As Important as the Food in 'Local Food'

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City Feed


In a piece today about neighborhood restaurants, Lane Wallace eloquently states something I think we're all looking for while trying to reduce our carbon footprint, eat organically and healthfully and respectfully to the planet and human and animal rights, and on and on. It's the sense that someone knows us and we're part of a community. It's the reason I bang on so much about Jamaica Plain and am such a fan, and frequenter, of our food store, cafe, and general meeting point, City Feed.

It's a point Wendell Berry made long ago about a local store that probably had a name just like City Feed—the compact that exists between any member of a community and the merchants to sell it, in which the customer agrees to pay more to have that store be a part of the fabric of local life. It can't be stated enough, and Lane states it particularly well (read the whole post to see what comes before the end I can't resist plucking out, please):

Whether they're simple taquerias, coffee houses, or culinary temples, [restaurants] are an important mechanism for maintaining some ability to connect casually with neighbors, form new connections, and build a common sense of neighborhood. If the food is memorable, that's an added treat. But local flavor goes beyond the taste of an organic strawberry harvested that morning from a nearby farm. And it's just as important as the food itself.
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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, and came to The Atlantic Monthly in 1981. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
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