Tag Archives: books

Reader’s Choice ’12: Food Fright

Remember Ryan Goodman?

Ryan Goodman

Ryan Goodman

He’s the young cowboy we visited last March. He’s been quite busy since then. Besides full-time graduate school, Ryan’s been blogging his passion for agriculture on CNN’s food blog Eatocracy.

You read that right: C-N-N.

Ryan graciously agreed to take a moment out of his celebrity schedule to be in our little Reader’s Choice feature. Meanwhile, our friend Dairy Carrie let me hijack his blog as a Bandita. I’ve never been a Bandita before! 

See my surprise guest post today on Ryan’s blog Agriculture Proud. But first, Ryan’s Reader’s Choice is:

Food Fright

click to read Food Fright

click to read Food Fright

Reader's Choice 2012


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Filed under America, food & farm

Gone Fishin’

Recommend a book to me everyone’s reading, a blog I must follow, a movie I must see. My first reaction is to turn up my nose.

low shelf library

low shelf library

I’ll go there, to that book, blog, or viral video. Do my best to be in-the-know.

More delicious are the discoveries.

I may find them by following a crowd or reading a review. But usually they come to me in lonely library catalog searches. Woeful browses through bookstores. Dives on Amazon. Quiet suggestions made in passing by trusted friends.

I take to the water in my small boat and put out my line. Maybe I’ll make a catch today. The repetition of searching almost always precedes the finding.

The best ones tug at my line. If I believed in fate, I’d say it was destiny. I was meant for this book at this moment.

In the continuum of space and time, it caught me.

stone fish, Lake Champlain

stone fish, Lake Champlain

And when I’m caught or when I catch it or both, the sun bounces off our meeting. Sweet life flapping and flickering and fighting to be freed.

The memory imprints of those books, posts, poems, movies, and songs. I catch and release. Now I bear witness.

You must see what I’ve found, this book. You simply must.

I live with the scar of the hook, and I’m not the same as before.

“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.” Proverbs 8:12 NLT

Toes by Norah Jones.

Catch any fantastic books lately?


Filed under writing & reading

Food Fright

This post was featured by BlogHer on July 17, 2012.

Something’s awry in the 630s and the 338.19s.



Recently I ventured into the 630s and 338.19s at the downtown branch of the Wichita Public Library. Those are the Dewey Decimal call numbers for farming and production.

I was looking for a book that could help me address the concerns of yet another well-intentioned friend who watched Food, Inc. and hit the panic button.

Food giant Cargill headquarters its meat operations in Wichita. Kansas ranks seventh among states for total agricultural production. You’d think this prairie town would be dyed-in-the-wool pro-ag. Not so fast.

Instead of books about the dignity of farming and food production, here’s a sample of the titles I found:

The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply–And What You Can Do About It

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American  Soil

Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization


Did you eat today? How about yesterday? Last year? Do you plan to eat again?

Did you have trouble finding food? Or did you have your choice of food at your choice of markets? Is someone preventing you from growing your own food if you want to do so?

I know your food didn’t kill you or you wouldn’t be reading this.



I have a child. To borrow a line of reasoning from Katie Pinke, because I have a child, do you think I abuse him? How about my dog? Do you assume I abuse her?

If you have children or animals, should I assume you abuse them? How about livestock or poultry? If a farmer raises livestock or poultry, is it a foregone conclusion that those animals are abused?

You know how I feel about milk.

Did you find insects in your produce? How about fungi on your fruit? Was your corn sweet and robust or wimpy and weedy? Was it dripping with chemicals?

Bad things happen in agriculture. There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die.

There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen at local swimming pools. And at city halls. In factories. Police departments. Schools. Daycares. Animal shelters. Fortune 500 companies. Convenience stores.

There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die. There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen, but they’re not the norm.

They’re certainly not the intention of the majority of people who work in these sectors. Crimes should be prosecuted. Innocent people shouldn’t be attacked.

Research, funding, and lifetimes of labor by dedicated farmers go into improving farming and our food. The result is one of the safest, most plentiful, least expensive food supplies in history. We have choices of what to eat.

Surely there must be something right about farming and food.

Much of what’s wrong appears to be grown and harvested on a bookshelf of misinformation. And don’t even get me started about what’s on the internet.



Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4 NLT

The Farmer’s Song by Murray McLaughlin. Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real from a kid from the city to you.

I snapped the food photos in this post at The Fresh Market in Wichita, where conventional, organic, homegrown, and imported foods are sold from the same shelves.

What’s your take on this? What are your concerns about farming and food? What would you like to stay the same? What would you like to change? 


Filed under America, food & farm

“Seduced by Bacon” Book Found

Book lovers rejoice. My copy of Seduced by Bacon has been recovered.

Guess where it was?

seduced by bacon book

whoomp there it is

On the cookbook shelf in the kitchen. Who’d have thunk it? Mere weeks ago I feared it was a casualty of our move.

Found it by accident while looking for my smoothies recipe book—which incidentally is now missing. Happened upon Seduced by Bacon as I combed the cookbook spines.

Sometimes what we’re looking for is exactly where it’s supposed to be, maybe even right in front of us, whether we see it or not.

Gives me hope Cassatt will turn up, too. And I’m thinking of a new motto:

Leave no book behind. 

Works for lost books at home and returns to the library. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the bacon that’s long overdue.

“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.” Isaiah 65:1 NLT

Whoomp! (There It Is) by Tag Team. Can y’all dig it?

Ever “lost” something that was right in front of you?
Ever “found” something when you weren’t looking? 


Filed under humor, writing & reading

Cassatt, Norton, Bacon

We’re missing three books.

are you in there?

Must have been lost in the move. Incorrectly packed with garden tools, baby toys, Christmas decorations. Shoved into obscurity in the basement or garage. Jumbled mess of relocation.

The coffee table book we bought in Chicago in 1999 was the one that tipped me off. Oversized tome documenting Mary Cassatt’s work. We’d seen her paintings at The Art Institute’s special exhibit that year.

We carried Cassatt home. Held her on the city bus and the elevator up 35 stories to our apartment of blinding white walls. Lugged her to St. Louis. Cordoned her off from the ordinary books. Separated from the pack. And now she is missing.

I hope Norton is with her. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry is fat and stout. Ten-pound bag of sugar. Required reading for a circle of writers, hopeful and green. Emblazoned with red and orange that year, I can still see it.

Long before I had a dog of my own, Norton tagged along, shadowing me. Begging to be played with and petted and fed. I’d scratch his ears, brush his coat, and watch dreams fall out in the shedding. He slept in a basket beside my bed, cushioned with transient catalogs and nonfiction. I hope Norton’s with Cassatt.

And I hope they’ve found Seduced by Bacon. The youngest of the three, this gift from a business colleague. We displayed Bacon in our kitchen. The kitchen we’d demolished. Filled with rubble, chaos, and 90-year-old dust. Rebuilt with fresh dry wall and slate, marble and ceramic subway tiles, wood and stainless steel, and blue paint named Amelia that wasn’t quite green or gray.

Bacon came to us as we hawked the kitchen and its house. No room for another book on such carefully staged, ready-to-show shelves. So Bacon stayed in the kitchen where it belonged. Guests chuckled at its name. A cookbook attesting the truth. “Seduced by Bacon,” they’d say. “Now that’s my problem.”

These three are lost. My heart sinks and drowns, buoyed by weak hope. They’ll turn up. We’ll find them again. Normalcy will come on a day unexpected. On a Monday or Thursday, a day of no consequence, I’ll open a box labeled dish towels and there they will be. Smiling, recovered, taking full breaths of air. They’ll ask me what happened. Where are we now? What took me so long to find them?

And I will answer I don’t know. Today I don’t know.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4 NIV

Norton found

The Lost Get Found, Britt Nicole.


Between the time of writing and publishing this post, I found The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry in a box in the basement. Norton now resides behind the glass doors of a bookshelf in my office where I can keep an eye on him as I work. Cassatt and Bacon are still missing.

Have you ever lost a beloved book or other item? Did you find it again? What was that like, the losing or the finding?


Filed under life, writing & reading

Meet the Skeptic

Today is the National Day of Prayer. There’s a lot of hubbub surrounding the alternative National Day of Reason—as if faith and reason are mutually exclusive. Seems fitting to turn our attention to the skeptics, people who express disbelief of Biblical truth. For that, we call in an expert.

Meet the Skeptic by Bill Foster

Meet the Skepticby friend Bill Foster, reached number one in Amazon’s Science and Religion category earlier this week. Congratulations, Bill!

In Meet the Skeptic, Bill presents skepticism as an opportunity to see where the need for truth lies in each individual. Bill is Gen X, so expect references to pop culture alongside illustrations and Biblical support. All this is packed into a mere 144 pages. You can read that in one sitting, people.

I asked Bill a few questions about his book. He was gracious to share these answers with me.

What inspired you to write this book?

Bill: Two main things. First, my own frustrations in talking with skeptics and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere even when I had answers. Second, realizing there are a lot of apologetics resources out there but people are intimidated by many of them.

What makes this different than other ways to share the Gospel?

Bill: Meet The Skeptic is more about asking the right questions to get underneath surface-level objections than it is about trying to answer every objection. It’s more about understanding worldviews and where a conversation will likely go than it is about regurgitating data. Facts and evidence are always valuable and the more knowledgeable we are about a subject the better. But I think the evidence is best used as supporting information after the skeptic’s worldview is uncovered rather than as lead-off material.

What one thing would you like people to know about sharing the Gospel with the skeptic?

Bill: We don’t need to “win” the discussion. Intellectual arguments alone will never convince anyone, only God can do that. When we engage skeptics and really try to find the deeper obstacles to their faith, we have a better chance at seeing whether or not God is working on them. If He is, great! They may be receptive to truth. But if He’s not, it doesn’t mean that He never will. It just might mean that on this occasion we’re only scratching the surface of hard ground rather than gleaning the harvest.

Find Meet the Skeptic books and study resources on the book’s website and on Amazon. God bless you, Bill, as you aid in the harvest.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:2-3 NIV

I’m For You by TobyMac.

Bill Foster and his wife Karla live in North Carolina. You may remember Karla from Don’t Save the Marshmallows.

In addition to writing and speaking about apologetics, Bill is an accomplished graphic designer, business owner, and publisher.

Follow Bill on his blog, Facebook page, and Twitter @meettheskeptic.

Are faith and reason compatible? Do you consider yourself a person of faith, reason, or both?


Filed under faith, family & friends, writing & reading

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Harold Washington Library owl, image from wikipedia.org

I have a problem with books. I cannot resist them.

The library is a refuge. Not a hangout like in college.

No, I am at peace walking through the aisles alone. Shopping titles. Dining on tables of contents. Being held rapt between stacks.

When we’ve moved to new cities, one of the first places I search out is a good public library. It’s easier to find than a good church. Quickly becomes like a second home.

(Once discovered, a good church does too.)

The huge owls perched on the acroteria of the 10-story Harold Washington Library in Printer’s Row were my guardians during our years in Chicago. Wise, familiar faces watching me arrive and depart on the train.

Now the headquarters branch of the St. Louis County Library shelters my son and I on our weekly pilgrimages.

And the books—they may be composed of dead trees, but they are alive to me.

The trend is electronic. But I like to physically hold the books in my hands. Turn the pages. Bookmark them with receipts, scraps of paper, bits of string.

The books feel earthy, grounded, solid. I breathe in deep and detect traces of turned dirt and soaked roots.

Blame my habit on my mother who introduced me to the High Point Public Library in North Carolina when I was in elementary school.

Empowered me with my own card. Let me check out books about whatever I wanted to read: dinosaurs, UFOs, Mary Quant.

image from amazon.com

I remember the illustration of the lime green extraterrestrial giving me nightmares. I recall the section dedicated to electric blue in “Color by Quant.”

Indirectly, my mom taught me if I have a question, somewhere in a book there is an answer. Or, somewhere in a book there is an admission that there is no answer. At least not one we know yet.

Few goals in parenting are measurable in the short-term if at all. Instilling a love of books, however, cannot help but become apparent.

Early on I toted my child to the library. Empowered him with his own card. Let him check out whatever he wanted to read: dinosaurs, rodents, tsunamis, airplanes, Star Wars.

my son’s library stash

It didn’t take long for him to catch on.

Soon I couldn’t carry all he wanted to take home. We employed his little metal grocery cart. I figure this way he is responsible to carry his own load.

That’s what you learn at the library. To carry your own load. To be responsible for your own learning.

I still check out materials as well. Still gravitate toward non-fiction. Carry my own load. How? I don’t know when I consider the piles amassed at home.

It’s tragic really. I’ll never get to them all before they’re due.

There’s never enough time to read all the books. Same as there’s never enough time to spend with all the friends, plant all the flowers, cook all the recipes, sing all the songs, travel to all the places.

my library stash

But I keep those piles of books on hand. They are close when in spare moments I can indulge in their words. Theirs is a load I carry with pleasure.

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. from Psalm 139:16 NIV

Today is where your book begins. The rest is still Unwritten

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Filed under family & friends, writing & reading