Book Review: Homegrown Indiana

This afternoon, I posted the following as an Amazon review but wanted to share it here as well.

Home Grown Indiana by Christine Barbour and Scott Hutcheson

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this book for a few months.  My copy arrived this morning and I can enthusiastically say, “The wait was worth it and the book is even more than I had hoped it would be!”
Unlike many of the books published today, the quality of the book far exceeds the price in terms of both the quality of the book itself and the content.

The book is divided into seven regions.  For each region Christine Barbour and Scott Hutcheson introduce the reader to Indiana places where food is produced with a personal and local touch.  They go far beyond the basic facts (e.g., address, website URL, hours, etc.) and introduce the reader to the people that put heart and soul into their product and the places that make that food homegrown.

This personalization and connection is sometimes accomplished through stories and biographical snippets.  For example, the entry for Cook’s Bison Ranch begins, “In 1939, Everett Cook invested $5,000 in 83 acres with a house and a barn.” Sometimes the entries are made personal through the inclusion of a recipe such as that for “Wild American Persimmon Pudding” which brings back childhood memories for Duane Smith of Walnut Grove Spring Water Persimmon Valley Farm.  In other cases it is the observations of the authors that add spice to the entries.  The combined effect is the feeling you might have at the end of an evening that included an excellent meal and even better conversation and laughter shared with good friends.

In some books the extra stories and observations might come at the cost of depth or breadth in covering the subject matter.  This is NOT the case in Home Grown Indiana.  Along with sharing the specifics about the producers of everything from caviar to cheese and popcorn to bison, Scott Hutcheson and Christine Barbour offer additional information on topics such as: ideas for eating local year round, the meaning of the label “organic,” what is meant by a CSA, and some of the issues surrounding raw milk.  They also include lists of farmer’s markets, wineries, microbreweries/brewpubs, places to eat local while dining out, and food festivals that can be found in each region.

The book feels polished and complete in large part because of the way it is indexed.  The book closes with a list of recipes, a index by county, and an index by product.

I was pleased to see several producers I know and rely on listed for Northwest Indiana but I found several new places to explore here in Northwest Indiana.  The book’s size is small enough to carry easily or keep in the car for unexpected foodie adventures and making the most of local foods when I find myself in other parts of the state.  I expect that like my nature field guides this book will soon be well-loved and personalized through notes and much use.

While the content of the book would have been reason to celebrate in any form, I appreciate the actual quality of printing as well. The paper is crisp and the clarity of the typeface is clear and easy to read.  The text fills the pages but with adequate space in the margins for making notes.  The page edges are coded to make it easy to locate the section pertaining to a specific region of the state.  Within each region the main entries are arranged alphabetically making it easy to look up the hours of a favorite producer.

Thank you Scott and Christine for creating this wonderful resource.  Now if someone would just do the same for Southwest Michigan.

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About Shirley

Edge-walker, ethicurean, herbalist wannabe, idealist, introvert, ivory tower escapee, geek, granola gal, nature nut, pronoiac, scanner/renaissance soul, spiritual nomad, teacher, wayfinder, and world citizen who is weaving her passions for knowledge (learning & teaching), technological tools, the natural world, empowering people & communities, and everyday miracles & beauty into a curious life.
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