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Cooked | Bob Russell Resilience Reading Project

Bob Russell Resilience Reading Project

December 23rd, 2013

Review: ‘Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation’

By Bill Palladino

My first Michael Pollan book, “The Botany of Desire,” was one I instantly fell for. That book casually tossed upon my table the relationship humans have with plants, and reciprocally the relationship they seem to have developed with us. It sounded vaguely alien-esque, so I went off into the void of two of my favorite reading genres: food and sci-fi. It was followed by a succession of other Pollan books through the years, each with the promise of keeping my foodie mind burbling with anticipation.

If you’ve read Pollan’s other books, “Cooked” one arrives a bit off-camber. It’s not the same rip-out-the-heart, traditional food system skewering we’re used to. “Cooked” starts with a frank admission from Pollan: “Cooking has always been a part of my life, but more like the furniture than an object of scrutiny, much less a passion.”  What he’s saying is that he’s made a career out of talking about food without ever understanding its true relationship personally.

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November 4th, 2013

Welcome to the Bob Russell Resilience Reading Project

The death of local activist and environmentalist Bob Russell left a huge void in northern Michigan. His longtime dedication to justice, connection to the earth, and his belief in the importance of knowledge anchored a life of service and achievement. Bob had many talents indeed, but it was his passion for learning—his discipline to study and his unyielding drive to gather information—that, as much as anything, defined his effectiveness as a leader, and will be missed in northern Michigan.

It’s in that spirit of knowledge and learning that the Michigan Land Use Institute, along with several other regional groups and businesses, are launching the Bob Russell Resilience Reading Project.

Before Bob’s passing, he shared with his friends and colleagues a carefully curated list of books he felt can help us understand what we can do to make sure our community is economically, environmentally, and socially as healthy and resilient as possible.

The idea behind the new reading project is a simple one: In each season of the year, a broad community will come together to read one of the books recommended by Bob, discuss its themes and lessons, celebrate the region’s strengths, and acknowledge the work that remains.

The project kicks off this winter with “Cooked,” by Michael Pollan, who argues that our own health and the health of our food system depend on one rule: Cook your own food. The book taps into northern Michigan’s incredible agricultural heritage, our love of great dishes, and our booming local food economy.

You can pick up a copy of “Cooked”—and all the other books on Bob’s list—at Horizon Books and local libraries. Then follow along with fellow readers at www.resilience-reads.org, and join us in February for the inaugural book club meeting at Horizon.