Harvest for Hope - A Guide to Mindful Eating

By Jane Goodall, Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson
Warner Books, 2005
ISBN: 0446533629 320 pages
$24.95

In Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, renowned primatologist Jane Goodall inspires and empowers us to eat ethically and healthfully. She explains how our food is secretly laced with poison and pain by detailing the common practices of industrial agriculture, and she goes on to examine the consequences of these techniques—driving home the point that we are detrimentally disconnected from nature and our consciences. The book teaches us not only how to leave a small footprint on the Earth, but how to make that impression positive.

Goodall attributes many of society's problems to the way food is produced. She scolds the US government for supporting an agricultural policy that makes some of the emptiest and most fattening calories the cheapest and most readily available. But there is hope—in the form of small, humane, organic, local, diversified, sustainable farms. Goodall says it is incumbent upon each of us to use our purchasing power to force those who raise animals and crops to do so in an ethical manner.

Due to the breadth of material presented in this book, some points would benefit from clarification. Such is the case regarding the overstatements of protections afforded to animals by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic label. This USDA certification pertains largely to what animals consume and does not guarantee access to fresh air and pasture and the ability to exercise. And while Whole Foods Market is making impressive efforts on behalf of animals, the duck supplier Goodall mentions still trims bills and does not give all ducks access to water for swimming. As Goodall notes, we should stay informed about the practices used by the farms and companies we support.

Sprinkled throughout the book are poignant vignettes and stories of people already making a difference. Considering the mass of information and resources Harvest for Hope contains, even the most educated readers will add to their knowledge.

by Wendy Swann