Stories abound at the local supermarket, but you will have to talk to the food.
Ask any banana, avocado, or mandarin orange. Veness did, and their stories are engrossing. Veness grew up on a Saskatchewan, Canada, farm, so she is no stranger to the farming life. Between chores, she has nurtured a clear, expositional style of writing that is long on facts but lively enough to keep readers’ attention. Take, for instance, tidbits like the skinny on “Naturally raised” beef: “The cow could still have lived in a feedlot”—also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations—and it “probably ate corn, grain and animal by-products and received frequent doses of antibiotics and growth hormones.” That’s natural? A chicken raised in a CAFO “may spend its entire life in a cage smaller than a microwave.” Veness carefully explains such practices as permaculture, no-till zones, rice-duck farming, community and urban gardens, and biomimicry: “creating technologies to mimic processes in nature.” Consider “the RoboBee, a miniature robot [scientists] hope can pollinate crops if we lose the bees” to colony collapse disorder or insecticide use. Bright photos and a lively layout enhance the package. This account of the secret lives of groceries comes with a special grace note: “Did you know that digging your hands into a garden bed has been scientifically proven to increase happiness?”
Readers will want to go out and get some dirt under their fingernails. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)