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Book Group: Renewing America’s Food Traditions, by Gary Nabhan (ed.)

November 1, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Renewing America's Food Traditions

The Slow Food Russian River Book Group will be discussing Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods, by Gary Paul Nabhan (ed.), with a foreword by Deborah Madison (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008)

The Book Group meets the first Thursday of the month, 7 – 9pm, usually in Sebastopol. It’s a convivial dinner. Please bring a dish for four and a beverage.

Please RSVP on Meetup or by email and spread the word about this Book Group. Location revealed after RSVP.


To be a member of the Book Group you don’t need to be a member of Slow Food, although – of course – we hope that with time you will become one.

About the Editor

Gary Paul Nabhan is an Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist, Ecumenical Franciscan Brother, and author whose work has focused primarily on the plants and cultures of the desert Southwest. He is considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement.

Publishers Blurb of Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods

Renewing the Food Traditions of North America is a dramatic call to recognize, celebrate, and conserve the great diversity of foods that give North America the distinctive culinary identity that reflects its multi-cultural heritage. It offers us rich natural and cultural histories as well as recipes and folk traditions associated with one hundred of the rarest food plants and animals in North America. In doing so, it reminds us that what we choose to eat can either conserve or deplete the cornucopia of our continent.

In addition, it offers a eulogy to a once-common game food that has gone extinct–the passenger pigeon–to underscore how rapidly a food species can be depleted if its habitat is destroyed and harvesting pressures are ignored. Rather than dwelling on the tragic losses, it highlights the success stories of food recovery, habitat restoration, and market revitalization which chefs, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and foresters have recently achieved. Through such food parables, editor Nabhan and his colleagues build a persuasive argument for eater-based conservation.

Implementing that call to action, the Renewing America’s Food Tradition collaborative involves some of the country’s most inspiring and effective non-profit organizations in targeting hundreds of rare and neglected foods unique to North America for such restoration and recovery. They have been compiled into the first-ever comprehensive list of the wild and domesticated food varieties that are threatened or endangered in North America, including heirloom seeds, fruits, and nuts; heritage breeds of livestock and poultry; fish and game; and wild-foraged plants. In addition, this book offers a tool-kit to engage those who wish to personally support and participate in such recoveries, and a list of food festivals held across the continent to honor and enjoy some of the country’s most iconic foods, from crab cakes to maple syrup and file gumbo.

Organized by food nations named for the ecological and cultural keystone foods of each region–Salmon Nation, Bison Nation, Chile Pepper Nation, Cornbread Nation, among others–this book offers you an altogether fresh perspective on the culinary traditions of North America. After savoring this book, you will never look at the geography of food–or the necessity of conserving the biocultural foundation of culinary diversity–the same way again.

Bibliographic details

Renewing America’s food traditionssaving and savoring the continent’s most endangered foods
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Foreword / Deborah Madison — Introduction / Gary Paul Nabhan — TheFood Nations of North America — About RAFT’s Founding Partners — 1. Acorn nation — 2. Bison nation — 3. Chestnut nation — 4. Chile pepper nation — 5. Clambake nation — 6. Cornbread nation — 7. Crabcake nation — 8. Gumbo nation — 9. Maple syrup nation — 10. Moose nation — 11. Pinyon nut nation — 12. Salmon nation — 13. Wild rice nation — Epilogue: gone but not forgotten; the continentwide extinction of the passenger pigeon — Appendix 1. RAFT List of Foods at Risk in North America — Appendix 2. RAFT Toolkit for Community-Based Conservation and Evaluation of Traditional Foods.
Renewing America’s Food Traditions is a beautifully illustrated and dramatic call to recognize, celebrate, and conserve the great diversity of foods that gives North America its distinctive culinary identity and reflects our multicultural heritage. It offers us rich natural and cultural histories as well as recipes and folk traditions associated with the rarest food plants and animals in North America. In doing so, it reminds us that what we choose to eat can either conserve or deplete the cornucopia of our continent.” “While offering a eulogy to a once-common game food that has gone extinct – the passenger pigeon – the book doesn’t dwell on tragic losses. Instead, it highlights the success stories of food recovery, habitat restoration, and market revitalization that chefs, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and foresters have recently achieved. Through such “food parables,” editor Gary Paul Nabhan and his colleagues build a persuasive argument for eater-based conservation.”–Jacket.
White River Junction, Vt. : Chelsea Green Pub. Co.
Creation Date
xiv, 304 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), color maps ; 23 cm.
ISBN : 9781933392899
ISBN : 1933392894
Dewey : 641.5973
LC : TX715 .R42157 2008
OCLC Number

Book Review

An Unlikely Way to Save a Species: Serve It for Dinner, by Kim Severson New York Times, April 30, 2008

“The Makah ozette potato, a nutty fingerling with such a rich, creamy texture that it needs only a whisper of oil, is one of the success stories. It is named after the Makah Indians, who live at the northwest tip of Washington state and have been growing the potatoes for more than 200 years.”


A Talk with Gary Paul Nabhan

A talk with Gary Paul Nabhan, Arab-American writer and food and farming advocate. Nabhan spoke at a fundraising event to support opportunities for undergraduate English majors at Arizona State University. “Seeding the Future” is sponsored by ASU’s Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to benefit students majoring in English by funding opportunities for research, presentations, and travel during their undergraduate experience at ASU. Nabhan is the author of “Where Our Food Comes From,” “Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods,” “Arab/American: Landscape, Culture, and Cuisine in Two Great Deserts,” and more. He is perhaps best known in the southwest for his 1982 book, “The Desert Smells Like Rain.”

On Goodreads
Jan 31, 2017 Dave:
I really like the idea of this book. I was hoping there’d be a little more to it though. When you first open it you realize that each “food nation” only focuses on a handful of foods. It doesn’t exactly do the best job of summarizing traditional diets or bioregional lifestyles. There’s some interesting history, nice photos and recipes that encourage people to try unfamiliar ingredients but putting all the emphasis on the most endangered foods rather than the most practical wasn’t the best choice in my opinion. Including a list of endangered varieties and breeds is great. We definitely need to reverse the trend of growing only “the best” variety of each crop wherever it grows most productively and shipping it thousands of miles to consumers. We really do need to bring back the plants and animals that are most hardy to our local conditions. However, we need a clearer picture of what fully localized economies look like and this book falls way short of that, unfortunately. More

Slow Food USA blog post about this book: NEW ANALYSIS OF AT-RISK FOODS IN NORTH AMERICA, Apr. 20, 2008



November 1, 2018
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


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7403 Palm Ave
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