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Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York
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Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  408 ratings  ·  88 reviews
New York is not a city for growing and manufacturing food. It’s a money and real estate city, with less naked earth and industry than high-rise glass and concrete. Yet in this intimate, visceral, and beautifully written book, Robin Shulman introduces the people of New York City - both past and present - who do grow vegetables, butcher meat, fish local waters, cut and refin ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Crown (first published January 1st 2012)
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Gotham by Mike  WallaceA House on the Heights by Truman CapoteEat the City by Robin ShulmanFive Points by Tyler Anbinder
Books About NYC History
2nd out of 4 books — 3 voters
Salt Sugar Fat by Michael MossWheat Belly by William  DavisFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanTwinkie, Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger
Food and the Food Industry
15th out of 53 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,269)
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A fun and informative….and hunger inducing read.

This is a mouth watering, thirst inducing story of culinary New York both past and present. Shulman alternately sketches the history of New York City and its relationship to a particular food or beverage juxtaposed against a current entrepreneur who’s attempting to start their own brewery, work their own bee hives, market premium meat, etc. Her descriptions made me want to go out and grab some of whatever she was describing. The fascinating part is
This is the first book I won in a "First Reads" Giveaway and I was simply happy to have won, I didn't actually expect to enjoy it.

Robin Shulman is a writer for the Washington Post and New York Times and her journalistic craft is evident. She's also a New Yorker. In this book (with the unfortunately long title), she's accomplished the impossible in my mind: she's made me appreciate newspaper writers again and she's broken down the resistance I have towards all things "city" and actually planted a
Barbara M.
I loved this book. I grew up in Brooklyn NY and had no idea there were beekeepers, small beer brewers, fishermen (except for the boats out of Sheepshead Bay), independent butchers, and small farms right in the middle of Manhattan and all over NYC. Robin Shulman weaves a tale interspersing history with current day representatives of each craft (and they are crafts), writing in clear, beautifully flowing prose. Highly recommended.
I LOVE food. Though I don’t consider myself a foodie, I appreciate and deliberately seek out delicious and authentic food wherever I happen to be–from Panama to Rhode Island to Ecuador to New York. Life’s too short not to eat well–but what does “eating well” mean? And as a student and educator, I’ve learned and taught about food justice and food sovereignty, of which the ability to produce and control your own food makes up a large part. As more and more people realize the failures of industrial ...more
The premise of the book is an intriguing one. Each chapter focuses on a different type or category of food--vegetables, honey, meat--and the author describes both the history of how the food was produced in the city, as well as contemporary efforts to continue those traditions. I wish, though, that Shulman had focused a little more on contemporary (and maybe even historical) food politics, which, I think, is a huge driving force behind the work of many gardeners, butchers, brewers, etc., in the ...more
Ryan G
There are times I like to pretend that I have not been living in the Midwest since about 1990. Before that I moved around a lot and lived just about everywhere. I was born on the shore of Lake Superior but have lived in Houston, the Los Angeles area, and gone to school in New Orleans. I've lived in the country and have lived in a city for over 14 years now, of course comparing Wichita, KS to New York, NY is like comparing a dik-dik to a giraffe. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I pretend t ...more
I like to cook and have been trying to get healthier and also learn about food. This is why I decided to check out Eat the City. It sounded like an entertaining read. To be honest I was expecting to also learn about places around the city to eat at like restaurants and I thought I would find recipes. Of course, I did not find recipes but I did learn to have more of an appreciation of the locals in the markets and small shops.

I could tell that Robin really put a lot of work and detail into this
When I left my graduate school program in history three years ago, my reading choices swung wildly from a steady diet of non-fiction to almost exclusively fiction (and YA fiction at that). One exception to that general rule is food writing. I follow food blogs, I read cookbooks, and I have been known to search out obscure magazines and read the latest volume of Best Food Writing on a whim. Robin Shulman’s Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Re ...more
New York is a city that never sleeps, is always changing and never fails to surprise the unwary. A city that is renowned for its finance and tourism industries, you might be forgiven for forgetting that there is an entire food production world operating within the city limits. Author Robin Schulman aims to change that memory lapse.
In this very thick, obvious labour of love, Schulman looks at New Yorkers past and present who each have a particular story to tell as to why they are keeping bees, re
Urban farming. Urban agriculture. A trendy and serious topic. Robin Shulman could have written an essay surfing on the 'hip' factor of the subject. Instead she chose to write about the people who are doing it, were doing it ages ago, people who do it to survive, to live differently.

Eat the City is a very well documented, yet easy to read and engaging essay on the many, many ways agriculture survived, adapted and sometimes thrived in New York City through the histories of sugar, beer, city garde
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Even if you are not from New York, even if you aren’t interested in food, even if the curious title doesn’t intrigue you, even if history doesn’t ring your bell, nevertheless, I urge you to try this book. The author is a Writer. She knows how to Research. And more important, she knows how to Tell a Story.

And what a story she has taken on. The author tells the little stories behind the food in NYC. She makes connections I’d never thought of (Prohibition and WWI, for example). She tracks down veg
I really loved the chapters on beekeepers and community gardens but the rest was so uninteresting to me, I could not get through it. I had to skip most of the meat chapter because it was gross and I'm a vegetarian. There was so much dry history in the sugar chapter, I fell asleep multiple times. The fish chapter bummed me out so hard - the extremely polluted water and poisonous fish, eaten by poor people. Ugh. It was too much. I skipped the wine chapter. I knew I would not be able to muster enou ...more
A nonfiction book about people in New York City today and through history who grow vegetables, butcher, fish, brew beer, make wine, and keep bees. The point of the book is that although NYC seems like the last place on earth where farming/fishing/butchering, etc., can be done (because it is so very built up and urban), there is actually a lot more food production going on than meets the eye.

The book focuses on a number of people and their different pursuits, and some are more or less eccentric.
quick and fun read about 2 things i love--food and new york city. huge topic, but she manages to do it nicely by framing each chapter around a different topic (meat, veggies, sugar, etc). would have preferred slightly more history/less fawning over brooklyn hipsters/locavores, but in the end found it compelling and informative.
This was a really interesting read! I enjoyed how the author structured each chapter: the back-and-forth between a modern-day 'character' (or two) involved with whatever, and the historical info/stories of the whatever in New York. It made it easier to read both sections. Lots of fascinating new information, and I definitely found myself trying to envision what I already know/have seen about NYC in this new light.

The butcher chapter was kind of gross to read as a vegetarian, but I imagine that
Ms. Cutts-Byrne
I won this book in a giveaway and couldn't wait to read it. I also thought my boyfriend (a history buff) would enjoy it. Life got in the way however and I didn't get around to it until about 8 months after I received it! I am so glad I got around to it though! I really enjoyed the writing style and the sections divided by food (for example, one chapter on honey, a separate chapter on meat, etc.) really gave just enough in depth to feel I gained a good knowledge of it- without it being overbearin ...more
Molly the Librarian
Lately, as I begin to move towards growing my own food and becoming less dependent on factory production to sustain myself, I have been gravitating towards books on the subject, like Jonathan Safran Foer’s eye-opening Eating Animals and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. Robin Shulman’s new book Eat the City, which focuses on the local food production of New York City, might be my new favorite in this genre.

In this extensive and entertaining ode to the food producers of NYC, Shulman weaves a c
Shanshad Whelan
I don't read nonfiction works like these more than three or four times a year, mainly because they get me so fascinated and give me so many great ideas for exploring either hobbies, practical applications, research or story ideas that I don't want to read such things one on top of the other.

Eat this city is not an exhaustive history of food in NYC, but rather vignettes of individuals in the city who are connected with food and the raising, catching or producing of it. The author gives each story
What a cool book!

In each chapter, Robin Shulman narrates the path of someone currently producing food in NYC - a beekeeper, a butcher, a Puerto Rican immigrant who grows a cane plant every year - and simultaneously traces the history of that type of urban food production. It's a great story of the food renaissance happening now and - what she set out to find - the rich and varied history it has grown out of.

My one quibble is the low percentage of women whose stories are told. A couple fishers an
Food is my passion. I love reading about food, talking about food and most importantly eating really good food. I'm also a fan of supporting locally produced, 'real' food and combined with the upcoming trip we have planned for New York, I was really looking forward to reading this book.

The book starts out with the honey chapter which from the get go was simultaneously boring and interesting at the same time. The author toggled back and forth between the history of the food and people in the New
Robert Wright
Eat the City is a great look at NYC food history and culture that is handily divided up into >ahem< easily digestible sections by type of food. Covering honey, sugar, beer, and other delicious foodstuffs, the book is informative, evocative, and often craving-inducing.

Robin Shulman manages to walk a delicate balance between sketching the details of the history behind the food and its place in the city and capturing the story of where it stands today. Too much history could have weighted the
My mother grew up on a farm in during the Depression and throughout World War Two. Although at some point my grandparents quit farming and moved into town, much of the rest of the family still farmed and those that didn't gardened. My Great-Uncle Shed raised gorgeous pigs and did all the butchering, sausage-making, smoked pork, and country hams. When I was a little girl, he used to take me to see his pigs and I would scratch between their ears and chuck them under their chins. I knew we were goi ...more
Becky B
Eat the City was a very interesting look at New York City, of both the present and the past, through the lens of food production. Shulman presents each chapter by focusing on a certain type of food (honey, vegetables, meat, sugar, beer, fish, and wine) and relates the story of a present day New Yorker (or a couple New Yorkers) and alternates that story with the history of that food industry in the city. She made the story flow, obviously did a TON of interviews and research, and the reader benef ...more
Michelle Newby
Eat the City: a tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Bee Keepers, Wine Makers, and Brewers Who Built New York
By Robin Shulman
Crown Publishers (Random House), 335 pgs
Rating: 4

"Go on bite the big apple..." Richards and Jagger warned us. I always took this to be a metaphor. Who knew one of the world's megalopolises had such agricultural bounty? Turns out New York has a history of growing and producing any number of crops:
I received an ARC via First Reads, and I'm very glad to have gotten this book -- pleased enough, in fact, that I recommended it to my local library system (Pima County) with the result that they ordered copies for the system.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in culinary history, as well as an interest in New York City. Shulman's book is episodic in structure, as she's essentially presenting a collection of long essays on different aspects of New York City's food history, but it's no
I really don't know much about NYC and I know even less about where people get their food there. But I go there quite a bit and like the culture and know some about museums and whatnot. It seems like an oxymoron to grow and eat food from NYC, even reading this book, where the author describes pollution to the fishing harbor and awful practices of raising livestock there 100 to 200 years ago.

But the way she talks about the history of food within NYC like it's a a big cultural thing, I almost wan
Very interésting read that gives You a "taste" of New York that we seldom hear about. Sometimes her history lessons seemed to drone on for so long I couldnt seem to focus, but other than that I feel like it was a very creative and informative book on the agricultural side of New York then and now. Especially enjoyes the interviews with the people who are Going back to their roots and planting gardens, gathering honey, etc, in "the concrete jungle".
Loved this book!! Awesome read, especially if you have an obsession with food and/or New York City :) Book description: "New York, the city of money, glass, and concrete, seems like no kind of place to produce food. Yet in this smart, funny, and beautifully written book, Robin Shulman places today's urban food production in the context of hundreds of years of history, tracing the changing ways we live and eat."
Cristina Carreon
Mar 28, 2014 Cristina Carreon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies, history buffs, environmentalists
Very informative, historically, about modern food production in big cities. This book has a very narrative quality, especially as the author jumps back and forth through history and in people's lives to discover the secrets about how food production has developed and evolved throughout time. Not as informative as some books in this subject, but I liked the narrative quality to the writing.
Ashland Mystery Oregon
The history of food in New York City through the course of waves of immigrants, from chickens in the backyard to beer in the bathtub and bee hives on the roofs. The narrative moves seamless back and forth between early and contemporary New York and gives voice to the movement to produce good, healthy food in the middle of an urban landscape. It is happening, but it can't be easy. Makes me want to look a little closer, and find a way right here, in my landscape.
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