ENDANGERED EATING

AMERICA'S VANISHING FOODS

A tasty sojourn through the landscape of America’s endangered foods, served with a scoop of energy and a dash of hope.

A food historian argues that preserving the richness of what we eat is part of recognizing our cultural legacy.

Good food is one of the great pleasures of life, notes Lohman, and a tragedy of modern times is that the development of agribusiness corporations threatens to reduce the variety on our plates. In her 2016 book, Eight Flavors, the author explored America’s culinary history; here, she comes at the subject from another angle, traveling around the country to investigate traditional foods that are returning from the edge of extinction. As her guide, she uses an online catalog called the Ark of Taste, produced by an organization called Slow Food International, which is dedicated to preserving food diversity. She finds plenty of optimistic stories, such as the orchardists keeping apple types alive and the breeders of longhorn cattle, which have gone out of fashion with beef producers. Many of the foods that interest Lohman have roots in Indigenous cultures, and the story of the displacement of traditional Hawaiian culture to grow sugar cane has a tragic aspect. The author is willing to go deep into the rituals of traditional food preparation; for example, she happily gutted salmon caught by Native American methods on the Pacific coast and helped butcher a Navajo-Churro lamb. Along the way, she looks at the legacy of wild rice, the origin of peanut farming, and the resurgence of the Buckeye chicken. At the end of each chapter, Lohman includes recipes of the foods featured, and they all sound delicious. The result is a package that is enjoyable, entertaining, and meaningful. The author encourages readers to begin their own journey of culinary discovery: “The secret of the Ark is that you don’t have to travel very far at all….There’s probably a rare food practically in your backyard.”

A tasty sojourn through the landscape of America’s endangered foods, served with a scoop of energy and a dash of hope.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781324004660

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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