Review of “Rebuilding the Foodshed”
I’ve just finished reading “Rebuilding the Foodshed” by Phillip Ackerman-Leist. For me, the next best thing to actually doing something is researching how to do it. While we work on making Tanglefoot habitable, I’m reading, learning new skills, and dreaming.
For a while now, I’ve had this sort of inchoate idea of living a simpler life, with a slower pace, and a deeper connection to people, community, and the earth. I want to grow my own food, raise my own meats, and start a small agri-business that can provide a livable income. I hope to meet like-minded people along the way. I’m just not very informed about how to make this daydream a reality. Hence the need to read.
Content of the Book
I think I picked a fairly complex book to start out with. Although Ackerman tries to simplify a very complex subject, it’s clear he makes the assumption that his audience is at least passingly familiar with the topic. I’m not, so it was a challenging read at times. I was attracted to the “How to” in the title of this book; however, this is not really a how to book. Instead, it’s an overview of our current food delivery system, and the problems inherent within it.
The book contains three sections; Dilemmas, Drivers for Rebuilding Local Food Systems, and New Directions. The author does present several models of food distribution that are being implemented to try to solve the myriad issues that surround what we put on our table, and how it got there. He also discusses, at great length, the difficulty in defining “local” food systems, and the challenges of making a truly local system efficient.
What I Learned
I found the chapters covering the history of how our food distribution evolved very interesting. It’s astonishing just how far food can travel before it ever shows up at the local grocery store. It’s also a little scary how much energy (including fossil fuels, people, time, etc) goes into this process. All for food that is actually less nutritious than what we could grow in our own backyards.
I found the last section “New Directions” to be closer to what I was looking for when I picked this book up; methods I can use to address the “food security” (new lingo, there) of my family and possibly my community. These include growing your own food, wild-crafting, and sourcing what you can’t grow locally.
After reading, I spent some time researching what is available in or around Oklahoma City, and was very pleased to see there is a lot, including a food co-op with an online order system and pickup sites throughout the state. There is also another site, OKGrown.com which lists a ton of Farmer’s Markets, and a program called “Made in Oklahoma” that supports Oklahoma agri-businesses. I also found a great many resources to help wanna-be homesteaders like me be successful.
Overall, this was a book worth reading; it helped give clarity to an issue I was vaguely aware of, and reinforced my desire to become more self-sufficient.