Shelah's Reviews > The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt
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May 04, 2010

it was ok

When I read non-fiction books, I'm accustomed to two different kinds of approaches: 1) the memoir, where someone tells their insider experience with a subject (where they're expected to be biased), and 2) the journalist, where the person researches a subject and forms an opinion based on what they've found. Ben Hewitt seems to approach The Town that Food Saved from the point of view of a journalist (I believe that the book grew out of an article that he wrote for the now-defunct Gourmet magazine) but he's such an insider in the food community of Hardwick, Vermont, that it feels as if an outright memoir would have been a better approach.

Believe me, I don't broker any notions that Michael Pollan is impartial when he writes about food. Over the last few decades, he's written about little else, and his opinions come loud and clear both in what he says in his books, and his choice of subject material. On the other hand, he's not a peer with the slaughterhouse managers or restaurant chefs he interviews. Ben Hewitt is a peer with the small-time farmers living in and around Hardwick. In some ways, it feels as if Tom Stearns, the cheerleader of Hardwick's food movement, found out that Hewitt could write and appointed him to get the word out about what's going on in Northern Vermont. The story itself is pretty engaging, and I love some of the character profiles, but it feels weird to be writing journalistic character profiles about the guy who used to be your high school bus driver.

If you're really into reading books about sustainable communities or revamping the food system in America, then I think Hewitt's book is worth reading. But if you haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma or Fast Food Nation or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yet, start there first.
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message 1: by Foxthyme (new) - added it

Foxthyme Thanks for the suggestions!


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