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Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat Paperback – October 21, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


In the wake of destructive factory farming practices and a gradual disconnect between people and the origins of their food, many are turning to sustainable local farming methods to reconnect with land and food sources, encourage food stability and independence (particularly in poor urban communities), support community growth, and utilize cities. As a result, a number of small non-profits and family farms are revitalizing farming for the next generation. In this meticulously researched, fascinating book, Cobb, an expert on food system planning, interviews these innovators to explore where we are as a nation in terms of food systems, where we’re going, and what kinds of changes can be enacted to get us there, all in an accessible, reader-friendly tone. Cobb (The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food) not only provides theory, but also includes tips for backyard gardening, raising urban livestock, and getting involved in community gardening. After finishing this immersive, inspiring, and educational book, readers will feel empowered to address the food systems in their lives and encourage a more responsible approach to consumption and production.
Publishers Weekly (Reviewed on: 09/12/2011)

"This is one-third chicken soup for the soul, one-third chicken poop for the soil, and three thirds great stories of real people doing positive practical and transformative work with food."  -- Wayne Roberts, Canadian food policy analyst and writer, former manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council


In the last decade we have seen the budding efforts to transform our food system emerge into a full blown movement. As complicated and multi-faceted as the food system it seeks to change, the movement takes many shapes and differing strategies to “reclaim our food.”  With a keen ear and thoughtful insight, Tanya Denckla Cobb not only showcases some of the most promising work, she explores the motivations and theoretical models that are leading the charge to fundamentally and permanently transform the way we grow and eat food. (Charlie Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; 2011 edition (October 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603427996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603427999
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Tanya Denckla Cobb is a writer, professional environmental mediator, and teacher of food system planning at the University of Virginia. She has worked at the grassroots, co-founding a community forestry nonprofit and mediating for community mediation centers. At the state level, she facilitated the birth of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute and the Virginia Food System Council, and served as Executive Director of the Virginia Urban Forest Council.

While working for the federal government in the early 1980's, Tanya specialized in international labor rights and served on U.S. delegations to the U.N. International Labor Organization in Geneva. Since 1997, she has worked at the UVa Institute for Environmental Negotiation where her work involves facilitating and mediating a broad range of community and environmental issues. She is passionate about bringing people together to discover common ground and create solutions for mutual gain.

In 1999, she co-founded and continues to serve as teaching faculty for the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. She also teaches a seminar for the National Preservation Institute on negotiation and conflict for cultural and natural resource managers. And, in 2004, she pioneered with UVa professor Timothy Beatley a series of graduate-level courses on food system planning.

At home, she enjoys the restorative energy of gardening and cooking from her garden. She lives in Virginia, and is the author of "Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement is Changing What We Eat" (2011) and "The Gardener's A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food" (2004), which is a completely updated and redesigned version of her two earlier organic gardening books (also sold on Amazon).

Photo credit: Dan Addison, University of Virginia

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BWC8T on October 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Tanya Denckla Cobb has a gift for artfully documenting stories that desperately need to be told. Her latest book, "Reclaiming Our Food," is a collection of stories, insights, lessons in a food system gone awry and the inspirational groups and individuals who are developing creative solutions.

Cobb feels that there is something inherently democratic about the food movement. "It's democracy in action," she says, "people vote with their dollars, create control over an important part of their life, and take ownership in their community." Simply put: "Democracy is happening in our food system."

But Cobb's book is far from a rosy-tinted adulation of food projects. Rather, she describes it as "inspirational and practical." Inspirational, from the incredible stories of success and ingenuity. Practical, however, from Cobb's insistence on asking tough questions and distilling her interviews down to true "lessons learned."

In surveying the food system literature prior to writing the book, Cobb was surprised by the lack of a consolidated "lessons learned" text for food projects. In research, interviews, and site visits, Cobb's research team went below the surface, hearing about hardships and advice that food project veterans would give to future generations.

The features in the book have been meticulously documented, and Cobb is quick to reference the contributions of many book supporters, including seven students, U.Va. faculty, including Urban & Environmental Planning professor Tim Beatley, and numerous food experts from around the nation. Though the text is detailed, Cobb's storytelling weaves tales that are readable and illuminating, drawing upon research, as well as first-hand interviews and meetings with food projects from around the country.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Diane Hoffmaster on November 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
As a society, we have become far too uninvolved and unintereseted in the state of our nations's food supply...but that is slowly starting to change. My local Publix now has pictures of the farms and farmers where some of their produce is coming from. WHY? Because we are starting to need to see the face behind the food. Maybe we are concerned about food poisoning outbreaks or maybe we worry that in times of severe disaster we will be left with no way to feed ourselves. Whatever the cause, I found it interesting to note in the forward of this book that the number of farmer's markets has increased 114% over the last decade! And the number of people with home gardens has skyrocketed!

This book is a collection of stories put together to show you what CAN be done to change the way our food system works. There are stories of community gardens and community supported aggricultural programs. There are cases of individual people taking on local government policies that make raising your own animals for food next to impossible. And there are examples of non profit agencies that have worked hard to preserve the heritage and traditions of native people.

I really enjoyed the sections on Farm to School programs and Farm to Table Restaurants. It is a great idea to change the food you yourself are eating but to change the way an entire school district or restaurant chain looks at food is an amazing challenge. There are several success stories and hopefully more to come.

These are not just 'look what we did' stories! Each one has a section at the end that talks about 'lessons learned' so that if YOU want to try and follow in their footsteps, you will have an easier time than they did! And the photos included in this book are just beautiful!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By dewey dragescu on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
there is a difference in the local food business -- as there is in every other business -- between those who are deeply committed to being a part of something they believe in, long-term, and those who are hopping on the bandwagon or just trying to co-opt a trend for their own benefit.

tanya denckla cobb is in the former category, and this book is a thorough, extensively-researched, deeply investigated exposé of the local food movement at the grassroots level.

for anyone trying to understand whether the local food movement is just a fad or whether it represents a true change in the way we eat, this book is well worth reading, following up on, and then using as a resource again and again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cheri A. Lucking on October 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Reading Tanya Denckla Cobb's Book "RECLAIMING OUR FOOD" just brought back a rush of happy memories. The joy of gardening runs deep. My grandparents had a vegetable garden in our backyard. I remember going outside with my Grandpa and turning over the dirt to get ready for the planting season. Every year I knew what was coming 1st, Grandpa helping me get over my fear of worms! He'd pick up a worm, and place it in my hand explaining to me all the great things worms did for the garden. Squirming and screeching he'd calm my nerves and we'd get on with business. Once the garden grew Grandma would pick fresh produce for our supper every night. I married a man that loves to garden. My husband Peter author of Santa and The Little Teddy Bear: Bilbos Adventures Santa and The Little Teddy Bear 2011 INDIE Holiday Book Winner has created a lovely English Garden in our backyard. We grow our produce in pots on our deck away from the cute bunnies that have a place in our hearts and garden too. We are always amazed at what we can produce in this space on our deck in pots. No matter how large or small of space you have you can grow your own produce. I will us Tanya's book Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eatas a guide and know that it will spark some great ideas. Great resource! No one should go hungry, back to basics.
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