by Katie Johnson, Slow Books team member
Slow Food USA nurtures food justice through being a weaver of communities, a disruptor of injustice, a builder of relationships and a storyteller of our diverse foodways. This month, we’re going to explore each of those roles we play. As Storytellers, we tell stories of food, people and places.
It is often said that books can be windows, mirrors and doors. Reading and sharing stories allows us to look out onto our world and observe — sometimes reflecting our own views back upon us, other times opening a door to a perspective we couldn’t see prior, or even figuratively transplanting us to another place entirely. After all, “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” (A quote attributed to author Jhumpa Lahiri)
Since 2019, the Slow Books committee has been the literary lighthouse for Slow Food USA, reviewing and selecting recommended reads that intersect with our movement. The Slow Books curation team may be small (Cedar, Katie, Margaret, Tammy), but we span across the network – hailing from the Southwest, Midwest, and New England. Beyond geography, we each bring different world views, backgrounds, experiences and ideas to our monthly book recommendations (which you can find on Slow Food USA’s website and on our Bookshop.org store).
This is also why, if you’ve been following and/or reading along, you’ve seen a variety in the range of books chosen for our network-wide read-along series, where we’ve read a book about anti-racism, another about indigenous wisdom, a cookbook focused on grains and beans, and a young adult novel about a talented high-school chef in training who is also a teen mom. Slow Food seeks to preserve biodiversity by saving seeds and eating endangered ingredients as a means to keep them on our plates. As advocates for Slow Food ideals of good, clean and fair, we share and engage with stories and resources to preserve the wealth of diversity that reflects us — and challenges us to seek out stories that are not our own as well.
This gets to the very heart of why I became a Slow Food USA member. I wanted to align myself with others who shared these ideals, but also engage with stories and experiences that help me to travel beyond my own world view. Luckily, both the Slow Food USA network and the stories the Slow Books committee shares, help me traverse these landscapes both familiar and foreign, sometimes without even leaving the comfort of my own home by cracking open one of the Slow Books committee’s recommended reads.
Katie has been involved with the Slow Food Network for nearly a decade, beginning as a guest blog writer for her local chapter and later serving in a board leadership position. Throughout her career and personal life, the written word has been a guidepost leading her to obtain a master’s in library and information science. As a former independent bookseller and library lover, she is thrilled to be combining these two worlds she loves most — books and food — as a Slow Books curator, and enjoys adding to her never ending “to be read” pile with recommended titles from her fellow curators as well as the wider network.