic food’s past and one eye cast on its future, Samuel Fromartz has a comprehensive vision of an industry at a crossroads. Here is a voice that reminds us of our power as consumers. Anyone reading Organic, Inc. will be inspired to put his money where his mouth is.” — Dan Barber, chef/owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns

“Sam Fromartz has the ability to transform an important subject into an interesting one, as he does with this vivid, vital book, Organic, Inc. No, it’s not a new wave or diet book. It’s a book that will alter the way we think about what we eat and the business forces that shape what we eat.” — Ken Auletta – Author, staff writer The New Yorker

About Samuel Fromartz
Samuel Fromartz is a business journalist who began his career at Reuters in 1985. His first job was writing the “news ticker” that ran in New York City’s Grand Central Station. He then covered virtually every aspect of business, working as a correspondent and editor in New York and Washington, D.C. He left Reuters in 1997 to pursue a freelance career. His work has since appeared in Fortune Small Business, Inc., Business Week, The New York Times, and many other publications. His story on a bankrupt restaurant chain was published in the anthology, Best Business Stories of the Year 2002. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he currently lives in Washington D.C., with his wife and daughter and works from home, a situation that affords him time to cook dinner for the family.

September 2011 RSVP on Facebook too!

Food for AllOur September book club selection is Food for All: Fixing School Food in America by Janet Poppendieck.

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 8th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

How did our children end up eating nachos, pizza, and tater tots for lunch? Taking us on an eye-opening journey into the nation’s school kitchens, this superbly researched book is the first to provide a comprehensive assessment of school food in the United States. Janet Poppendieck explores the deep politics of food provision from multiple perspectives–history, policy, nutrition, environmental sustainability, taste, and more. Drawing from extensive interviews with officials, workers, students, and activists, she discusses the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and turns a critical eye on the “competitive foods” sold in cafeterias. How did we get into the absurd situation in which nutritionally regulated meals compete with fast food items and snack foods loaded with sugar, salt, and fat? What is the nutritional profile of the federal meals? How well are they reaching students who need them? Opening a window onto our culture as a whole, Poppendieck reveals the forces–the financial troubles of schools, the commercialization of childhood, the reliance on market models–that are determining how lunch is served. She concludes with a sweeping vision for change: fresh, healthy food for all children as a regular part of their school day.

Reviews

“In her extraordinarily well-thought-out, beautifully written, sympathetic, and compelling book, Jan Poppendieck makes clear that Free for All has two meanings: how pressures to reduce the cost of school meals put our children’s health at risk, and how best to solve this problem–universal school meals. Anyone who reads this book will find the present school lunch situation beyond unacceptable. Free for All is a call for action on behalf of America’s school kids, one that we all need to join. I will be using this book in all my classes.”–Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics
President Obama has promised to end childhood hunger in America by the year 2015. He and his team should read Jan Poppendieck’s new book Free for All. Her simple premise is that hunger is the enemy of education. She makes a persuasive case for the federal government to provide nutritious free school lunch and breakfast to every school child in America as a major step to end childhood hunger, reduce obesity and a whole range of nutrition related diseases and to improve the education of our children at the same time. Now, for the first time in my 35 years of fighting hunger we have a president who has pledged to actually do it starting with children and a book that provides the roadmap for an important part of the journey. Anyone who cares about our children should read this book.”–Bill Ayres, Co-Founder and Executive Director of WHY (World Hunger Year)
Free For All is an essential resource for anyone interested in school food reform. Janet Poppendieck has taken on a topic of extraordinary complexity and produced a comprehensive and engaging analysis of how the current system came to be, why it is so resistant to change, and what we can do to improve it. Throughout she rejects the scapegoating, moralism, and quick fixes that characterize so much of the current debate over school food. Instead, she offers insightful structural analysis, engaging interviews with front-line food service personnel, and colorful accounts of visits to lunch rooms across the nation. Free For All looks beyond local success stories, calling for a national program redesign that challenges us all to rethink the role of school food policy within the larger food system. What Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was to food safety regulation at the beginning of the last century, Poppendieck’s Free for All may well be for school food reform at the start of the new century.”–Timothy D. Lytton, Angela and Albert Farone Distinguished Professor of Law, Albany Law School
“Janet Poppendieck’s Free for All is a timely and extremely thoughtful call for a sane, just, and healthy school food agenda for America’s children. Complex yet clear, vivid and engrossing, Free for All should be required reading for relevant courses in sociology, education, social work, and public health. It is truly food for thought for students, community activists, and policy makers.”–Ruth Sidel, PhD, Author of Unsung Heroines: Single Mothers and the American Dream

About Janet Poppendieck
Janet Poppendieck is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York. She is the author of Free for All: Fixing School Food in America; (University of California Press, 2010); Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement (Penguin, 1999); and Breadlines Knee Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression (Rutgers University Press, 1985).

July 2011 RSVP on Facebook too!

Our July 14th book club selection is The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life by Seattle’s own Angelo Pellegrini.

Angelo Pellegrini

This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 14th. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

From the publisher:
“First issued in 1948, when soulless minute steaks and quick casseroles were becoming the norm, The Unprejudiced Palate inspired a seismic culinary shift in how America eats. Written by a food-loving immigrant from Tuscany, this memoir-cum-cookbook articulates the Italian American vision of the good life: a backyard garden, a well-cooked meal shared with family and friends, and a passion for ingredients and cooking that nourish the body and the soul.”

The Unprejudiced Palate“I have always thought that Angelo Pellegrini misnamed his charming but opinionated book. It should have been called the Prejudiced Palate, because he is so absolutely sure and unwavering in his vision of how to live a beautiful and delicious life. And I think he’s right.”
–Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse

“Like great dishes, great writing remains in our memory forever. Angelo Pellegrini’s THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a lesson in how to enjoy life in an elegant and highly civilized way.”
– Jacques Pépin

“THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a forgotten gem from what might be remembered as the Golden Age of American food writing. This Italian born, beloved Seattle professor, friend and colleague of MFK Fisher, wrote with charm, wit, and a rare intelligence about food.”
–Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt, Cod, 1968

Resources:

May 2011 RSVP on Facebook too!

Kurt Timmermeister

Our May 12th book club selection is Kurt Timmermeister’s, Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land

“An intimate look at the life and livelihood of a modern-day farmer, as told by a former urbanite. A bona-fide city dweller, Kurt Timmermeister never intended to run his own dairy farm. When he purchased four acres of land on Vashon

Island, he was looking for an affordable home a ferry ride away from the restaurants he ran in Seattle. But as he continued to serve his customers frozen chicken breasts and packaged pork, he became aware of the connection between what he ate and where it came from: a hive of bees provided honey; a young cow could give fresh milk; an apple orchard allowed him to make vinegar.

Growing a FarmerTold in Timmermeister’s plainspoken voice, Growing a Farmer details with honesty the initial stumbles and subsequent realities he had to face in his quest to establish a profitable farm for himself. Personal yet

practical, Growing a Farmer includes the specifics of making cheese, raising cows, and slaughtering pigs, and it will recast entirely the way we think about our relationship to the food we consume.”

Join us! This will be an active, open conversation and all are welcome – please come even if you haven’t had a chance to finish the book! We’ll be meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12. Roy Street Coffee and Tea is located at 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

Please post questions as you’re reading for Kurt in the comments here or on our Reading Discussion on Facebook. Kurt has generously agreed to answer them for us!

RSVP to books@slowfoodseattle.org

Want to pick up a copy of Growing a Farmer? Here’s a list of local booksellers, also available via our Amazon store.

March 2011 RSVP on Facebook too!

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food Our March book club selection was Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. Greenberg describes how four fish–salmon, tuna, bass, and cod– “dominate the modern seafood market.” He takes a culinary journey around the world and examines how the wild fish industry has become increasingly industrialized over the last 30 years. He also shows how we can heal the ocean and make sustainable seafood the rule rather than the exception.
  • Read or listen to an interview with Greenberg on NPR here
  • Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch here and we can discuss your thoughts.
  • See Dan Barber’s funny and thoughtful presentation, “How I Fell In Love with a Fish,” here
  • Support wild salmon & the food, jobs, and economic benefits they provide by sending a letter to President Obama.

January 2011 RSVP on Facebook too!

Join us as we launch Slow Food Seattle Books, a book club for anyone interested in discussing books that help us think about good, clean and fair food issues.

Food Rules by Michael PollanWe’ll start by reading Food Rules, a short, but important book by journalist and food writer, Michael Pollan. With provocative advice like #6 Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients, or #39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself, Pollan reduces wide-ranging findings from the fields of science and nutrition to a set of simple rules that can help guide your daily food decisions.

We’ll meet from 6-7:30 pm on Thursday, January 13, 2011, at Roy Street Coffee and Tea, 700 Broadway East. Limited free parking is available in the lot below.

Bring your copy of the book marked with the three rules you’d love to discuss, as well as titles of other books to consider for future meetings.

For suggestions on more books, download this Slow Food USA Reading List.

Slow Food Seattle Books: A joint project of Slow Food Seattle and Readers to Eaters.

Readers to Eaters Roy Street Coffee and Tea

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Slow Food Seattle Store

Interested in more Slow Food books and films? Shop the Slow Food Seattle store on Amazon.com and a portion of sales benefits our yearly programming and scholarships! We also fully support our local, independent booksellers – see the ABA list of Seattle stores.

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  1. Pingback: Getting Involved… « Good Food Health

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