“How Now Shall We Eat?”
A review of
The Town that Food Saved:
How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food.
By Ben Hewitt.
Review by Dave Swanson.
The problem with reading books about sustainability, ecology, and responsible agriculture, is that the authors seem irresistibly drawn to recitation of “the litany”: that long, horrible, tragic list of ways that we humans are destroying things on our world. It’s as if reading this litany one more time will push readers over the edge to finally admit that, “Yes, western industry and the lifestyles that make it necessary are doing so much harm in the world that I am NOW determined to make a change (trumpets please)! I fear the litany has become a dirge, inspiring nobody.
Thankfully, Ben Hewitt has resisted the list! In his book The Town that Food Saved about the burgeoning food economy in Hardwick, Vermont, Hewitt gives us a story both timely and laden with import for our food crisis. I say story because that is what it is. The book, instead of introducing readers to issues, introduces us to people. The cast of characters involved with the food economy in Hardwick and the narrative outlining the evolution of the dynamics between them captured my attention and created a human context in which Hewitt could explore the questions about the food economy. Of course, some of the statistics and issues frequently appearing in the litany do appear in his book but it is as a contextual aside to the primary task he pursues: Finding out if the changes in the food economy in Hardwick are as beneficial to that community as those driving the movement claim.