Reading Together about the food we eat

Aug 22, 2013

Credit Kalamazoo Public Library

Two books on food and farming will be the focus of the annual “Reading Together” program in Kalamazoo next year. The Kalamazoo Public Library has picked The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan and Novella Carpenter’s book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. Both authors will be in Kalamazoo to join the discussion about their books.

“Reading Together” coordinator Karen Santamaria says two books were selected for the 2014 program because food-related issues are complex.

To research her her book, McMillan got undercover jobs at Walmart, an Appleby’s restaurant, and has a farm worker. She wanted to find out how hard it would be to eat well on the kind of money such workers earn. Santamaria says, to no one’s surprise, including her own, McMillan found that it was tough.

Novella Carpenter, who lives in Oakland, California, wrote her book based on her experience as an “urban farmer”. Despite living in an area she describes as a “postcard of urban decay”, Carpenter manages to raise not only fruits and vegetables but also livestock. Santamaria says Farm City delves into a number of issues, including the ethics of killing animals in order to eat them and whether urban farmers can be good neighbors.

Santamaria says she hopes the reading of the two books will spark a community-wide discussion about such issues. She admits that that will be a challenge because there are so many aspects to food issues.

Tracie McMillan will come to Kalamazoo to talk about her book sometime in early March, although Santamaria says the dates of her visit are still being worked out. Carpenter will be in Kalamazoo on April 15-16, 2014. Santamaria says their visits are being arranged in cooperation with the People’s Food Co-op in Kalamazoo, Fair Food Matters, and other community groups.