We’ve got some great stuff on tap for our September meeting. We’re reading Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by one of my favorite food journalists, Barry Estabrook, who wrote the Politics of the Plate column for Gourmet before it shuttered in 2009, writes a blog of the same name, and also writes for The Atlantic. Estabrook will join us in Birmingham for this conversation, which will also feature a local tomato tasting with chef Frank Stitt. (Can I share an awesome, awesome tidbit? Two local growers have planted tomatoes so they will be available just for this event!)
You may remember Estabrook’s article in Gourmet magazine in March 2009, “The Price of Tomatoes,” which won a James Beard Award. In that piece, Estabrook wrote about modern-day slavery in Florida tomato fields, and a campaign to increase workers’ wages a mere penny per pound by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. (The CIW has had some success with McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Yum Brands, Compass, Aramark, and Sodexho, but many grocery chains still refuse to pay the extra penny per pound.) Estabrook has continued to follow the Immokalee workers… and in Tomatoland, he also uncovers much more about the tomato industry, and how a beautiful fruit that originated in Peru has become a tasteless, styrofoamy-textured shadow of the real thing, sold in grocery stores all over America.
Join us Tuesday, September 13, 6pm at the Central Library, 2100 Park Place in Birmingham. Our September book club meeting is also the first event of The Eat Drink Read Write Festival, a five-day celebration of food, film, and literature that’s been organized by the Foodie Book Club, Slow Food Birmingham, the Desert Island Supply Company, and the Birmingham Public Library.
Be sure to check out the other great events of the Eat Drink Read Write Festival:
- Food Stories: Join us Wednesday Sept 14, 7pm, at Woodrow Hall for a MOTH-like live storytelling event with the Desert Island Supply Company. Listen to hilarious, amazing, and touching 5-minute stories—and come share your own! Cash bar and snacks.
- Foodie Movies: Thursday, Sept 15, 6:30pm at the Central Library, catch a series of film shorts by Joe York, who works with the Southern Foodways Alliance to create films about food in the South: barbecue, cheese, fish, cocktails… his camera captures what we love. Local restaurants are cooking up some good eats. (Tickets are free, but you’ll definitely need one to get in.)
- Bards & Brews Poetry Slam: Friday, Sept 16, 6:30pm at the Central Library, hear the best lines from previous Bards & Brews winners. Toast the poets with craft beers from regional breweries.
- Food Writing: Find the Desert Island Supply Company’s booth at Pepper Place market Saturday morning, September 17. You’ll find locally-grown, in-season inspiration—and you may even get a start on that great American food novel you’ve been dying to write.
- Foodie Talk: Saturday, Sept 17, 3:30pm at the Central Library, get ideas for how use food to live a healthier life. Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, and founder of the Allergy Kids Foundation, and Michael Nolan, author of I Garden: Urban Style, talk solutions that anyone can do.