Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America

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In Grocery, bestselling author Michael Ruhlman offers incisive commentary on America's relationship with its food and investigates the overlooked source of so much of itthe grocery store.

In a culture obsessed with food—how it looks, what it tastes like, where it comes from, what is good for us—there are often more questions than answers. Ruhlman proposes that the best practices for consuming wisely could be hiding in plain sight—in the aisles of your local supermarket. Using the human story of the family-run Midwestern chain Heinen's as an anchor to this journalistic narrative, he dives into the mysterious world of supermarkets and the ways in which we produce, consume, and distribute food. Grocery examines how rapidly supermarkets—and our food and culture—have changed since the days of your friendly neighborhood grocer. But rather than waxing nostalgic for the age of mom-and-pop shops, Ruhlman seeks to understand how our food needs have shifted since the mid-twentieth century, and how these needs mirror our cultural ones.

A mix of reportage and rant, personal history and social commentary, Grocery is a landmark book from one of our most insightful food writers.
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About the author

Michael Ruhlman has collaborated on several bestselling cookbooks, including The French Laundry Cookbook, Bouchon, and Alinea. He is the author of critically acclaimed books including The Soul of a Chef, The Elements of Cooking, Ratio, and Ruhlman’s Twenty. Ruhlman writes about food and cooking for the New York Times, Gourmet, Food Arts, and other publications. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City.
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Published on
May 16, 2017
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Business & Economics / Industries / Agribusiness
Cooking / Reference
Social Science / Agriculture & Food
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Eligible for Family Library

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New York Times Bestseller

“Schlosser has a flair for dazzling scene-setting and an arsenal of startling facts . . . Fast Food Nation points the way but, to resurrect an old fast food slogan, the choice is yours.”—Los Angeles Times

In 2001, Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.

In a new afterword for this edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry, and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy, affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think for themselves.

“As disturbing as it is irresistible . . . Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing . . . channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Schlosser shows how the fast food industry conquered both appetite and landscape.”—The New Yorker

Eric Schlosser is a contributing editor for the Atlantic and the author of Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness, and Chew on This (with Charles Wilson).
Aquaponics is a revolutionary system for growing plants by fertilizing them with the waste water from fish in a sustainable closed system. A combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponic gardening is an amazingly productive way to grow organic vegetables, greens, herbs, and fruits, while providing the added benefits of fresh fish as a safe, healthy source of protein. On a larger scale, it is a key solution to mitigating food insecurity, climate change, groundwater pollution, and the impacts of overfishing on our oceans.Aquaponic Gardening is the definitive do-it-yourself home manual, focused on giving you all the tools you need to create your own aquaponic system and enjoy healthy, safe, fresh, and delicious food all year round. Starting with an overview of the theory, benefits, and potential of aquaponics, the book goes on to explain:—System location considerations and hardware components—The living elements—fish, plants, bacteria, and worms—Putting it all together—starting and maintaining a healthy systemAquaponics systems are completely organic. They are four to six times more productive and use ninety percent less water than conventional gardens. Other advantages include no weeds, fewer pests, and no watering, fertilizing, bending, digging, or heavy lifting—in fact, there really is no downside! Anyone interested in taking the next step towards self-sufficiency will be fascinated by this practical, accessible, and well-illustrated guide.Sylvia Bernstein is the president and founder of The Aquaponic Source. An internationally recognized expert on aquaponic gardening, Sylvia speaks, writes, and blogs extensively about this revolutionary technique.
A compelling look at animal welfare and factory farming in the United States from Mercy For Animals, the leading international force in preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
Nathan Runkle would have been a fifth-generation farmer in his small midwestern town. Instead, he founded our nation’s leading nonprofit organization for protecting factory farmed animals. In Mercy For Animals, Nathan brings us into the trenches of his organization’s work; from MFA’s early days in grassroots activism, to dangerous and dramatic experiences doing undercover investigations, to the organization’s current large-scale efforts at making sweeping legislative change to protect factory farmed animals and encourage compassionate food choices.

But this isn’t just Nathan’s story. Mercy For Animals examines how our country moved from a network of small, local farms with more than 50 percent of Americans involved in agriculture to a massive coast-to-coast industrial complex controlled by a mere 1 percent of our population—and the consequences of this drastic change on animals as well as our global and local environments. We also learn how MFA strives to protect farmed animals in behind-the-scenes negotiations with companies like Nestlé and other brand names—conglomerates whose policy changes can save countless lives and strengthen our planet. Alongside this unflinching snapshot of our current food system, readers are also offered hope and solutions—big and small—for ending mistreatment of factory farmed animals. From simple diet modifications to a clear explanation of how to contact corporations and legislators efficiently, Mercy For Animals proves that you don’t have to be a hardcore vegan or an animal-rights activist to make a powerful difference in the lives of animals.
Michael Ruhlman’s groundbreaking New York Times bestseller takes us to the very “truth” of cooking: it is not about recipes but rather about basic ratios and fundamental techniques that makes all food come together, simply.

When you know a culinary ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand.

Why spend time sorting through the millions of cookie recipes available in books, magazines, and on the Internet? Isn’t it easier just to remember 1-2-3? That’s the ratio of ingredients that always make a basic, delicious cookie dough: 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, and 3 parts flour. From there, add anything you want—chocolate, lemon and orange zest, nuts, poppy seeds, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, almond extract, or peanut butter, to name a few favorite additions. Replace white sugar with brown for a darker, chewier cookie. Add baking powder and/or eggs for a lighter, airier texture.

Ratios are the starting point from which a thousand variations begin.

Ratios are the simple proportions of one ingredient to another. Biscuit dough is 3:1:2—or 3 parts flour, 1 part fat, and 2 parts liquid. This ratio is the beginning of many variations, and because the biscuit takes sweet and savory flavors with equal grace, you can top it with whipped cream and strawberries or sausage gravy. Vinaigrette is 3:1, or 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, and is one of the most useful sauces imaginable, giving everything from grilled meats and fish to steamed vegetables or lettuces intense flavor.

Cooking with ratios will unchain you from recipes and set you free. With thirty-three ratios and suggestions for enticing variations, Ratio is the truth of cooking: basic preparations that teach us how the fundamental ingredients of the kitchen—water, flour, butter and oils, milk and cream, and eggs—work. Change the ratio and bread dough becomes pasta dough, cakes become muffins become popovers become crepes.

As the culinary world fills up with overly complicated recipes and never-ending ingredient lists, Michael Ruhlman blasts through the surplus of information and delivers this innovative, straightforward book that cuts to the core of cooking. Ratio provides one of the greatest kitchen lessons there is—and it makes the cooking easier and more satisfying than ever.
An essential update of the perennial bestseller. Charcuterie exploded onto the scene in 2005 and encouraged an army of home cooks and professional chefs to start curing their own foods. This love song to animal fat and salt has blossomed into a bona fide culinary movement, throughout America and beyond, of curing meats and making sausage, pâtés, and confits. Charcuterie: Revised and Updated will remain the ultimate and authoritative guide to that movement, spreading the revival of this ancient culinary craft.

Early in his career, food writer Michael Ruhlman had his first taste of duck confit. The experience “became a fascination that transformed into a quest” to understand the larger world of food preservation, called charcuterie, once a critical factor in human survival. He wondered why its methods and preparations, which used to keep communities alive and allowed for long-distance exploration, had been almost forgotten. Along the way he met Brian Polcyn, who had been surrounded with traditional and modern charcuterie since childhood. “My Polish grandma made kielbasa every Christmas and Easter,” he told Ruhlman. At the time, Polcyn was teaching butchery at Schoolcraft College outside Detroit.

Ruhlman and Polcyn teamed up to share their passion for cured meats with a wider audience. The rest is culinary history. Charcuterie: Revised and Updated is organized into chapters on key practices: salt-cured meats like pancetta, dry-cured meats like salami and chorizo, forcemeats including pâtés and terrines, and smoked meats and fish. Readers will find all the classic recipes: duck confit, sausages, prosciutto, bacon, pâté de campagne, and knackwurst, among others. Ruhlman and Polcyn also expand on traditional mainstays, offering recipes for hot- and cold-smoked salmon; shrimp, lobster, and leek sausage; and grilled vegetable terrine. All these techniques make for a stunning addition to a contemporary menu.

Thoroughly instructive and fully illustrated, this updated edition includes seventy-five detailed line drawings that guide the reader through all the techniques. With new recipes and revised sections to reflect the best equipment available today, Charcuterie: Revised and Updated remains the undisputed authority on charcuterie.

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