Review: 'Foodshed' teaches readers to know their farmer

2013-08-25T00:00:00Z 2013-10-03T16:44:05Z Review: 'Foodshed' teaches readers to know their farmerBy CHRISTINE TWITO For The Gazette The Billings Gazette
August 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

“Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet”

dee Hobsbawn-Smith

TouchWood Editions


In “Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet,” author dee Hobsbawn-Smith honors farmers and food purveyors from Alberta, Canada, to support her premise: “You know your doctor, you know your lawyer, you know your accountant. Who’s your farmer?” She alphabetically showcases products and producers. So the book begins with “A is for asparagus,” which includes the story of Edgar Farms and a recipe for an asparagus roll. “P is for pork” describes First Nature Farms and offers a recipe for pork pate. “Z is for zizania (wild rice)” and explores Lakeland Wildrice Ltd. with a recipe for zizania and cranberry risotto.

Hobsbawn-Smith’s stories about the farms and families that run them convey the labor of love that goes into growing, harvesting and marketing all the crops and meats, including beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, elk and pork. Each family history makes for good reading, and details multigenerational growers as well as the newbies who started due to the organic trend.

I learned that unless I know my farmer, I have no idea how my food is grown, what my meat is fed, or the process used to get edibles to my table.

In the second, very small part of the book, Hobsbawn-Smith covers facts and figures related to sustainability, environmental issues, animals, grasses, government involvement and labor. She also covers finding local food and home cooking. While many of the details concerning laws, licensing and land are specific to Alberta, provincial governance and oversight made me aware of questions applicable to our country and locale. What hormones are allowed and additives used in the food in my community? Throughout Foodshed, Hobsbawn-Smith supports her belief that “the most nutrient-dense food comes from animals raised and finished on grass and plants raised without chemicals.”

A finalist in the new culinary arts category of the High Plains Book Awards, “Foodshed” is less cookbook — though it contains 26 recipes — and more treatise on the importance of knowing where our food comes from and how it is grown and raised. Although the sources are all Canadian, the book was thought-provoking and relatable to life in Montana.


Beginning her career as a high school English teacher in Minneapolis, Christine Twito retired as a fundraiser in Billings. Along the way she learned to love cooking and entertaining and now enjoys baking with her grandchildren, Emma and Max.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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