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Freshly Picked: Amazing Food Books

Freshly Picked: A Locavore’s Love Affair with BC’s Bounty, by Jane Reid, is an amusing romp through the fruits and vegetables grown in the varied soils and landscapes of British Columbia. The author covers the fascinating history and oddball growing habits of the plants we eat, and includes personal stories of love and affection plus recipes and tips to enjoy the harvest. “Packed with informative, humorous stories that celebrate the fruits and vegetables grown in local fields and orchards, Freshly Picked is an ode to the joys of eating in season,” according to Edible Vancouver & Wine Country Magazine.

Author Jane Reid continues to read and write about eating and growing local food. She is constantly inspired by others. Her favourite books (for now) are described below. 

*****

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

It was the flavour of local harvests that first made me a locavore, but now I know there are multiple reasons to seek out food grown nearby —and this book was one of the first that told me so. The authors offer engaging personal accounts of the unexpected and thought-provoking consequences of eating food sourced within one hundred miles of their home for an entire year. The thrill and frustrations of the hunt (humour helped—but not always), the joys of sharing a delicious meal with those we love, and an increased appreciation for where and how we get our food fill the pages. Now a food writing classic at the ripe old age of 12 (it was first published in 2007), this book is required reading for anyone who cares about local food.

*

Locavore: From Farmers’ Fields to Rooftop Gardens—How Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat,  by Sarah Elton

“It all started with a cookie” is the first sentence in this book, and that was enough to draw me in and keep me reading from start to finish. Filled with valid concerns about our food supply and good news stories that are making a difference in Canada, this well-researched book was alarming, illuminating and hopeful. I am inspired by authors like Sarah Elton, one of Canada’s best food writers, who encourage us to truly think about what we eat. My next read by Sarah Elton? Her book Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet where she goes beyond Canada and takes on the world. 

*

Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable-Forward Recipes, by Ricardo Larrivée

The attractive cover of this brand new release grabbed my attention as it is delightfully similar to my book. A look inside and I was marvelling at novel combinations, original presentations and of course, gorgeous photos. Most recipes feature harvests from the same season in one dish and that was the clincher for me. Meat recipes are included, but, as with the updated Canada Food Rules and our changing eating habits, vegetables play a deservedly starring role. My Quebec childhood left me with a special appreciation for the food culture of that province—a fondness that this book happily confirms and nourishes.

*

Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life, by Brian Brett

This charming book describes the poignant, joyful and at times troubled relationship between the author and the farming life he has lived for almost two decades. He writes eloquently about the emotional connection he has to his land on (mostly) idyllic Salt Spring Island, the antics of the domesticated and wild creatures that surround him and the challenges and successes in his veggie patch and orchard. Gems of farming wisdom dot the narrative while the author mourns the weakening link between urban life and the land we rely on to feed us both physically and spiritually. I loved this gentle book with its important message to pay attention to the miraculous natural world around us.

*

Out of the Orchard: Recipes for Fresh Fruit from the Sunny Okanagan, by Julie Van Rosendaal

My first cookbook by Julie Van Rosendaal, Grazing, is full of sticky note bookmarks, multi-coloured food spills and pencil scribbles from hard use. When her newest cookbook, Out of the Orchard, was released, I knew it was the perfect antidote for my almost irrational love for the bevy of fruits grown in the Okanagan Valley. From her recipes for everything from breakfast to deserts and all that comes between, I can tell she loves them as much as I do. And to keep the party going when the growing season ends, she includes preserves as well. These recipes are a splendid way to celebrate the bounty of the Okanagan Valley.

*

The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food, by Carolyn Herriot

This has been my most thumbed gardening book since it was released. The author passes on her hard-earned experience as she fills the pages with valuable advice, plant information and recipes to celebrate the bounty. A newer gem, Backyard Bounty, by Linda Gilkeson now nestles next to The Zero-Mile Diet on my gardening book shelf. Both authors live in the balmiest realms—Southern Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island respectively—and I take that into account (with some envy) as I attempt to meet the challenges of growing food in my harsher Whistler ski-resort-climate. I have read both books cover to cover and reach for them often.  

*

Growing Food in a Short Season: Sustainable, Organic Cold Climate Gardening, by Melanie J. Watts

This gardening book contains realistic gardening advice for me as the author has grows and harvests home-grown food in Northern British Columbia. With a laid-back approach born of years spent in her garden, the book is a fascinating and extensive source of information with bonus recipes and preserving hints. Together with Nikki Jabbour’s The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, written about her Nova Scotia garden, I have no excuses for ignorance about growing food in a cold climate. Another two garden books I have read from start to finish.  

*

The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities, by Peter Ladner

I dove into this book and found a kindred spirit. Cities, growing in leaps and bounds, present many challenges, and providing local food to people living in them is one of the biggest. The author, a former Vancouver city councillor, offers well-researched and thoughtful options to inspire city councils and organized passionate people everywhere to make local harvests available to city folk. Like most of my choices I write about here, there is a sizeable resource section at the end for readers to learn more. I finished the book with a new and hopeful view of how we can all make a difference.

*

Escape to Reality: How the World is Changing Gardening and Gardening is Changing the World, by Mark Cullen with Ben Cullen

A lovely read by this well-known father and son team, this book is filled with thoughtful essays about the difference gardening can make in our lives. The authors tackle serious issues as well, like climate change and food sustainability for all. They write about new efforts being made to ensure fresh locally grown foods are available to everyone, even those with few resources. I loved the connection these authors have with their garden and the natural world with all its wonders. Their writing inspires others, including me, to join them.  

*

About Freshly Picked: A Locavore’s Love Affair with BC’s Bounty, by Jane Reid

From the sex life of corn to death-defying cucumbers, author Jane Reid takes readers on a journey into the fascinating world of fruits and vegetables. Written with love and affection, each chapter features a single fruit or vegetable, in seasonal order, and includes humorous personal stories, odd growing habits, quirky superstitions, intriguing history and recipes to enjoy the harvest. A passionate and committed locavore, Jane lists thoughtful reasons and strategies for finding locally grown foods at a time when produce sections remain remarkably unchanged twelve months of the year, making it easy to lose the connection to our land, our farmers and the plants that feed us.

September 12, 2019

Books mentioned in this post

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Freshly Picked

A Locavore's Love Affair with BC's Bounty

by Jane Reid
edition: Paperback
tagged: canadian, essays

Take a delightful journey through BC's extraordinary bounty and explore the secrets of locally grown fruits and vegetables. In Jane Reid's new book, FRESHLY PICKED, foodies, locavores and gardeners will discover fascinating information about the plentiful harvests that BC farmers produce every year. In this beautiful colour edition, Reid shares val …

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The 100-Mile Diet

A Year of Local Eating

by Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon
edition: Paperback
tagged: slow cooking, agriculture & food, personal memoirs

The remarkable, amusing and inspiring adventures of a Canadian couple who make a year-long attempt to eat foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment.

When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average ingredient in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, they decided to launch a simple exper …

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Consumed

Food For A Finite Planet

by Sarah Elton
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback
tagged: essays

What happens on this planet over the next four decades has the potential to fundamentally alter life as we know it. The world population is expected to reach nine billion people by 2050?that’s nine billion hungry humans in need of food. The challenge of feeding this rapidly growing population has already been made greater by climate change, which …

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Vegetables First

120 Vibrant Vegetable-Forward Recipes: A Cookbook

by Ricardo Larrivée
edition: Hardcover
tagged: vegetables, quick & easy, canadian

120 fresh, flavourful recipes that put vegetables first!

Welcome to a celebration of the tastes, textures, colours, and possibilities that vegetables have to offer. These easy-to-follow, triple-tested recipes put vegetables front and centre, and let meat and fish play a supporting role. Discover delicious, bright dishes popping with colour (tomato a …

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Trauma Farm

A Rebel History of Rural Life

by Brian Brett
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
tagged: agriculture & food, personal memoirs, rural

Beginning naked in the darkness Brian Brett takes us on a journey through a summer’s day that also tells the story of his affectionately named Trauma Farm—exploring the garden, orchards, fields, the mysteries of live-stock and poultry, and the social intricacies of rural communities.

Both a memoir and a natural history of the small mixed farm, th …

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Out of the Orchard

Recipes for Fresh Fruit from the Sunny Okanagan

by Julie Van Rosendaal
edition: Paperback
tagged: fruit, canadian

A brand-new collection of eighty-five contemporary recipes that celebrate tree fruit from the orchards of the Okanagan.

BC's Okanagan Valley boasts rich, fertile soil, endless days of summer sun, and a pristine lake fed by pure mountain streams. This magical combination makes it home to some of the most delicious fruit in the world. The BC Tree Frui …

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The Zero-Mile Diet

A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food

by Carolyn Herriot
edition: Paperback
  • age: 8
  • Grade: 3
tagged: organic

This definitive month-by-month guide brings gardeners into the delicious world of edible landscaping and helps take a load off the planet as we achieve greater food security. Full of illustrative colour photos and step-by-step instructions, The Zero-Mile Diet shares wisdom gleaned from 30 years of food growing and seed saving with comprehensive a …

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Backyard Bounty

The Complete Guide to Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

by Linda Gilkeson
edition: Paperback
tagged: pacific northwest, vegetables, sustainable living, organic

Are you itching to start your own garden or grow more in the one you have, but feel that gardening is too challenging or time-consuming for your busy schedule? Would you like to enjoy fresh, home-grown produce every month of the year?

Backyard Bounty is like having your own Master Gardener to consult every step of the way. This encyclopedic refere …

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The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener

How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live

by Niki Jabbour, by (photographer) Joseph De Sciose
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged: vegetables, herbs, techniques

Even in winter’s coldest months you can harvest fresh, delicious produce. Drawing on insights gained from years of growing vegetables in Nova Scotia, Niki Jabbour shares her simple techniques for gardening throughout the year. Learn how to select the best varieties for each season, the art of succession planting, and how to build inexpensive stru …

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The Urban Food Revolution

Changing the Way We Feed Cities

by Peter Ladner
edition: Paperback
tagged: agriculture & food

Our reliance on industrial agriculture has resulted in a food supply riddled with hidden environmental, economic and health care costs and beset by rising food prices. With only a handful of corporations responsible for the lion's share of the food on our supermarket shelves, we are incredibly vulnerable to supply chain disruption.

The Urban Food Re …

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Escape to Reality

How the World is Changing Gardening, and Gardening is Changing the World

by Mark Cullen & Ben Cullen
edition: eBook
also available: Hardcover
tagged: essays

Why do we garden? Why should we? How is gardening changing the world? These are just some of the philosophical gardening questions pondered in this heartfelt and gorgeously designed book. An informed and personal reflection on gardening in Canada from the country’s preeminent horticultural expert, Escape to Reality goes beyond the hows that are t …

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