Even as awareness of fresh and local diets is exploding in restaurants, schools, stores, and cookbooks, many eaters feel like they don’t know how to prepare their own food. Sam Mogannam, owner of San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market, and writer Dabney Gough released Eat Good Food: A Grocer’s Guide to Shopping, Cooking, & Creating Community through Food to address that very problem.
This book takes its readers through every step of making a meal from sustainable and local ingredients, emphasizing that good food is a fun way to build community, not a daunting challenge. It meets Bi-Rite shoppers half-way, offering recipes for prepared-food favorites found at the deli counter, but also challenging eaters to take a more active role in how they shop and cook, giving directions on how to select seasonal produce and suggestions for questions to ask butchers.
A Bi-Rite shopper gushes, “it was really wonderful to have a recipe take shape in my shopping basket before me, I was in control of this food, and that experience is so much better”.
As Amanda Gold’s San Francisco Chronicle critique explains, “What makes the book particularly valuable is its comprehensive guide to ingredients found in the aisles of Bi-Rite – and in other stores like it – that helps readers become better-informed shoppers. The approach is a natural extension of a store that has built a business, and a community, around doing the same thing”
By bridging the gap of food knowledge that makes so many Americans anxious, unsure, and afraid of cooking their own food from sustainable ingredients, Mogannam and Gough open their reader to participation in the food movement that is gaining momentum in the food system.
And even though, as the owner of Bi-Rite, Mogannam has a clear motivation for touting the benefits of local, sustainable, fresh food such as that which he sells, his book is committed to the larger message of sustainable eating. Instead of giving rigid rules for how to eat, or how to eat his own store’s product, Mogannam teaches shoppers to become engaged in the process, to create their own standards for good food. As Bi-Rite’s marketing director Kirsten Bourne explains, “We don’t have a formal definition of local– what we care about is being able to picture a person or place where food was produced, and liking what we see”. With this Bi-Rite philosophy in mind, Eat Good Food sets out to “empower people to go into a grocery store and ask how food was produced and where it came from, and make shopping a fun opportunity to support food systems you believe in”.
From the wealth of information and inspiration in this book, maybe a few more Americans will start biting into the challenge of doing just that. With his book, Mogannam invites a wider audience to enjoy really delicious food with a dimension of environmental and community consciousness. He says, “I look forward to seeing where this food movement takes us in the next 10 years… good food is deserved by all”.