Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket

Brian Halweil, Author W. W. Norton & Company $16.95 (236p) ISBN 978-0-393-32664-2
Some people may ask, ""what's wrong with getting my food from some distant land, if the food is cheap and the system works?"" The point Halweil, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, makes throughout this book is that those prices are artificially low, and the system is actually broken. Halweil's writing is journalistic in its reliance on interviews with farmers and activists, but the book's abundant statistics, graphs and suggestions for action lend it the tone of a policy paper--one that is, nonetheless, impassioned and accessible. Halweil gives readers reasons for pessimism (the thousands of gallons of fossil fuel used to ship fresh greens around the world; unprecedented risks of contaminated food) and optimism (the spread of ""farm shops"" across Europe; the Vermont diner that's thriving by using almost entirely local food); fortunately, his optimism usually prevails. Following each chapter is a short success story, such as that of David Cole, who jumpstarted Hawaii's cattle-raising and crop-raising business. Halweil makes a strong argument that a system dominated by ""globe-trotting food"" sold in impersonal megastores is bad for the health of economies and people alike, while ""eating local"" and encouraging regional self-sufficiency is good for both the environment and the human race. Besides highlighting projects already underway, which will inspire and encourage farmers and activists everywhere, Halweil offers ideas for the individual consumer (such as hosting a ""harvest party"" at your home or in your community). Even when describing the decline of local agriculture, his tone remains upbeat. An essential read for those interested in the sustainable agriculture movement, this book may also appeal to general foodies and those who are concerned about the land and the environment.
Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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