Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Where Am I Eating by Kelsey Timmerman

Just as Nuru International was getting started, so was the writing career of a former diving instructor from who hails from Ohio but currently calls Indiana home. Back in 2010, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Kelsey's first book, Where Am I Wearing?, and I had the additional privilege of sending signed copies of his book to some of our first monthly supporters at Nuru International that he and his publisher had donated.

Last summer he sent me a copy of his latest book, and I had the intention of writing a review of it last summer, but I never quite got around to it. And the real shame in that is that I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading it, and I really wanted to share my thoughts about it with others. Better late than never, right?

So first off, I was really impressed with Kelsey's first book and while I was expecting a variation on a theme with "Where Am I Eating?", I found that Kelsey's skill as a writer had developed, and the stories he shared were even more compelling.

I also admittedly thought I would read Kelsey's book and find it interesting and compelling, but at the same time I felt like I was pretty well informed on food. Jamie and I eat pretty healthy--she researches tasty recipes with healthy ingredients using Pinterest and other internet tools. We tend to buy local at the Morgantown Farmers' Market and belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) called Mountain Harvest Farm. If you live in/near Morgantown WV, you should join it next year! If not, you should find one in your community and support local agriculture!

In the meantime, let me tell you more about this book. Kelsey started his book with coffee. He traveled to Colombia with a Starbucks bag in an effort to connect with a coffee farmer who may have been related to the coffee he had enjoyed back in the US. The book starts here, and then Kelsey takes us on a journey with the farmers of Colombia who work long hours growing and picking coffee. He joins with these coffee farmers in their labor and does the same with banana, cocoa, lobster, and apple farmers as the book progresses. And as he labors and shares his story and the stories of the people he meets, I feel like as I read, Kelsey is taking me (and anyone else who has the privilege of reading his book) on a journey into the lives of farmers around the globe. And this is not an investigative journalist kind of journey. I believe that Kelsey walked away from each experience having made new friends, and having a better understanding of our global food economy than most people, and because of his writing, I may not have made friends, but I understand much better.

I don't know about you, but as informed as I think I am, I run through my daily life on a number assumptions. I want to trust that most of the food I see and/or purchase in the grocery store comes from the United States. But I feel like I made a number of discoveries in the book. I thought that Maine is the place where the majority of our lobster comes from. I was wrong. It's Nicaragua. I figured most apples and apple juice come from Washington, Michigan, or Virginia. They're grown in China.

I'm really tempted to go into detail on each section of the book, but I'll truncate this already long post with a simple encouragement for you to buy it, read it, and let it inform your choices about what you eat, and where you eat. Kelsey writes in a way that is winsome. He's not an angry protester. He's a man who is just trying to wrestle through wise decisions for himself, his family, his community, and his world. And maybe we all need a little nudge of encouragement to wrestle as well.

And Kelsey, please forgive me for this delayed review. The book was engaging, inspiring, and has left me and Jamie thinking deeply about where we are eating.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI, it is spelled Colombia, not Columbia.