Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods
by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian

John Wiley & Sons, 2010. ISBN 978-0-470-37108-4.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 07/19/2010

Nonfiction: Biography; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Food/Cooking/Kitchen

I found a treasure without even looking for it. Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods had already moved to my cookbook shelf before I started writing this review. Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, founders of Edible Communities Publications, created this book out of hundreds of well-written articles gleaned from Edible magazines published throughout North America. They state their philosophy: "Amid the incessant drumbeat of bad news permeating our lives these days are glimmering signs of hope, manifested at the weekly gathering at the farmers' markets, in neighborhood food gardens, in fields and orchards well tended, and on home and restaurant tables where people have one again discovered the deep satisfaction of food well grown and prepared."

Organized into six regions throughout the US and Canada, with full color photographs, Edible shows how men and women produce, cook, and celebrate fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and protein in each region. As an added bonus, the last third of the book offers seasonal recipes gleaned from these same regions. Every article stimulated my interest and kept me reading.

Some of the featured profiles include urban multiplot farms in Boulder, Colorado that are "situated right in urban homeowners' front- and backyards." In Ojai, California, we read about Food for Thought, "a comprehensive program that teaches our children to make healthy choices lasting their lifetime and strives to increase levels of agricultural and environmental literacy." Another highlight came from Iowa River Valley, Iowa where The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) collects heirloom seeds.

I read every word in these 310 pages including the recipes. I'll be referring back to them as I create my own seasonal creations with ingredients from my backyard garden and the local farmers' market.

In 2002, with more than twenty years of marketing, writing and graphic design experience under her belt, Tracey Ryder co-founded Edible Communities as a way to combine these professional skills and enhance her personal values. Growing up in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, Tracey spent her childhood paddling a canoe and canning vegetables from her family garden.

Carole Topalian is a critically acclaimed photographer whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries as well as in nearly seventy shows throughout the United States and Europe. She lives in Ojai, California with her partner, two dogs, one cat, and a very large garden that she tends daily (when she's not traveling to another assignment).

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