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Renewing America's Food Traditions

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Renewing America's Food Traditions

Renewing America's Food Traditions

Photo © Molly Watson

The Bottom Line

A catalog of the wide range of foodstuffs, animal breeds, and plant varieties that have fallen from production and the American diet. From success stories like Olympia oysters to items still skirting extinction like the Masked Bobwhite Quail.
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Pros

  • Tempting descriptions of heirloom varieties, heritage breeds, and wild foodstuffs
  • Geographic groupings
  • Clear historical context

Cons

  • Repetive nature of essays
  • Limited recipes
  • Unclear sources and ordering information

Description

  • A must-browse for anyone interested in heirloom varieties, heritage breeds, and wild foodstuffs
  • Broad collection of the rich culinary heritage background of the U.S.
  • Excellent primer on Arc of Taste, Seed Savers, and other organizations dedicated to preserving traditional food ways

Guide Review - Renewing America's Food Traditions

This collection of essays--each one on a different heirloom variety, heritage breed, or wild foodstuff--illustrates the tip of the iceberg of what's lost when regional and dietary variety is allowed to collapse. When pigs are raised for bacon, heritage breeds that could forage for themselves are set aside; when corn is grown for syrup,maize varieties with a range of flavors and uses get lost along the way.

Each essay focuses on a single item, which allows each story to be told in a focused way. This is a very good thing, because many of the stories contain fascinating bits of American history. Unfortunately, the stories are so similar in structure (ingredient was plentiful and valued, something caused its demise, it is now being saved to one degree or another) that the essays can start to seem repetitive if read in succession.

Yet that shouldn't detract from each essay, chock full of thought-provoking information and capable of inspiring internet orders of Red Flint corn hominy and more.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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