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Since Coming Home to Eat was first published in 2001, the local food movement has exploded, and more people than ever are "going green" in an effort to lead healthier, more eco-friendly lives. Gary Nabhan’s year-long mission to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within 220 miles of his Arizona home offers striking and timely insights into our evolving relationship w Since Coming Home to Eat was first published in 2001, the local food movement has exploded, and more people than ever are "going green" in an effort to lead healthier, more eco-friendly lives. Gary Nabhan’s year-long mission to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within 220 miles of his Arizona home offers striking and timely insights into our evolving relationship with food and place—and encourages us to redefine "eating close to home" as an act of deep cultural and environmental significance. As an avid gardener, ethnobotanist preserving seed diversity, and activist devoted to recovering native food traditions in the Southwest, Nabhan writes of his long campaign to raise awareness about food with contagious passion and humor.


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Since Coming Home to Eat was first published in 2001, the local food movement has exploded, and more people than ever are "going green" in an effort to lead healthier, more eco-friendly lives. Gary Nabhan’s year-long mission to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within 220 miles of his Arizona home offers striking and timely insights into our evolving relationship w Since Coming Home to Eat was first published in 2001, the local food movement has exploded, and more people than ever are "going green" in an effort to lead healthier, more eco-friendly lives. Gary Nabhan’s year-long mission to eat only foods grown, fished, or gathered within 220 miles of his Arizona home offers striking and timely insights into our evolving relationship with food and place—and encourages us to redefine "eating close to home" as an act of deep cultural and environmental significance. As an avid gardener, ethnobotanist preserving seed diversity, and activist devoted to recovering native food traditions in the Southwest, Nabhan writes of his long campaign to raise awareness about food with contagious passion and humor.

30 review for Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Food

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Can I give this zero stars? This was a terrible book. Do NOT bother with it. It was assigned reading by my professor, and I actually had hoped it would be a great inspirational message. Halfway through it, I looked up reviews online and the words that kept popping up were "godawful" and "disappointing." This is a book about sustainable, local food driving local communities. It is obvious that the author is passionate about food safety and heritage. Yet the writing is dull, monotonous, and lifele Can I give this zero stars? This was a terrible book. Do NOT bother with it. It was assigned reading by my professor, and I actually had hoped it would be a great inspirational message. Halfway through it, I looked up reviews online and the words that kept popping up were "godawful" and "disappointing." This is a book about sustainable, local food driving local communities. It is obvious that the author is passionate about food safety and heritage. Yet the writing is dull, monotonous, and lifeless. A little less ego could have resulted in better editing, or perhaps a ghost writer could have brought the words to life, converting this tome of garrulous lecturing into a riveting page-turner that could inspire people to bring their own food choices into a closer geographic circle. After reading two-thirds of this “manifesto of the local food movement” (as quoted by Michael Pollan on the cover), I feel no fire under my ass to rush out and plant my own native species… instead I am left to ponder why I would spend $15 to have someone turn my own flour into tortillas. This book wanders, has no clear thesis despite the strong message on the cover, and falls extremely short of what I think was the author's goal. It is BORING and if you find yourself in possession of it, the best you can do with it is recycle the paper it is printed on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This is the first of Nabhan's books that I've read, and it was exactly what I had hoped for. His writing style is lyrical, occasionally to the point of engendering slight discomfort in someone obviously too used to ironic, "meta" writing styles. Nabhan writes of his initially-yearlong exploration of what it means to eat locally, starting with the admittedly-arbitrary "rules" (subject to change) of a 250-mile boundary around his house and the attempt to make four out of every five meals with foods This is the first of Nabhan's books that I've read, and it was exactly what I had hoped for. His writing style is lyrical, occasionally to the point of engendering slight discomfort in someone obviously too used to ironic, "meta" writing styles. Nabhan writes of his initially-yearlong exploration of what it means to eat locally, starting with the admittedly-arbitrary "rules" (subject to change) of a 250-mile boundary around his house and the attempt to make four out of every five meals with foods from within that boundary. As is the case with any such quest or issue, Nabhan quickly discovers and starts exploring shadings and nuances and iterations of the idea of "local food," some of which take him far outside his Arizona foodshed. Although he doesn't shy away from stating his opinions and ideals, Nabhan also displays an academic's acknowledgment of his own limitations and biases, and to me, the amorphous, shifting nature of his exploration reflected reality far better than anything rigidly pre- or proscriptive could have. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to delve into the myriad ideas, ideals and issues that weave together under the heading of "sustainable food"... and to anyone who wants to be swept up, through words, into the smoke and dust and sunshine and songs that make up Nabhan's bit of earth.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    A thought provoking book indeed. Disclaimer, I'm a vegetarian, so the sequences about slaughter of nicely raised critters just provoked in my mind "really, you don't need to do that!". But fascinating details about the food plants of the Sonora desert region with passionate meanderings about the WTO, GMO, and so on. The author comes across as something of a fanatic prig, and I imagine I would not care to spend much time in his presence, but the book is worth reading and thinking about. It's 10 y A thought provoking book indeed. Disclaimer, I'm a vegetarian, so the sequences about slaughter of nicely raised critters just provoked in my mind "really, you don't need to do that!". But fascinating details about the food plants of the Sonora desert region with passionate meanderings about the WTO, GMO, and so on. The author comes across as something of a fanatic prig, and I imagine I would not care to spend much time in his presence, but the book is worth reading and thinking about. It's 10 years old, but the debates are still quite current.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was a pleasant book, but not necessarily memorable. Actually, to be honest, I was flaming mad at the end of the book. The book dawdled along until the last 10 pages when the author casually mentioned that he went on a several hundred mile pilgrimage walk across the Mexican desert with some Native Americans and they only ate native food that they found, hunted, or was laying on the road squished by cars. Why did that make me mad? Because THAT experience is what the book should have been abou This was a pleasant book, but not necessarily memorable. Actually, to be honest, I was flaming mad at the end of the book. The book dawdled along until the last 10 pages when the author casually mentioned that he went on a several hundred mile pilgrimage walk across the Mexican desert with some Native Americans and they only ate native food that they found, hunted, or was laying on the road squished by cars. Why did that make me mad? Because THAT experience is what the book should have been about! It would have been so interesting! But instead it was relegated to a few pages after other blah blah blah stuff. Let me compare this to stories that my mother tells. She generally tends to focus on things that are not important and leaves out the good stuff. I have to examples. One I will call ‘Halloween’. The other ‘Merry Christmas!’ Merry Christmas!: My mom once told us that there was this super hilarious thing that happened to her. Ok, crap! I can’t actually remember what happened, but the story culminated with some people yelling “Merry Christmas!” and her looking expectantly at my sister and I, waiting for us to start laughing. Except that she forgot to tell us the part of the story that made the ‘Merry Christmas’ part funny. In fact, I seem to remember her getting mad at us for not laughing and not intuitively knowing what had happened. Maybe my sister can fill us in on the details of that story. Abby, please post something. Halloween: Hmmm…as I think about it, this story is much more like this book than the Merry Christmas story. Ok, so here’s the backstory: there is a neighbor that we grew up with who has been suffering from bone cancer for several years. Her name is Mary. My mom does her best to help out when Mary needs her. So, here’s the story as my mom tells it… “One day Mary called me, screaming in pain. Her pain medication was not working. Mary could not walk and was screaming, screaming, screaming. I went to her house and was doing her laundry to help out. I went downstairs and saw her Halloween spider hanging in the storage room and I screamed my guts out. It was totally hilarious.” That was it. Then my mom expected us to laugh at how funny it was that the Halloween décor had scared her. She told this to my sister and I separeatly and as we compared notes we discovered that we both had the same reaction: WAS MARY OK? WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT A SPIDER!!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO MARY WHO WAS SCREAMING IN PAIN? To which my mother casually answered, “Oh, she was fine,” which is EXACTLY like this book…the important parts, Mary/the Mexican desert pilgrimage, were briefly and casually mentioned.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrewdashgillman

    While the pacing is sometimes uneven, Gary Paul Nabhan always seems to gain momentum as he nears the end of a chapter propelling me through the text. His moral seems to crystalize in those moments, reinforcing the message not always made explicit by his local musings and wanderings (though the point is clear). Consider the concluding thoughts of “The Fertile Months,” his treatise on summer. Nabhan is never just tending to his garden in the name of his grand experiment, the central device driving While the pacing is sometimes uneven, Gary Paul Nabhan always seems to gain momentum as he nears the end of a chapter propelling me through the text. His moral seems to crystalize in those moments, reinforcing the message not always made explicit by his local musings and wanderings (though the point is clear). Consider the concluding thoughts of “The Fertile Months,” his treatise on summer. Nabhan is never just tending to his garden in the name of his grand experiment, the central device driving this book, namely, to eat four-fifths of meals from food sourced locally. Instead, Nabhan has weaved a net of the local food experiment with political action, changing not just how he eats, but how we eat as a nation—in this case helping to change the way the woefully underfunded environmental and food protection agencies of the federal government perceived and understood corn genetically modified with a pesticide inserted into its genome. Call it preaching, but Nabhan is a preacher (and an early one) for the local food movement who backs his words with empiricism both with respect to the deleterious effect of that particular GMO corn and in the culturally and physically nourishing qualities of his smaller, local food celebrations. Conscious eating, rather than just throwing ourselves haphazardly into the act, taking into our bodies unchecked the products of an industrialized food system. Ultimately, that’s the parallel he draws to the biotech industry’s abandonment of the precautionary principle “that encourages society to assess the pitfalls of an unprecedented action or novel product before unleashing it on the world.” Coming Home to Eat is about his personal struggle to escape from a world damaged by unhealthy, unsustainable food practices. “Knowing exactly what you are eating—and where it came from—is still a moral and spiritual necessity for many cultures in this world.” America allowed industrial food producers to prepare, package, and ship the vast majority of our food with little oversight for a long time. And while the history of food labeling and nutrition finally required honest disclosure of food products by 1965, ingredient disclosure didn’t become standardized until the nineties. Today, the battle of ingredient disclosure continues to waged, and thanks to powerful industry lobbyists, genetically modified food continues to not have to be disclosed on labels. Of course, growing and cooking all your own food is one solution, but for most of us not a reality. Like Gary Nabhan, we can only endeavor to do the very best we can.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    This well-written book that is fun to read has led me to feeling more connected to where I live more than anything else. Because I am now consciously eating as much locally as l can, I think about the land around me. Are we keeping it healthy so that it can keep us healthy? What does it taste like? A must-read book, if you will let it seep into you and shape your actions. "No wonder that some of those who survived the depression and the Dust Bowl later indulged themselves in conspicuous consumpti This well-written book that is fun to read has led me to feeling more connected to where I live more than anything else. Because I am now consciously eating as much locally as l can, I think about the land around me. Are we keeping it healthy so that it can keep us healthy? What does it taste like? A must-read book, if you will let it seep into you and shape your actions. "No wonder that some of those who survived the depression and the Dust Bowl later indulged themselves in conspicuous consumption, in being proud of the fact that they had the leeway to "eat out" now and then. it is as cut and dried as an obituary column in a small town newspaper. For the three decades following the depression, Americans used their hard-won prosperity to purchase more and more of their food in ready-to-eat fashion.... "But the generation of kids raised by survivors of those dark and dusty times accepted that luxury as the norm. From the seventies through the nineties, as the average American's disposable income increased by 40 percent, so did their consumption of processed food. Even though they had the economic slack to immerse themselves in the pleasures of gardening and fishing, baking in wood-fired ovens and fermenting their own home brews, Americans spent less time preparing meals, and more time buying precooked packaged foods." p. 258 "...folks of Italian descent gain health benefits from integrating elements of ancient Mediterranean cuisine into their contemporary diet...cholesterol and blood-pressure levels plummet when Mexican Americans...return to the nopalitos and baked mescal of their Nahuatl ancestors...native Hawaiians lose weight and control of their diabetes when poi and tropical fruits regain prominence on their dinner tables. of course, some are hurt by the absence of traditional foods more than others are; although my mother's family suffered through famine and feast cycles much like those that O'odham neighbors did before government food assistance arrived, only one of my cousins suffers from diabetes, while nearly all my Indian neighbors do." p. 260

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Personal narrative from a seed-saver and expert on the native foods of the Southwest. Nabhan has a spiritual - not particularly ecological, or even logical - devotion to local food. It's exciting to read about his adventures uncovering native desert foods, but I was a bit put off by the way he fetishizes everything native (he's not native to the area himself). He gets lost on tangents about issues about which he knows very little, like medicine and economics. Personal narrative from a seed-saver and expert on the native foods of the Southwest. Nabhan has a spiritual - not particularly ecological, or even logical - devotion to local food. It's exciting to read about his adventures uncovering native desert foods, but I was a bit put off by the way he fetishizes everything native (he's not native to the area himself). He gets lost on tangents about issues about which he knows very little, like medicine and economics.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Michael Pollan's work is much better. This book was at times too preachy and at others hard to follow; what was up with the bad Jamaican "quote" from the cab driver in DC? Plus I was left wondering why the book started with a trip to Lebanon when that trip and even the author's heritage played virtually no role at all in the book. It seems like this guy has done some good things - I will get my seeds from Seed Savers from now on - but it gets lost in his writing style. Michael Pollan's work is much better. This book was at times too preachy and at others hard to follow; what was up with the bad Jamaican "quote" from the cab driver in DC? Plus I was left wondering why the book started with a trip to Lebanon when that trip and even the author's heritage played virtually no role at all in the book. It seems like this guy has done some good things - I will get my seeds from Seed Savers from now on - but it gets lost in his writing style.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    C- I was really excited to read another book about eating locally, but the writing I thought was rather boring, too many tangents. Read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" or "Plenty" if you want to read about eating and/or growing locally. C- I was really excited to read another book about eating locally, but the writing I thought was rather boring, too many tangents. Read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" or "Plenty" if you want to read about eating and/or growing locally.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    I usually love these types books but this one just bit the dust..I couldn't even finish it I usually love these types books but this one just bit the dust..I couldn't even finish it

  11. 5 out of 5

    P.

    I learned about this book in a review of a similar book (Babs Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). The reviewer said that this was less kvetchy and more authentic b/c Nabhan has a real challenge in feeding himself locally, being located in the desert, whereas Kingsolver was situated in lush Virginia. And, I believe, this is one of the first of its kind of slow food memoirs. I think they're pretty similar. I enjoyed both. Nabhan is an earnest idealistic local food evangelist. He knows he's an I learned about this book in a review of a similar book (Babs Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). The reviewer said that this was less kvetchy and more authentic b/c Nabhan has a real challenge in feeding himself locally, being located in the desert, whereas Kingsolver was situated in lush Virginia. And, I believe, this is one of the first of its kind of slow food memoirs. I think they're pretty similar. I enjoyed both. Nabhan is an earnest idealistic local food evangelist. He knows he's an evangelist, but does a good job confronting his own foibles, I think. He's aware that his foodshed is self-imposed and arbitrary. Self-awareness is always good. In general, the story of his year focusing on local foods, building a community through that, and the informative sections about the global food industry are well interspersed. But sometimes he'll hamhandedly segue from one to the other with a personal anecdote that he set himself up for, and really fake dialogue. Such as: I'm going to make my girlfriend brunch with "nutraceutical" foods! Let me narrate each one that I found in the grocery store, and then confront my girlfriend with a meal so I can record her bemused reaction and rejection of the meal! Don't we all agree that these foods are weird? Here are some facts." Learning about what Nabhan ate was great. I wish I could have tasted some of it... but I'm not in the correct foodshed. There were some contradictions. He mentions an area known for growing salad greens that was overhomogenized and plagued by pests. But also saved itself by unholy amounts of pesticides? There seemed to be a moral but I wasn't sure what it was. He criticizes NAFTA for open up the borders between Mexico and the US because it messed up import/export prices for local/nonlocal beans and killed a lot of Mexican farms, while boosting super greenhouse farms for things imported to the US, then a couple of pages later bemoans the border of Mexico/US being closed and cutting the foodshed in two. He tries to grow 2 kinds of squashes and the native one thrives, showing that native foods are naturally tougher than nonnative foods, and then later rants about invasive species. But most of the time, it is sad to hear of the issues that we still have today being mentioned in this book, because nothing has changed. it has gotten worse. In 1999 and 2006, 80% of citizens supported labeling of GMO products. This is a bill that is still trying to get passed today. It's always sad to see how much industry has bought our politicians. It's a little disheartening. It's good to have someone like Nabhan doing what he can, searching for a larger way to help while taking care of himself with the little things. Eating good food. Making new friends. Advocating. Doing important work! I hope he's still doing it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    I love the idea of eating local, however Gary Paul Nabhan takes his year of local-eating to an extreme that I just couldn't identify with. He lives in Arizona (Yay! Like me! Maybe I can get some tips!) and decides that "local" means "native to 100 miles around my home." Not cultivated, but NATIVE. Ok, so, this means he spends his year eating cactus flowers and weedy greens he picks from public lands and--literally--roadkill. He does also grow a garden full of plants that are native to the southw I love the idea of eating local, however Gary Paul Nabhan takes his year of local-eating to an extreme that I just couldn't identify with. He lives in Arizona (Yay! Like me! Maybe I can get some tips!) and decides that "local" means "native to 100 miles around my home." Not cultivated, but NATIVE. Ok, so, this means he spends his year eating cactus flowers and weedy greens he picks from public lands and--literally--roadkill. He does also grow a garden full of plants that are native to the southwest, and he raises a couple of turkeys, and I think that overall his version of local is a cool idea in theory, but I also think that I would starve if I had to subsist on rattlesnake road kill or hunted neighborhood quail and salads made from weeds and flower petals. It's just...it's not sustainable. For one guy, sure. But not for more than that. Nabhan relies heavily on techniques and methods he learns from Native Americans on reservations around Tuscon, and I completely respect their ways, but again, it is not sustainable for more than a small group. There are REASONS the southwest was sparsely populated until the invention of air conditioning and automated farming sprinklers. As is, the land cannot sustain the numbers of people who now live here. Nabhan spends a lot of time arguing the health benefits of eating the diet that is local to your ethnic nativity...but, um, he's not Native American and his ancestors are not from the Southwest. He's Irish-Lebanese...and the seeds he brought from his family home in Lebanon couldn't grow in his backyard garden. So his year of eating some other group's local/native foods should not have done anything for his health outside the general best practice of eating organic and farm-to-table, cutting out the Monsanto's and Cargill's of the world. He also gets SUPER political at the end and I just couldn't follow it, he did not write in a way that convinced me to care as much as he does, which is unfortunate, because I WANT to care!

  13. 4 out of 5

    BookBec

    2.5 stars. Two because yeah, it was okay, but the extra half star because it was better than I thought it would be. I was ambivalent at the beginning, wanting to read it based on recommendations and the subject matter, but with a niggling not-quite-memory of reading some Nabhan before and not liking it (before my Goodreads days of keeping track of these things). Overall, it reminded me of conversations with some of my relatives: there are subjects they're quite knowledgeable about, they like to t 2.5 stars. Two because yeah, it was okay, but the extra half star because it was better than I thought it would be. I was ambivalent at the beginning, wanting to read it based on recommendations and the subject matter, but with a niggling not-quite-memory of reading some Nabhan before and not liking it (before my Goodreads days of keeping track of these things). Overall, it reminded me of conversations with some of my relatives: there are subjects they're quite knowledgeable about, they like to talk and tell stories, but you're always wondering if they'll actually loop back around through all the side stories to return to the main point. For example, Nabhan talks about his trip to Oregon, describes his plans to spend a day hanging out with a mushroom hunter and another forager, tells us lots of details about the mushroom expedition, and ends the chapter. Wait -- what about the other guy he was excited to split the day with? And there's the story about his salsa shelf collapsing after his return from Washington -- but the trip to Washington doesn't come up until several chapters later, so it's just a dangling reference here. That one's more of an editing problem than a storytelling problem, along with the inconsistent use of "foodshed" vs. "food shed" (find-and-replace is a useful tool!). I wish the book had been more tightly focused and edited, because Nabhan has great knowledge of his local foodshed, food traditions of nearby Native communities, and food issues from local to global. Unfortunately, his meandering rambles leave me disinclined to read more of his works.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I glanced at some of the negative reviews of this book on goodreads, but based on the excerpt that I read in the American Food Writing anthology, I felt I had to read it. My impulse wasn't wrong. In some ways, this book rivals Botany of Desire as the food book that has had the most profound impact on my soul. Comparisons to Pollan are unfair; they're both creative nonfiction writers, but there's a big difference-- passion. Nabhan writes personally, and with passion rather than the cool distance o I glanced at some of the negative reviews of this book on goodreads, but based on the excerpt that I read in the American Food Writing anthology, I felt I had to read it. My impulse wasn't wrong. In some ways, this book rivals Botany of Desire as the food book that has had the most profound impact on my soul. Comparisons to Pollan are unfair; they're both creative nonfiction writers, but there's a big difference-- passion. Nabhan writes personally, and with passion rather than the cool distance of a seasoned journalistic professional. This book supposedly is the launching point for the "locavore" movement, but that really doesn't do it justice. It's not really about twee restaurants and CSAs. People looking for "how to" advice on how to eat locally will be disappointed; I suspect that's where the negative reviews are coming from. The book, like most of Pollan's writing, isn't really prescriptive. It's a reflection on our food system and our culture, an as such it's mostly a chronicle of failures both personal and societal. Nabhan, like Pollan, doesn't preach-- he simply highlights the difficulty of all manner of prescriptive preaching. Simply put, it's complicated. I can't recommend it highly enough if you care about being human, and considering just what our position on the food chain entails.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    I had a very mixed reaction to this book. I was not impressed with the writing in the beginning-- it was stilted and awkward. But, by a third or so into the book it improved. I think that Nabhan's strong point is his immense knowledge of ecology and biology. Once he started focusing on what he knows well-- the effects of Bt and GMO corn on Monarch butterflies and other rare butterfly populations and other environmental issues of a similar nature-- the book improved. But, I have to admit that if I had a very mixed reaction to this book. I was not impressed with the writing in the beginning-- it was stilted and awkward. But, by a third or so into the book it improved. I think that Nabhan's strong point is his immense knowledge of ecology and biology. Once he started focusing on what he knows well-- the effects of Bt and GMO corn on Monarch butterflies and other rare butterfly populations and other environmental issues of a similar nature-- the book improved. But, I have to admit that if I wasn't reading the book for a book group meeting I may not have made it to the good parts! I saw other reviews of this book comment on Nabhan's weird use of Spam as a color-- why are all of the sunsets in the book referred to as Spam-colored? (He even refers to a moldy-spam colored sunset (see page 158). Must be an inside joke!?!? Overall, the book is not about the average person's attempts to "eat local", or at least how I understand them since he takes eating local to a very far extreme. Nabhan returns to Native American traditions of the American Southwest -- such as roasting grasshoppers and eating caterpillars-- not exactly the "Eat Local" I had in mind. However,it was a thought-provoking book and I definitely learned a lot from it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Coming Home to Eat is a wonderfully well written and engaging book by Gary Nabhan, who attempts to eat food within 250 mile radius of his home in Arizona. He even asks his friends to join him in his endeavour. Gary tries to eat food that is grown, forage or hunt (roadkill is OK) or fished within 250 miles. I find Gary Nabhan's book to be more than about eating locally, but almost a spiritual journey in regards to the author's surrounding. He emphasizes that food is more than about eating or even Coming Home to Eat is a wonderfully well written and engaging book by Gary Nabhan, who attempts to eat food within 250 mile radius of his home in Arizona. He even asks his friends to join him in his endeavour. Gary tries to eat food that is grown, forage or hunt (roadkill is OK) or fished within 250 miles. I find Gary Nabhan's book to be more than about eating locally, but almost a spiritual journey in regards to the author's surrounding. He emphasizes that food is more than about eating or even eating organic, but knowing and understand its cultural and historical importance as well terroir, just like wine. He weaves stories about his family and friends to tell us about how the changes in the way we 'get' our food have these unintended consequences for the people, animals, and plants it displaces. Along the way we journey with Gary and his friends to the desert and the Gulf of California. Like Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, Coming Home to Eat has me thinking about where, who, and how my food come from...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Thank you Felicia! I would have missed this book if not for your gift. Dr. Habhan is an ethnobotanist, research scientist, essayist and founder/facilitator of Renewing America's Food Traditions initiative. In a very personal manner he promotes eating local foods (within 220 miles) and chronicles his challenges to live that promotion in his Arizona setting examining and sampling the historic foods of the area by connecting with the local natives in and out of the USA. Part science and history les Thank you Felicia! I would have missed this book if not for your gift. Dr. Habhan is an ethnobotanist, research scientist, essayist and founder/facilitator of Renewing America's Food Traditions initiative. In a very personal manner he promotes eating local foods (within 220 miles) and chronicles his challenges to live that promotion in his Arizona setting examining and sampling the historic foods of the area by connecting with the local natives in and out of the USA. Part science and history lessons, part gardening/cooking attempts with lots of personal observations injected with humor as he works to uncover and recover native food traditions in the Southwest. I took my time "digesting" this treasure and "savored" his messages, (bad) puns intended. Now to better follow his example: uncover and utilize more local whole food choices as well raise more of my own food.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mousy Brown

    I really enjoyed this book, it was thought provoking, informative and well written. The author is fairly extreme in his beliefs and practices and I know I will never live a life where I forage and kill all my own food but he has certainly inspired me to think a great deal more about where my food comes from and how its production impacts on others and the planet. I must say I find it fairly depressing to read about the destruction of land and sea that large scale agribusinesses commit on a daily I really enjoyed this book, it was thought provoking, informative and well written. The author is fairly extreme in his beliefs and practices and I know I will never live a life where I forage and kill all my own food but he has certainly inspired me to think a great deal more about where my food comes from and how its production impacts on others and the planet. I must say I find it fairly depressing to read about the destruction of land and sea that large scale agribusinesses commit on a daily basis and I'm not sure that the book realistically suggested any solutions that might be appealing to the general population (those not keen on eating roadkill and insects) but having said that I can also see that continuation of these practices are taking other options away day by day. If you are interested in these topics this book is definitely worth a read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Bleh. Yet another person's experience eating locally for one year, but this time the author is an ethnobotanist and folklorist living in Arizona. He's also a horrible writer. He has a unique point of view, though. Unlike other localvores, he doesn't try to make his own cheese or grow all of his own foods. He just, for example, finds some bugs or some plants and thinks: is this edible? what native person can show me how to prepare it so I may eat it? He has no problem preparing roadkill or huntin Bleh. Yet another person's experience eating locally for one year, but this time the author is an ethnobotanist and folklorist living in Arizona. He's also a horrible writer. He has a unique point of view, though. Unlike other localvores, he doesn't try to make his own cheese or grow all of his own foods. He just, for example, finds some bugs or some plants and thinks: is this edible? what native person can show me how to prepare it so I may eat it? He has no problem preparing roadkill or hunting/gathering, but don't even get him started on the evils of tofu (genetically engineered soybeans, etc).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I was initially optimistic about this book but, while it was a good read, it wasn't as great as I had thought. Nabhan brings a unique perspective to the local food movement both because of his background as an agricultural scientist and because he writes from the American Southwest, an area which doesn't appear in these monographs quite as other areas of the country. Coming Home to Eat is a story both of a dying way of eating and disappearing traditional communities. It is most definitely food f I was initially optimistic about this book but, while it was a good read, it wasn't as great as I had thought. Nabhan brings a unique perspective to the local food movement both because of his background as an agricultural scientist and because he writes from the American Southwest, an area which doesn't appear in these monographs quite as other areas of the country. Coming Home to Eat is a story both of a dying way of eating and disappearing traditional communities. It is most definitely food for thought, but I often thought that Nabhan was trying a bit too hard to tie the two together. The connection in his narrative is natural--he doesn't need to fource it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    A beautifully-written homage to Sonoran Desert foods that all of us born & raised in the Sonoran Desert should read. Interspersed with thoughts and statistics about modern agriculture, ag politics, and the food industry, and sassy passages such as, “Just to ensure that all my nondairy product purchases were not soy based, I selected Rice Dream, an alternative to soy beverages, which were in turn an alternative to cow beverages like milk. Rice Dream came from Imagine Foods. I shook the container A beautifully-written homage to Sonoran Desert foods that all of us born & raised in the Sonoran Desert should read. Interspersed with thoughts and statistics about modern agriculture, ag politics, and the food industry, and sassy passages such as, “Just to ensure that all my nondairy product purchases were not soy based, I selected Rice Dream, an alternative to soy beverages, which were in turn an alternative to cow beverages like milk. Rice Dream came from Imagine Foods. I shook the container to determine whether there was something wet inside or whether it was all in the producer's imagination," it makes for both entertaining and stimulating reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    This pre-dates the more current attempts to describe eating locally (the 100 mile diet, Kingsolver's book, for examples), and with it, provides what I think is a more accurate description of the real challenges of geography--- something that many of us would-be healthy, thoughtful eaters happily? overlook. Geography plays a huge part in what can be grown, what can be eaten, if one is applying the local rule. And I think that people need to be honest about the trade-offs that each individual are This pre-dates the more current attempts to describe eating locally (the 100 mile diet, Kingsolver's book, for examples), and with it, provides what I think is a more accurate description of the real challenges of geography--- something that many of us would-be healthy, thoughtful eaters happily? overlook. Geography plays a huge part in what can be grown, what can be eaten, if one is applying the local rule. And I think that people need to be honest about the trade-offs that each individual are willing, and in truth, able to make in the case of local, sustainable economies.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Having read several books on local foods and sustainability, I really wanted to love this book. I wanted to read about this man's year of eating local in the southwest US. However, I found the book just about as dry as the soil in the Arizona, where the book takes place... his writing style did not engage me at all. It did not make me want to continue turning the pages. Perhaps it is because I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life right before this? It had great potential... but i Having read several books on local foods and sustainability, I really wanted to love this book. I wanted to read about this man's year of eating local in the southwest US. However, I found the book just about as dry as the soil in the Arizona, where the book takes place... his writing style did not engage me at all. It did not make me want to continue turning the pages. Perhaps it is because I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life right before this? It had great potential... but it left me disappointed.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jill Lucht

    This book started with a highly pretentious tone, but it won me over in the end. I never got over the author's sense of privilege, especially regarding his commentary on people's, especially women's, appearance throughout the book. But he name dropped my friend and mentor Jack Kloppenburg, so I committed to finishing the book. I must keep in mind that this is an older book, and tremendous progress has taken place in the local foods movement since he wrote it. At the time, his thoughts were proba This book started with a highly pretentious tone, but it won me over in the end. I never got over the author's sense of privilege, especially regarding his commentary on people's, especially women's, appearance throughout the book. But he name dropped my friend and mentor Jack Kloppenburg, so I committed to finishing the book. I must keep in mind that this is an older book, and tremendous progress has taken place in the local foods movement since he wrote it. At the time, his thoughts were probably pioneering.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    The author works in the field of seed-saving, native plants, and regional, sustainable foods. Living in the southwest US, he is keenly aware of the desert foods historically eaten by the native people of that area, including those from cactus, which I had no idea even had edible parts! He makes a commitment to spend a year eating, as much as possible, only foods grown or fished within 200 miles of his home. The project inspires him to many kinds of research, especially uniting with native friend The author works in the field of seed-saving, native plants, and regional, sustainable foods. Living in the southwest US, he is keenly aware of the desert foods historically eaten by the native people of that area, including those from cactus, which I had no idea even had edible parts! He makes a commitment to spend a year eating, as much as possible, only foods grown or fished within 200 miles of his home. The project inspires him to many kinds of research, especially uniting with native friends from Mexico and the southwestern US to hunt, gather, and prepare traditional foods.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This book really makes one think about where our food comes from and what impacts food production and shipping have on everything from our own psyche to the environment. The prose is a bit undisciplined and "all over the place", but the author brings up some salient points about the pleasures and benefits of at least making an effort to derive our food from more local sources (like our gardens!). This book really makes one think about where our food comes from and what impacts food production and shipping have on everything from our own psyche to the environment. The prose is a bit undisciplined and "all over the place", but the author brings up some salient points about the pleasures and benefits of at least making an effort to derive our food from more local sources (like our gardens!).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Miera

    I must admit that I stopped reading a chapter or two before the end - the point at which the author is gathering food in the desert and one of his companions breaks the legs of a lizard to immobilize it and sticks it underneath his belt to carry it home. Overall, I liked what the author was saying about eating locally, however the millions of people who now inhabit desert areas, like the author, cannot possibly forage for food sustainably.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben Williams

    Gary is a local-foods icon of sorts in Arizona and the Southwest. He is an avid writer and wrote this book about living in the desert of Arizona (near Tucson). He definitely captures the romance, mystery, and pleasure of cooking, eating, and sharing food locally. His writings left me with a pleasant, excited feeling: ready to learn what foods my place has to offer, how to prepare them, and what traditions historically accompanied them.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josie

    Rather frustrating to find that issues the author was raising in 2002 still are unresolved today. The local food movement is not a new thing, and GMO issues have been with us for more than a decade, the rise of diabetes and its ties to processed food. Why has nothing substantial been done to address the environmental impact of these experiments. Grumble. The book was interesting and readable, but sometimes meandered into issues that didn't interest me. Rather frustrating to find that issues the author was raising in 2002 still are unresolved today. The local food movement is not a new thing, and GMO issues have been with us for more than a decade, the rise of diabetes and its ties to processed food. Why has nothing substantial been done to address the environmental impact of these experiments. Grumble. The book was interesting and readable, but sometimes meandered into issues that didn't interest me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    I picked up this book from the library because I like books about food and I'm interested in the idea of eating more local and fresh foods. The book certainly covered those areas, but I still didn't enjoy it as much as similar books that I've read. The author is obviously a scientist and not a writer, and so the quality of writing was really uneven. In the end I thought some parts were interesting, but the book as a whole just didn't do much to convince me of anything. I picked up this book from the library because I like books about food and I'm interested in the idea of eating more local and fresh foods. The book certainly covered those areas, but I still didn't enjoy it as much as similar books that I've read. The author is obviously a scientist and not a writer, and so the quality of writing was really uneven. In the end I thought some parts were interesting, but the book as a whole just didn't do much to convince me of anything.

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