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Freshly Picked: Amazing Food Books

A selection of inspiring books just perfect for harvest time. 

Book Cover Freslhy Picked

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. 


Book Cover The 100 Mile Diet

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.


Book Cover Locavore

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. 


Book Cover Vegetables First

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.


Book Cover TraumaFarm

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.


Book Cover Out of the Orchard

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.


Book Cover The Zero Mile Diet

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.  


Book Cover Growing Food in a Short Season

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.  


Book Cover the Urban Food Revlolution

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.


Book Cover Escape to Reality

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.  


Book Cover Freslhy Picked

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.

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