Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York, by Robin Shulman
Lately, as I begin to move towards growing my own food and becoming less dependent on factory production to sustain myself, I have been gravitating towards books on the subject, like Jonathan Safran Foer’s eye-opening Eating Animals and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. Robin Shulman’s new book Eat the City, which focuses on the local food production of New York City, might be my new favorite in this genre.
In this extensive and entertaining ode to the food producers of NYC, Shulman weaves a colorful portrait of a city brimming with sustainability. I had never thought of a major city as a place that would be conducive to farming or brewing or keeping bees, but I was clearly incorrect. After all, as Shulman points out, food is culture, and where can you find more culture than New York? From the vacant lots-turned-vegetable gardens of Harlem to the rooftop empire of beehives in Brooklyn to the crab fishing of Coney Island, New York is filled with a host of characters who work hard for what they eat. Just as the city alters the way that these people produce their nourishment, so too do they have an impact on the history and landscape of the city, changing the way we eat day by day.
Shulman has a great writing style that draws you into the narrative with ease, entertaining while still informing. Each chapter brought lots to love, and I’ve already filled a notebook with the names of different places that I want to check out the next time I take a trip to the Big Apple. I highly recommend this well-researched, conversational book—it’s certainly an appealing read. (Careful, though, it’ll make you hungry!)