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Edible City: Toronto’s Food from Farm to Fork

by Christina Palassio and Alana Wilcox, eds.

Edible City addresses the past, present, and future of food in Toronto. Like its predecessors – uTOpia, GreenTOpia, and HTO – the book is a fascinating mix of political advocacy, social history, and reportage. The 41 essays, written by a diverse range of established and emerging authors, focus on pressing issues surrounding food in Toronto, and go a long way toward answering  some of the difficult questions those issues raise.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking that Edible City is a joyless policy tome – it’s quite the opposite. From trendy foodies and gourmands to veteran grassroots political organizers, the Torontonians portrayed in Edible City are passionate about their food, and interested in where it comes from and what it signifies. The contributors (including Bert Archer, Kathryn Borel, Jr., and RM Vaughan) bring that same passion to their writing, whether calling for improved working conditions for itinerant farm workers or hoping for the rebirth of the city’s long-forgotten signature cocktail: The Toronto.

The book contains fascinating looks at the history of beer, bread, and just about every other foodstuff you can imagine. There are also some excellent advocacy and social justice pieces. There’s even an open letter from the rats of Toronto. And, of course, it’s impossible to have a food book without recipes, which pop up throughout the volume. Though the masses who get their daily bread from a drive-thru window or the frozen food aisle are not represented in this collection, they will certainly recognize how they are affected by the issues it raises.

The common theme here is connecting people through food. In the final essay, Wayne Roberts of the Toronto Food Policy Council suggests that this connection is really about empowerment, and empowering readers is exactly what Edible City is sure to do.