Savour Life magazine

BOOK REVIEW

Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet
by C.J. Katz
Wednesday, May16, 2012
Journalist, chef, poet and storyteller, dee Hobsbawn-Smith has taken on the monumental task of travelling the province of Alberta, speaking with producers, chefs and just about anyone connecting with food and telling their story. Through her narrative, she has taken the concept of local eating past the very limiting 100—mile radius to make it farm ore inclusive. As she says, “We do live north of the 49th, and our geography imposes limits, so I practice selective, pragmatic self-indulgence instead of deprivation. Fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, olives, vanilla and citrus remain part of my pantry.”

With that focus in mind, Hobsbawn-Smith, who now lives just outside of Saskatoon, asks, “You know your doctor, you know your lawyer, you know your accountant. Who’s your farmer?” Foodshed takes you on a delicious and enlightening journey from A to Z, from Artichokes to Zizania and all the culinary letters in between—think of G for grass fed beef, I for icicle radishes, Q for Quackers, and U for unsalted butter. It puts a face to the food we eat with stories about more than 75 growers and producers, like Doug and Elna Edgar, grower sof 28-acares of asparagus; Paul and Hilda DeJonge who own Broxburn Vegetables and Café and a strawberry u-pick and greenhouses stuffed with spicy hot jalapenos; and Gerwin and Esther Van Deuveren who raise Pekin ducks to supply chefs.

Scattered throughout are lots of photographs as well 26 of Hobsbawn-Smith’s favourite recipes such as Smoked Fish Chowder with Chives, Pork Two Ways, and Tomato, walnut and Cilantro Bruschetta, just to name a few. Each offers an invitation to help you make the most of what farmers, orchardists, fishers and ranchers have to offer. And while the stories are about Alberta growers and producers, their stories are relevant to anyone interested in sustainable eating.

Foodshed is sure to take you on a journey beyond your local farmers market and into the heart of local living.

“You know your doctor, you know your lawyer, you know your accountant. Who’s your farmer?”

DEE HOBSBAWN-SMITH

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“Bread & Water is an emotionally arresting, beautifully written series of essays.”

~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards, University of Saskatchewan President’s Office Nonfiction Award

“Food is a wonderful agent for storytelling... and Bread & Water demonstrates this brilliantly.”

~ Sarah Ramsey, starred review, Quill & Quire

“[Bread & Water is] An amazing feast... riveting... eloquent.”

~ Patricia D. Robertson, Winnipeg Free Press

“[Bread & Water is a] sensuous experience; she brings her poet’s eye and ear to everything within her purview.”

~ Professor emerita Kathleen Wall, Blue Duets

“A deep love of the art of cooking that includes the language of fine dining (cassoulet, confit) even if the lamb was raised in Olds and she picked the rhubarb herself... she impressively manages this collision of worlds with a wholesome, approachable style.”

~ Megan Clark, Alberta Views

“These finely focussed poems [in Wildness Rushing In] invite us into a sensuous and emotionally rich landscape.”

~ Don McKay, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize

“The writing [in Wildness Rushing In] is honed and textured, the senses so alive that you can practically taste the language. There are moments of brilliance rare in a first book.”

~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards

“dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s stories [in What Can’t Be Undone] are written with a poetic edge. Her descriptions, particularly western landscapes, are often luxurious, lending themselves a kind of nuanced impression, a delicate fingerprint on the reader’s mind. "

~ Lee Kvern, Alberta Views

“[Foodshed is] A rich encyclopedia of facts, farm-gate lore and original recipes... a politically engaging narrative in which Hobsbawn-Smith articulates the challenges and joys faced by small-scale producers... don’ t let the alphabet theme fool you. This is no tame nursery rhyme; it is a locavore call to arms.”

~ P.D. Robertson, The Globe & Mail

Taste Canada Book Awards Finalist
Taste Canada Book Awards Finalist

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