Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Recipe for America

Sweet Onion Glaze

5 lbs local, organic Walla Walla Sweet onions from your nearest farmer's market
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Peel and coarsely chop the onions.
2. Put the onions through a juicer, if you have one. If not, puree them in a blender or food processor and strain the juice through cheesecloth or a fine sieve.
3. Combine onion juice, salt, and olive oil into a pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
4. Turn heat to medium, and reduce the until the liquid reaches a honey-like color and consistency.

This intensely flavored, sweet yet savory glaze is wonderful drizzled over steamed vegetables, spread over roast or broiled chicken or fish, as a salad dressing, or as a flavor enhancer for soups and stews.

In much the same way as the above recipe uses the technique of reduction to concentrate the unparalleled flavor of our local Walla Walla Sweet onions, Jill Richardson's book Recipe for America does the same for issues surrounding America's food system.

The food system is incredibly complex, and the issues surrounding it are no less complex. The food system touches health and health care, environmental protection, global warming, sustainability, economic security, and even national security. As Rousseau said, any society is only three meals away from revolution. Look what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

You could spend a long time reading books about how food relates to each of those issues. Or you could just read Recipe for America. In this surprisingly slim volume, Richardson has distilled each issue into a compact form. She spells out each issue's essential background, why it matters, and the consensus within the food movement of what should be done to address it.

This is not a book packed with wild, new policy ideas. This is a book that presents you with the best thinking from across the entire spectrum of health, environmental, agricultural, and economic experts as to how to create a food system that won't kill us. Richardson does, from time to time, augment these with her own ideas in areas where the consensus isn't so clear, but by and large Recipe for America is the concentrated wisdom of people who have spent their careers researching, thinking, and advocating for these issues.

Richardson has given us a thick, flavorful honey glaze, wonderful to drizzle over conversations, news reports, letters to the editor, and the occasional Congressperson. If you read only one book about the food system, make it Recipe for America. Oh, and make some of that Sweet Onion Glaze, too. It's really tasty.

And don't forget to join NPI and Living Liberally this Friday at FX McRory's in Pioneer Square:

Book signing and social mixer with Jill Richardson
Fx McRory's
406 Occidental Avenue S in Seattle's Pioneer Square
Friday, September 4th, 2009 at 8 PM
Sponsored by the Northwest Progressive Institute and Living Liberally
Open to the media and the public


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