Blessing The Hands That Feed Us

What Eating Closer to Home Taught Me About Food, Community And Our Place on Earth

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Could you live - for even a month - eating only food grown within 10 miles of your home. Why would you even want to?

When Tricia Beckner, Whidbey Island small farmer, wanted to see if she could actually feed someone three squares a day for 30 days right out of her garden, she found a willing partner in Vicki Robin, long-time, well-known sustainable lifestyle maven. Read on for the whole story. (to read her daily posts on the 10-mile diet blog click here.)

tricia in garden

Vicki had dabbled in local food. She’d joined the first Seattle CSA. She’d shopped at the first farmer’s market. She hadn’t stared local food in the eye, though, until moving to Whidbey Island and discovering that there was only a 3-day supply of food in the grocery stores, and less that a month’s supply of food in those bounteous fields. In other words, her rural island was completely hooked on semi-trucks of food lumbering onto ferries every day. Knowing that economic and energy resources are limited and the climate uncertain, she started looking for a way to relocalize her food system. In Tricia’s invitation she recognized a chance to start small: relocalizing her mouth.

Then came the reality. Where would she get protein? Could she really live without tea in the morning or salt on her food? Uh-oh. No wheat or other grain. How would she live without toast, crackers, and sundry crunchies? Together, Vicki and Tricia worked out the terms of the game – including Tricia’s food, four exotics, permission to find honey and meat within the 10-mile radius defined by Tricia’s farm and Vicki’s home, a daily blog, a detailed tally – and on September1, 2010 Tricia delivered her first box of fresh food from the garden.

jess veggies

They counted on challenges, but didn’t count on the depth of friendship, the hilarious stories, the spiritual epiphanies or the passion that would arise for solving some of those big issues – like how can we all bring our eating closer to home.

Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; what eating closer to home can teach us about food, community and our place on earth follows Vicki as she is surprised, peeved, moved, deprived, curious and empowered by her month of hyper-local. She emerges victorious and on fire from the 30-day experiment. In February she does a 50% within 50 miles –just to prove it can be done in every season. Then – ever the activist – she starts organizing her community, writing the book and searching for answers to the big question about what kind of food system do we really want for health, community and fairness? Tomato-hands

Every chapter has recipes and practices eaters might try as they recognize that they too want to unhook from the anywhere global industrial food system and enjoy local, relational food fresh from the farms of their region.


Praise for Blessing the Hands that Feed Us

“Vicki Robin has helped millions of Americans reshape their lives in sound and beautiful ways, but this may be her most important project yet—and a crucial one for our tired planet too!”—Bill McKibben, author Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

“Vicki Robin is a national treasure--a source of wisdom and uncommon sense now directed at the most basic of basics: how and what we eat and how that connects to our health, prosperity, and prospects . . . The ten-mile diet should be national policy!”—David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin

“Vicki Robin's Blessing the Hands that Feed Us is part how-to manual for eating ‘hyperlocal’ in an era where we can eat whatever we want at any time of day and part homage to the farmers around the globe who grow our food. I'm inspired not only by Robin's commitment to her own diet, but also her ability to tell the story meal-by-meal and farmer-by-farmer about why we should all be looking more closely at our own diets. Without preaching, Robin shows readers the nutritional, health, environmental, and social benefits of knowing exactly where our food comes from.”—Danielle Nierenberg, Co-Founder of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

"Whether you're a vegan, vegetarian or eat some meat, this book can show you how and why to include ‘local’ on your list of important food values. Discovering the food of your bioregion, meeting your local farmers, sharing meals with friends, building community through food—all of this is part of personal and planetary health."—John Robbins, author Diet for a New America and co-founder of The Food Revolution Network

“Vicki Robin is like a Mohandas Gandhi of the 21st Century, modeling a self-reliant lifestyle that can end the violence our industrial food system exacts again our health, our communities, our ecosystems, and our relationships.  Her moving story of how she localized her eating habits accomplishes the impossible:  It serves as a compelling manifesto of localization—including hundreds of practical tips about how we can become more self-reliant on local food—but also is an engaging, delightfully enjoyable read. The book is a blessing, to be shared with family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else you love.”—Michael H. Shuman, author of Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Move Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity

"Vicki Robin knows that honest, engaging food writing isn't really about food. It's about friends, family, community, spirit, and soil. It's about joy. This book gracefully contains all six in equal measure."—Ben Hewitt, author of The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

"Want to find your way from the highway of overeating to the garden of relational eating?  Of course you do.  For decades, Vicki Robin has been out front, showing us a new path that is not dependent upon mindless consumption.  She has kept right on going, all the way to her local food system.  And what a hopeful, healthy destination she has found, for her and for everyone who wants to truly and beautifully take our country forward."—Woody Tasch, Chairman, Slow Money

“A deeply personal and fun read that manages to both playfully and honestly recount one woman’s journey into reconnection—with food, with community, and with the land itself that feeds us.”—Nina Simons, Co-Founder and President, Bioneers/Collective Heritage Institute

“What a beautiful, honest, relatable book Vicki Robin has written. After reading it, I can't help but rethink how I eat, where I shop, and ways to do it all differently. Blessing the Hands That Feed Us really is a blessing to us all.”—Geneen Roth, author Women Food and God and Lost and Found

“Vicki Robin has made an illuminating experiment that could help lead us all closer to a sustainable world. I especially love the way she weaves global issues into very personal, intimate stories of her own experience.”—Starhawk, author of The Spiral Dance