Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists by Katherine Leiner

Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists
Katherine Leiner
Sunrise Lane Productions (2010)
ISBN 9781603582889
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/10)

I moved to the United States as an adult and even after more than a decade of living here, there are still things that baffle me. One of those, and probably the one that I talk about most often, is the relationship most Americans seem to have with their food. Everything needs to be bigger, shinier and “better value,” but so very few people seem to be concerned about where their food comes from and how it was raised. Do not get me wrong, I am not knocking convenience and I am also not preaching about being ultra-green and fanatically locavore-ish, but I sure do miss going to the market most days. Those nearly daily trips to the market, always on foot and with my basket, were something to look forward to, and talking to the grannies who grew the best lettuce in their backyards in the suburbs and the old man who sold the best pickled turnip anywhere in the world were always a highlight for me.

I have to admit that I have seen many positive changes in this direction recently, and the absolutely gorgeous “Growing Roots” by Katherine Leiner showcases them beautifully. There is a lot to like about this book, starting from the purely aesthetic beauty of the photos by Andrew Lipton, who managed to catch a variety of precious moments on film. Then there are the stories, written with so much passion and such great respect for the work the people we get introduced to in the book are involved in. The author’s admiration for the passion and purpose of this fascinating line-up of sustainable farmers, cooks and food activists shone through in every single story. If that would not be enough for you, the book also contains some 150 recipes, ranging from incredibly simple to quite complex, but all of them sounding delicious, tempting and actually doable.

The stories introduce us to a vast array of people who are trying to make a change in fields as diverse as cooking raw food, producing compost, fishing for oysters, raising poultry or pigs, growing herbs, keeping bees, practicing naturopathic medicine, running a farmers market, producing biodiesel, making organic ice-cream and many more.

“Growing Roots” is a book for anybody who wants to know more about what’s on his or her plate, for anybody who’s curious about the newer trends in food and for anybody who wishes to respect our planet more. It’s a book to make you dream and yearn and slightly envy places like California or NYC for their abundant farmers markets and other food outlets. Hopefully, it is also a book that will inspire more of us to do what is right.

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