Foodtopia: Communities in Pursuit of Peace, Love & Homegrown Food

David R. Godine. Aug. 2022. 344p. ISBN 9781567927306. $28.95. GARDENING
In this book combining journalism and history, Kelley (A Field Guide to Other People’s Trees) traces the philosophical and cultural movements that led to notable utopian experiments in the United States. A new generation of younger people pursuing utopian food system dreams has emerged out of food writing from the early 2000s such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, and while Kelley starts here, her larger project is an examination of the desires around food of previous utopian movements in American history. She also looks at what s particularly resonant about a given landscape or natural environment. As a Maine-based writer, Kelley naturally focuses on New England, but also looks at California’s hippie food movements, among others. This book makes the case that food is central to the success of utopian movements—those that assume food will take care of itself are doomed to fail. Kelley writes that wider change has also come from food systems that include mentoring and agricultural training and are deeply embedded in local cultural values and needs (e.g., the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program).
VERDICT Essential reading on the state of local and organic growing and eating, and a useful addition to the history of American utopianism.
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