Book Review: The Locavore Way

      Posted On: January 10, 2010

In many ways, Amy Cotler’s newest book, The Locavore Way, reads as a love letter to local eating, poetically describing the beauty and necessity of local food—on page 8, for example, she writes: “local food is different because of the way it bonds us to our families and friends, neighborhoods, community, and region, grounding us in what often seems a detached and fragmented world.”

However, Cotler aims not only to inspire her reader to buy locally but also to provide clear and easy-to-follow advice on how to purchase and prepare food that is good for one’s health, the health of the community, and the health of the planet, creating a book that reads as both a collection of musings on and a practical guide to eating locally. This concept quickly proves to be quite ambitious—topics such as the evils of industrial farming, the local vs. organic debate, the organization of CSAs, and how to start a home garden each merit entire books of their own, leaving Cotler’s coverage of some of these in her small, smartly illustrated book somewhat cursory.

Still, while the seasoned locavore may be inclined to skip a few of the guide’s more introductory chapters, the book is a charming primer for those uninitiated in the ways of local eating. Its unpretentious, familiar writing style can have even the most die-hard farmers market-phobe choosing between heirloom tomato cultivars and sautéing fiddleheads in no time at all, making this a perfect choice as a gift for a friend or loved one who’d like to better understand your passion for local food.

The book would also be a great fundraiser for farmers markets, which can purchase the books at a discount on the $12.95 retail price. The chapter on farmers markets is particularly well-crafted, beginning with advice on how to prepare for and navigate one’s first farmers market excursion, transitioning into a discussion about seasonality and producer-only markets, and finishing with a beautifully-written description of New York farmer Elizabeth Ryan’s adventures in farming and selling at local markets. The chapter also quotes FMC board member Janel Leatherman as well as other farmers market leaders.

Even though some readers may find that the book provides an overly basic coverage of topics pertaining to local eating, it is worth a look by even the most well-versed local eater simply due to its artful ability to interweave heartfelt narrative and anecdotes about food and farming with practical issues regarding local food, reminding us all of the close connection between the how and the why of eating locally. And for those new to the locavore lifestyle, The Locavore Way may just prove to be indispensable.

Visit the author’s website at

To order The Locavore Way at a discount price for your farmers market or organization, contact Tina Parent, Storey Publishing, 800-827-7444 ext. 2175.