Bag the Supermarket: 8 Books to Inspire the Dream

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8 books to inspire the dream

Every revolution – in fact, every dream – requires inspiration. There are days you need reassurance, shoring up, and a sense of belong to something other than the inside of your own skull. On those days, thank heavens for inspiration.

Forthwith, here are 8 books (and a juicy quote from each) that inspire my dream to bag the supermarket.

1. The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball.
Virgo Man and I just read this out loud to each other and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the story of a big-city girl who falls in love with a free-spirited farmer. Together, they set out to create a farm that grows an entire diet for a community. Well written, entertaining, and lots to think about. My favorite quote: “Food is the original wealth.”

2. Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben.
This is the book that really got me to think about the impact I could make by committing to local food. It’s about much more than food, but the message is that individual people can indeed make a difference, and that individual decisions matter a lot. My favorite quote: “After all, for almost all people throughout history (and for most people still today), ‘the economy’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘What’s for dinner?’ and “Am I having any?'”

3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.
I listened to a recording of this book, read by the author, so I can’t give you any direct quotes – but I highly recommend it. Not only is it entertaining and beautifully written, but it gets you to really think about the place of food in your life. Kingsolver is just about exactly  my age and I love having her company in finding creative expression and meaningful work in home-making. (My mother just had a heart attack, reading that sentence. Sorry, Mom.)

4. What Matters? by Wendell Berry.
Berry is the patron saint philosopher-poet-farmer of the food revolution. He has been warning us about industrial food for decades, and he’s done it in a variety of ways: through essays, through poems, and through novels and stories. He gets that sometimes thinking about change has to come in an entertaining package, not in an earnest and dour sermon. Favorite quote:  “If ‘economy’ means ‘management of a household,’ then we have a system of national accounting that bears no resemblance to the national economy whatsoever, for it is not the record of our life at home but the fever chart of our consumption.”

5. The Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford.
This is the first book I read about the post-Great Recession economy, and it woke me up but good. The book doesn’t have anything to do with local food, per se, but it does give some thought to one of the most persistent questions about local food: where do we find the time to shop and cook like that, and how do we afford it? Ford proposes that in the not-too-distant future, there will not be enough jobs for people, because we will have automated so much work. But people will still need money to live. He says we should start thinking about paying people for contributions that matter to society overall – like volunteering, cleaning up the environment, becoming educated citizens, and so on. The idea of separating income from jobs is revolutionary, and think of the time you’d have available!

6.  Pinched by Don Peck.
This book is all about how the middle class is critical to the stability of our country (just ask Thomas Jefferson), and how it is being starved out of existence. If ever there were a rallying cry to rebuild local communities, this is it.  About the growing divide between the middle class the the very wealthy, he writes, “…for the very rich…global affinities and global ambitions are quickly supplanting national ties and national concerns. Increasingly, the very rich see themselves as members of a global elite with whom they have more in common than with other classes of Americans.” Yikes.

7. The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters.
You’ve all heard of Alice Waters, right? She started the world-famous restaurant Chez Panisse in the 1970s in Berkeley. It wasn’t terribly auspicious. She just starting cooking dinners at the house where she lived, and charged people a couple dollars to eat with her. Humble beginnings for a superstar. The recipes in this book are much simpler than in her previous books and are all based on using and respecting local seasonal food. Yummy.

8. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.
Katz is a true revolutionary. In fact, he wrote another book that I haven’t read yet called The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. He makes the case that we are all way too afraid of our food, and that while we should be careful, we should not be relying on government rules to keep us safe. Instead we should learn for ourselves what’s safe and what isn’t. Favorite quote: “By supporting this local food revival, we are recycling our dollars into our communities.”

So there you have it, Dreamers. My top 8 books to inspire the Bag the Supermarket Dream. Enjoy!


  • My book pile just got manageable so thank you for the suggestions to add to it! I’ll be seeking out “Pinched” and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. Great list and resources as always Jayne!

  • Cath

    Alice Waters has a wood burning oven that she cooks in… 
    and I LOVE this by Wendell Berry “There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” 

    Love this journey you are on – Cath