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The Town That Food Saved (PDF) by Ben Hewitt – Kindle ePUB, DOC and Epub Download

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Over the past 3 years Hardwick Vermont a typical hardscrabble farming community of 3000 residents has jump started its economy and redefined its self image through a local self sustaining food system unlike anything else in America Even as the recent financial downturn threatens to cripple small businesses and privately owned farms a stunning n. The title is a misnomer Hardwick VT has not been saved by food but this agricultural community has spawned some nascent organic food companies and good for them I enjoyed the personal stories and the exploration of some of the controversies surrounding a couple of those businesses getting some good press such as a a 2008 NYT piece and trying to establish themselves as community change agents to the annoyance of some of the established organic farmers No new local food system has yet been set up since the locals are not the primary consumers of the end products The bulk of the revenue seems to come from outside the region and none of the new businesses have yet achieved profitability Still these businesses have value in that they are attempting to prove the economic viability of providing organic foodWhile I enjoyed the slice of rural life aspect of the book I really did not enjoy the writing especially during the first 50 pages The author s style is freuently clumsy and he spends too much time pontificating on the end of life as we know it and is too focused on the media attention the town received for a short period of time While reading this book I met a mathematical forecaster for an options firm whose job entails removing the media noise to accurately identify actual business and environmental trends He stated that in the short term it s always the noise that is most dominant This book had too much noise obscuring the actual trends

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The Town That Food Saved

Nd to loan each other capital Hardwick is fast becoming a model for other communities to replicate its success Author Ben Hewitt presents the captivating story of a small town coming back to life The Town That Food Saved is narrative nonfiction at its best full of colorful characters and grounded in an idea that will revolutionize the way we ea. I think I enjoyed this book in no small part because I m familiar with a lot of the organizations and places Hewitt details in the book Pete s Greens Jasper Hill Cheese Vermont Soy and the town of Hardwick in general It s also dovetailing with a debate my own small Vermont town is having over whether to allow a big box store to move in and force a total rethink of traffic patterns Let me back up I agree with other reviewers who have stated that the title of this book is misleading it is in reality a series of poignant vignettes profiles of places and people engaged in food and farming in rural Vermont interspersed with the author s sometimes ham handed attempts at talking through sustainability in a local food movement Because as Hewitt makes clear Hardwick didn t find vitality in local food so much as wrestle with a discussion between long time traditional farmers newcomers with weird soy based ideas and Vermonters not engaged in farming at all and struggling to feed their families anything at all The vignettes are delightful Hewitt is a vivid and descriptive place teller and the subjects of his profiles come to life warts and all There s a whole chapter on soil fertility that is one of the most engaging pieces of anything I ve read in years But unfortunately Hewitt himself struggles to unpack the local food sustainability growth economic access situation unfolding in Hardwick And to be fair he admits he struggles with it but oh boy the struggles They go on for days and sometimes Hewitt flips back and forth on a topic within the space of a few pages like when he decries Claire s restaurant for serving 12 entrees too pricey for a town where the average salary was in 2009 14K and then decries Hardwick for not accepting the challenge of prioritizing to eat 12 entrees and then settles on dour disapproval of the restaurant s pricing It s confusing and the wool gathering in this vein goes on for a very long time I wish he d brought in an economist or someone whose area really is food sustainability systems and let them do at least half the wool gatheringBut I really liked meeting all the farms in and around Hardwick I liked thinking about local food systems with Hewitt Hewitt farms over in Cabot and I wanted to hear about his farm as well as all the others and I m still mad that Jasper Hill has stopped producing Constant Bliss

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Umber of food based businesses have grown in the region Vermont Soy Jasper Hill Farm Pete's Greens Patchwork Farm Bakery Apple Cheek Farm Claire's Restaurant and Bar and Bonnieview Farm to name only a few The mostly young entrepreneurs have created a network of community support; they meet regularly to share advice euipment and business plans a. When I read non fiction books I m accustomed to two different kinds of approaches 1 the memoir where someone tells their insider experience with a subject where they re expected to be biased and 2 the journalist where the person researches a subject and forms an opinion based on what they ve found Ben Hewitt seems to approach The Town that Food Saved from the point of view of a journalist I believe that the book grew out of an article that he wrote for the now defunct Gourmet magazine but he s such an insider in the food community of Hardwick Vermont that it feels as if an outright memoir would have been a better approachBelieve me I don t broker any notions that Michael Pollan is impartial when he writes about food Over the last few decades he s written about little else and his opinions come loud and clear both in what he says in his books and his choice of subject material On the other hand he s not a peer with the slaughterhouse managers or restaurant chefs he interviews Ben Hewitt is a peer with the small time farmers living in and around Hardwick In some ways it feels as if Tom Stearns the cheerleader of Hardwick s food movement found out that Hewitt could write and appointed him to get the word out about what s going on in Northern Vermont The story itself is pretty engaging and I love some of the character profiles but it feels weird to be writing journalistic character profiles about the guy who used to be your high school bus driverIf you re really into reading books about sustainable communities or revamping the food system in America then I think Hewitt s book is worth reading But if you haven t read The Omnivore s Dilemma or Fast Food Nation or Animal Vegetable Miracle yet start there first


10 thoughts on “The Town That Food Saved

  1. says:

    Hate “Big Food” and sick of shopping at the Big Y? Dream about being a locavore or an agripreneur if that’s Greek to you check out a Foodie dictionary? Wish you could eat at a restaurant on Main Street Your SA that gets 80% of its ingredients from sources within 15 miles? This book is for youIt’s the story of one town that’s doing what other towns can only dream of doing And if Ben Hewitt’s book goes as big as say a

  2. says:

    The title is a misnomer Hardwick VT has not been saved by food but this agricultural community has spawned some nascent organic food companies

  3. says:

    I didn't enjoy this book I don't need any convincing that local decentralized food production is a better alternative than shipping produce 1000 miles and I was interested to read about a small town that's only a few hours from where I live in NY State But despite a cast of very colorful characters the book was painfully dull at times and I

  4. says:

    If I had to sum this book up in one word that word would be meh The author sets out to describe how the small Vermont community of Ha

  5. says:

    When I read non fiction books I'm accustomed to two different kinds of approaches 1 the memoir where someone tells their insider experience with a subject where they're expected to be biased and 2 the journalist where the person researches a subject and forms an opinion based on what they've found Ben Hewitt seems to approach The Town that Food Saved from the point of view of a journalist I believe that the book grew out of an

  6. says:

    I did like the description of the modern agriculture lifestyle in its many forms because I think it's something that people need to reconnect with I think the thing that threw me a bit off this book is that the author kept on referring to the exceptionalism of his town in Vermont I live in Durham which was named by Bon Appetit as the foodies

  7. says:

    First off I did like this book and it was interesting to hear of a little rural community coming back to life through localfoodagetc T

  8. says:

    I think I enjoyed this book in no small part because I'm familiar with a lot of the organizations and places Hewitt details in the book Pete's Greens Jasper Hill Cheese Vermont Soy and the town of Hardwick in general It's also dovetailing with a debate my own small Vermont town is having over whether to allow a big box store to move in and force a total rethink of traffic patterns Let me back up I agree with o

  9. says:

    After reading The Town that Food Saved How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food I felt that the subtitle was a appropriate title than the actual title Indeed it did not seem as though food saved the community of Hardwick Vt Rather food seemed to be a common thread that led to the community being revitalizedBut I digress It's a book worthy of a read especially if like me you wonder whether a true local food movement would work in the

  10. says:

    To understand the effect this book had on me I suppose it makes sense to give some context After much deliberation and internal struggle I recently made a decision to return to graduate school in California to stu