Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Food for Thought: an Indiana Harvest by David Hoppe & Kristin Hess

Title: Food for Thought: an Indiana Harvest
Author: David Hoppe
Photographer: Kristin Hess
Publication Date: August 2012
Publisher: Indiana Humanities with IBJ Book Publishing
Source: Indiana Humanities
Format: Paperback available from Indiana Humanities or Amazon 

I didn't think a whole lot about my food until I was pregnant. Then I wanted to put the best food into my body that I could so my baby could grow her best. Now that I have two girls, I want our family to continue to eat the healthiest food that we can. For me this has meant learning about our food sources from the way the vegetables are grown to how the animals are treated and the processing that goes in to everything. It has meant searching out farmers' markets and discovering organic food sources in the area. Right now it means we get a great produce bin delivered to our front door every other week and I'm really hoping to add a local meat pickup to our menu as well.

When I saw that Indiana Humanities was looking for bloggers to help get the word out about Food for Thought: an Indiana Harvest, I contacted them right away. After all what better way to learn about more local food sources than through a book that was completed only after spending nearly two years talking to people in Indiana about food. Honestly, this book far exceeded my expectations. It is an absolutely fantastic portrait of food in Indiana mainly because it isn't really even about the food. This book is about the people of Indiana and their passion for food.

When you think of food in Indiana, what comes to mind? Corn. That is probably what most people think of. Did you know that Indiana hosts the National Maple Syrup Festival? Neither did I but now I want to go there! I also learned how much duck is produced in Indiana, about Indiana pickles, family run farms, and family run restaurants. I learned that Clabber Girl and Red Gold Tomatoes both call Indiana home and that if I get Tyson brand pork at the grocery store it might have come from an Indiana pig.

I think the thing that makes this book really special though is the variety of stories it contains. There are stories from people who have been farming the same land for generations, people just starting out, restaurant owners, people running breweries and distilleries, big agricultural businesses, and everything in between. The stories are told in their own words so there is a richness to the book that would have been lost if it had been written in another format. The photographs capture these faces and you get that sense of sitting down with people and chatting about food, farming, family, and feeding people.

I am so glad that I have gotten to experience this book! It is probably the most interesting non-fiction book that I have read this year. If you know anyone interested in food or Indiana I highly recommend Food for Thought: an Indiana Harvest. Proceeds from the book also help fund humanities programs for people in Indiana. Discover more at IndianaHumanities.org.

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