An illuminating journey through and behind the grocery store, which, “perhaps more than any other mechanism of change…has...

GROCERY

THE BUYING AND SELLING OF FOOD IN AMERICA

Cookbook author and food writer Ruhlman (In Short Measures: Three Novellas, 2015, etc.) explores the evolution of the American grocery store and how it has affected what we eat in this country.

The author uses two of his Midwestern hometown grocery chains, Heinen’s and Fazio’s, and his memories of his father’s love of food and grocery shopping as the foundation for this engaging narrative. While he notes that many other writers have covered the history of the grocery store, the broken industrial food production system, and the nutritional benefits of various foods, Ruhlman delivers “a reported reflection on the grocery store in America, and an expression of my own love, anger, opinions and concerns over what is in them, how it got there, and what it all means.” He believes that grocery stores are more than just a place to buy food; they reflect both positive and negative aspects of many areas of American culture. His lively story combines personal anecdotes and family memories with accounts of his travels around the country and interviews with various grocery store owners, medical professionals, and suppliers—e.g., Brian and Kathleen Bean, the founders and owners of Idaho’s Lava Lakes Land & Livestock, purveyors of top-notch lambs. The author also talked to food entrepreneurs working on new ways of growing our food, such as Freight Farms, a company that converts shipping containers into greenhouses. Ruhlman delves into the importance of hydroponics for growing produce, and he tracks the evolution of the prepared food craze and the importance of learning to cook and enjoy real, nutritious food. The author sprinkles in just enough pertinent references to relevant food-related titles to keep the narrative moving along at a quick pace.

An illuminating journey through and behind the grocery store, which, “perhaps more than any other mechanism of change…has the power to shape how we raise and produce food in America.”

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2386-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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