An eye-opener for foodies, consumers and social-justice activists alike.

RIPE

THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT TOMATO

A robust tale of how tomatoes get to the table and why some don't taste very good when they get there.

For the denizens of the northern portions of the East Coast outside the growing season, writes former AP foreign correspondent Allen, tomatoes mean the round red things grown in Florida. More precisely: “Roughly 85 percent of the areas east of the Mississippi were served by Florida tomatoes in the October-June months, with about the same percentage in the West buying Mexican products.” Lucky Westerners: Tomatoes from Mexico still taste something like tomatoes, and a small army of plant scientists and agronomists from all over the world have descended on the country to keep the supply coming. Poor Easterners: Tomatoes grown there are “flawed” save for one thing—they fit a fast-food hamburger bun perfectly, and even if they have no taste, they are big and firm and can be sliced quickly by a machine without being turned to pulp. Implicated in that fast-food maw are issues of food justice, about which Allen writes from an unusual firsthand perspective. He ventured into the fields and picked tomatoes with immigrant workers, coming in with about half their yield owing to his inexperience but netting the same amount of pay, with a champion picker earning about $70 for a load of tomatoes that would likely bring $360 in a grocery store. Not a bad profit for an industry supported by such corporate types as “a mild-mannered flak who produced reassuring explanations for why a socially responsible company like Burger King couldn't pay a bit more for its tomatoes.” Ultimately, Allen suggests, the factory system will endure alongside the boutique, heirloom, organic-garden variety of tomato production, with perfection not likely coming from the former.

An eye-opener for foodies, consumers and social-justice activists alike.

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58243-426-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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