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The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food Hardcover – March 16, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
While Hewitt is a proponent of local food and a (very) small-scale subsistence farmer living just a few miles from Hardwick, Vermont, this book is thoughtful, well-researched, and almost stunningly well-written. I read it in less than 24 hours, captivated not quite as much by the story as by the writing. It's delightful, and worth reading for that reason alone.
That said, the story is pretty captivating, too, but it's a blueprint of how to save a town with food in the same way that John McPhee's "Oranges" is about how to grow oranges. (The writing, btw, reminded me a bit of McPhee.) This is an insightful look into a town and the folks who populate it -- some "agripreneurs", some traditional famers, some true radicals, some completely indifferent. It seeks less to see Hardwick as emblematic of what should be done everywhere than it does to tease out some of the complications with local food that many of its advocates gloss over.
Another reviewer slams this book as being a hippie socialist manifesto. I couldn't disagree more. Hewitt explores that side of the local food movement, but ultimately rejects it, coming out in favor of a very capitalistic view of the whole thing. Sure, this whole thing is about evaluating costs other than those that appear on this year's balance sheet, but it's certainly not about doing away with a market-based system. I'm tempted to wonder if that reviewer actually read the book.Read more ›
The main thesis of this book is: Don't Take Food for Granted. Oh, and... Don't Take Your Neighbors for Granted Either. If you care about food or about eating in the years to come: read this book.
I read it as if I was gobbling up the first greens of the spring garden: total joy that the book, the people in the book, the work and ideas in the book, are alive. Hewitt documents, discusses, and dissects how the town and the towns that surround Hardwick, Vermont are reinventing the circle of food. You know, the circle that has happened since the beginning of time where we grow food, eat food, compost food and grow more food from the remains of the old food--all in our own backyard.
I admit, before I read this book I was already well versed in the critical reasons why this country needs to change how we grow, deliver, eat, and engage in the food system (if you don't know already, read the book and find out.) So Hewitt didn't need to convince me, and he isn't really setting out to convince you either. If you think broccoli grows at the supermarket and you are content to think that, this book isn't for you. But if you suspect something is wrong with the whole system where food grown under corporate foot is shipped thousands of miles to feed your family, but you can't really envision another workable system or you can't imagine a workable transition from one system to another--well then, this book is for you.
As much as this book is about food, it is about community.Read more ›
Hewitt's a good writer, but the book is a little short of personality, and it fails to live up to its grandiose title or many of the ideas presented early on. There's no real proof that food has "saved" this town. It's brought some jobs into the area and helped spur many community activities, but most of the benefits from those active in this "movement" have not yet been fully reaped. Some of the most promising concerns, such as the seed company and the cheese producers, are heavily in debt and their success is not fully guaranteed. Most of the town still earns very low pay for the work they do, and suffer the many anxieties of small-town produce and dairy farmers without any huge improvement in their lifestyles. And because many of these promising start-ups are geared towards "export" to big cities where there is a concentration of people who can afford (say) $20 a pound cheese, using this town as a model for local food security - something Hewitt touts - is exaggerated at best.
That aside, there is room for thought in the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a somewhat glib, but lively look at a fascinating local economy in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mr. Fishscales
Very readable. Author has a light, personal touch and still illuminates some of the big issues regarding food sustainability and the loss of skills we need to grow our own food. Read morePublished on May 22, 2014 by Trudy Bagdon
It's good to see such an unbiased recounting of one town's stab at building a local, decentralized food system and all its many facets. Ben keeps it informative, real, and cheeky.Published on April 9, 2014 by Membrain
Wonderful example of community building and economic development utilizing local assets. Inside out rather than outside in community development. Kudos to all involved!Published on January 28, 2014 by Valhillrawls
The book is an offshoot of the media attention on the town of Hardwick in Vermont stemming from a New York Times article from a few years ago, and an attempt to examine the role of... Read morePublished on October 9, 2013 by Mohan Babu K
I live only 14 miles from the town of Hardwick and have witnessed its amazing transformation - in a good way. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by BeeGee
The farm-to-table movement, CSAs, and locavores have become all the rage in recent years. This book takes an honest look at how food changed a small town in the Northeast Kingdom... Read morePublished on July 7, 2013 by lauri_NH
Kind of slow.
Showing that niche food markets and overpriced restaurants will not be a solution to industrial agriculture.No effective local alternative exists. Read more
Hewitt starts by questioning the hype implicit in his title. Did local food really save the town, given that most of its residents, largely working class, still eat mostly... Read morePublished on April 30, 2013 by Erik D. Curren