Good Food Book Club: January and Beyond

 Inspiring a New Era and Reviving the Good Life:
Another Look at the Nearings

Happy New Year! And welcome to a new era. As I write, on December 13th, 2015, 200 countries around the world have just adopted the strongest, most crucial climate agreement in history. It may well prove to be the most important agreement ever made.

It’s not enough, but it’s a window. You can find details on the epic decisions made at the Paris Climate Summit elsewhere in the global and national press, but for now, it’s a New Year celebration of special note to the Good Food Book Club. Here’s why:

Our readings and discussions in the Book Club for the last few years have been tinged with an urgency and a hunger for something much bigger than simply “Good Food.” Our reading has made it abundantly clear that to have “Good Food,” we must have a “Good Food Culture and System,” as in a culture and system that is restorative, non-toxic, based on principles of justice and solidarity of people and the environment, sustainable, diverse, and more. We’ve discussed myriad ways this is unfolding: from small organic farmers who cell CSAs, to urban pioneers growing tons of food in vacant lots, to the rising flood of backyard growers who harvest most of their own food in tiny parcels, to permaculture and how its visionary approach dovetails with all of the above. And we’ve seen the problems and challenges that continue to threaten people’s health, ecological resilience, world ecosystems, and human dignity.

But now, with the historic Paris Climate Agreements, we have a principled guidepost and global synchronization to unfold those “Good Food Cultures and Systems” for the immediate future. In short: our book club choices matter. They matter in the same way that it mattered how people approached their daily lives during the WW2 scale mobilization. And now, thousands of people at home and around the world are essentially enacting a similar “Climate Mobilization,” to respond to this emerging global hunger for a universally sustainable, equitable, harmonious, stable human culture that supports “good food and good life.” The Paris agreement is not enough though. As a local community, we can—and in many ways as a cooperative community, are beholden to—align our readings with the uprising of related restorative work locally, and around the world.

To that end, we’ll start 2016 with the landmark quest by Helen and Scott Nearing to live a “good life” growing their own food, living close to the land, and creating resilience, all from within the larger American capitalist, consumer culture. In many ways, they launched what we now know as the powerful new and emerging good (local, sustainable, organic, etc.) food movement, a smaller piece of something far bigger.

Some are now calling this era The Great Transition, and food co-ops and the farmers and community they support are integral to this transition. Then we’ll read books and memoirs over the coming months that align with and explore the Great Transition now underway locally and globally. Along the way we’ll discuss common themes and explore how each book inspires transformative action or helps to define this emerging era.

For starters, here is a list of the first six books for 2016:

  • January: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living, by Helen and Scott Nearing (Schocken Books, 1990)
  • February: Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War, by Annia Ciezadlo, (Free Press 2012)
  • March: The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land, by Curtis Stone
  • April: Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness, by Sasha Martin (National Geographic, 2015)
  • May: Bread, Wine, and Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, by Simran Sethi (HarperOne, 2015)
  • June: Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safron Faur (Back Bay Books, 2010)

Please join us to discuss The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living, by Helen and Scott Nearing (Schocken Books, 1990), on Wednesday, February 3 (to accommodate a travel conflict) from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Moscow Food Co-op.

Remember to email for the meeting location and directions and/or to receive email reminders about the Good Food Book Club. The Good Life is available through your local library. If you are interested in buying the book, check out the area’s local used book stores or visit Book People of Moscow where Book Club members receive a discount. For more information about the Good Food Book Club, check out the Outreach section of the MFC website at