‘One-book’ project launched in Summit County
“What’s for dinner?” It’s a question we ask pretty much daily, but we rarely think about it on levels deeper than a basic answer: “frozen pizza.” (OK, for those of you who like to cook, and actually have the time, it might be “chicken cordon bleu,” or something a little fancier.)
Michael Pollan’s explores the question thoroughly from a perspective of how we’re choosing the food we consume: Do we favor organic, industrial or food we might grow (or even hunt for) ourselves?
The book has caused plenty of controversy, but it’s also on plenty of people’s reading lists, though to librarian Joyce Dierauer’s knowledge, no local book club has taken on the subject – or at least, no one’s requested 10 copies of the book.So a group spearheaded by Dierauer, Mary Anne Johnston and Alex Miller decided to roll out a new community-wide mission called Summit Reads. Based on similar projects going on throughout the nation, they invite you to read Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” and attend events and facilitated discussions, the first of which will take place from 10 a.m. to noon April 7 at The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco (see related box).
Pollan also wrote a young adult version of the book, called It’s geared for kids as young as 8 to understand food issues. (Dieraurer searched for a Spanish version but couldn’t find one.)
“In researching one-book initiatives, we noticed a lot of communities do classics like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ or newer bestsellers with cultural ramifications like ‘The Help,'” Miller said. “But when we started kicking around book titles, Pollan’s book was really an ‘a-ha’ moment because it just makes so much sense for a place like Summit County where health and nutrition are so important to the community. So not only do we have a great book to read and discuss, we were able to link other groups in the county that connect to this material.”One main group is High Country Conservation Center.”We’re trying to inspire people to be interested in community gardens and the local food movement … to see why it’s important to connect to food in the first place,” said Jennifer Santry, executive director. “To me, (Summit Reads) is an excuse to come together and start talking about this important subject, which is food.”The conservation center is adding a new community garden at Dillon Valley Elementary School this spring, in addition to the three staff and volunteers already have established: the Living Classroom greenhouse and community garden at the center on Frisco’s Main Street, Nancy’s Community Garden at the Community and Senior Center, and Silvana’s, by the Silverthorne Recreation Center.”The book is a good fit because it dives into several aspects the community might be interested in, (from) eating local to healthy to environmental aspects,” Santry said.Dierauer agrees.”One of the big things a lot of people have shown interest in is the local food movement,” she said, adding that when the Speakeasy Theatre showed “Food, Inc.,” based on Pollan’s book, it had a great turnout.
Summit County librarians have kicked around the idea of a countywide reading program for years, but the process was “bigger than the library could handle,” Dierauer said.Then, last summer, Miller, Dierauer and Johnston started talking at a Rotary Club of Summit County meeting. As chair of the Rotary Literacy Committee, Johnston is always looking for ways to increase enthusiasm and passion about reading, she said. Most of the library’s and Rotary’s efforts have targeted kids, so everyone was eager to involve adults.Dierauer encouraged focusing on a nonfiction title, saying, “To be totally truthful, I don’t like to read novels and (then) dissect them,” adding that Denver programs have experienced on-and-off success with community reading projects revolving around novels. “This is something new and different.”And as Johnston points out, “It certainly is provocative in the sense that it raises lots of issues around food,” she said. “No matter which position you take, we thought it would be of interest to people.”In fact, the topic is so hot on a national level that Pollan is booked solid, so they couldn’t schedule him to speak in Summit County.Limited copies of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” are available at Summit County Libraries in print, large print and e-book formats. Local bookstores are also selling copies at a reduced price.”We hope that this will take off and people will like it and we can do it every year,” Dierauer said.Participating sponsors include the Summit County Libraries, Friends of the Summit County Libraries, The Summit Daily News, Rotary Club of Summit County, High Country Conservation Center, Summit Prevention Alliance, Silvana’s Garden, The Next Page Bookstore, Borders, Uncle John’s Farm Stand and the Breckenridge Film Festival. “The Summit Daily is a strong supporter of literacy in Summit County, so the ‘one book’ idea really appeals to us,” Miller said. “We’re also big on anything that helps build a stronger community, that gets people talking.”
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