From Publishers Weekly
The rise of commercial farming and processed foods has given shoppers a tremendous variety to choose from, but this convenience has also fostered a "covenant of ignorance" among consumers and manufacturers, historian Vileisis (Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America's Wetlands) posits in this meticulous chronicle of the culinary disconnect. Persuasively arguing that manufacturers have prevented shoppers from knowing "unsavory details" about their foods and shielded producers from inquiry and public scrutiny, Vileisis highlights key events in this evolution. The booming populations of major cities, a reliance on servants or others to prepare meals and the ease and speed of rail transport were early contributors, she asserts, with the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars forever changing the way Americans bought and consumed food. Though the chapters covering developments since the 1970s feel rushed, Vileisis's well-researched treatise will give those interested in local and organic foods, food processing and American culinary culture plenty to chew on.
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"Vileisis's well-researched treatise will give those interested in local and organic foods, food processing and American culinary culture plenty to chew on."
"This book...gave me encouragement to keep on doing what I can to make our food world a happier, wiser, more truly sustainable one."
(Deborah Madison Real Simple)
"Kitchen Literacy provides a cautionary tale of how we got so far off the eaten path in the first place."
"Kitchen Literacy brings home just how essential it is for eaters to cultivate knowledge of their food."
"Vileisis's well-researched treatise will give those interested in local and organic foods, food processing and American culinary culture plenty to chew on…"
"Vileisis gathers it all in one place, weaving a clear, easy-to-read tapestry whose meaning is plain by the end of the book: you are what you eat, so think about what you've been eating… This important and eye-opening book uncovers the machinery behind the modern food industry…"
"It is no exaggeration to say that the single most vital connection any of us has to the natural world is the food we eat. And yet the paradox of modern life is that over the past century, most of us have become profoundly ignorant about where our food comes from and the myriad ways it affects us. In her wonderful new book Kitchen Literacy, Ann Vileisis explains how we came to forget so much about the food we eat...and how much we gain by remembering the journeys it makes to reach our tables."
(William Cronon author of Changes in the Land and Nature's Metropolis)
"Kitchen Literacy goes to the heart of our disconnection from one of the most vital and intimate aspects of our lives—how we feed ourselves and our families. Accessible, entertaining, and enlightening, Ann Vileisis's new book has given us the historical context to understand what we have lost and how to bring food back to where it belongs—at the center of our families and communities."
(Michael Ableman farmer and author of Fields of Plenty)
"A 'must-read' for modern-day consumers in the post-family farm era."
(Midwest Book Review)
"[Kitchen Literacy by Ann Vileisis] performs a valuable service in reminding readers that we were not always so clueless when it came to making food choices."
(The Washington Post)