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Change Comes to Dinner

How Vertical Farmers, Urban Growers, and Other Innovators Are Revolutionizing How America Eats

Katherine Gustafson

St. Martin's Griffin

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ISBN10: 0312577370
ISBN13: 9780312577377

Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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A National Multiple Sclerosis Society Green Book for a Better Life

Change Comes to Dinner takes readers into the farms, markets, organizations, businesses and institutions across America that are pushing for a more sustainable food system in America.

Gustafson introduces food visionaries like Mark Lilly, who turned a school bus into a locally-sourced grocery store in Richmond, Virginia; Gayla Brockman, who organized a program to double the value of food stamps used at Kansas City, Missouri, farmers' markets; Myles Lewis and Josh Hottenstein, who started a business growing vegetables in shipping containers using little water and no soil; and Tony Geraci, who claimed unused land to create the Great Kids Farm, where Baltimore City public school students learn how to grow food and help Geraci decide what to order from local farmers for breakfast and lunch at the city schools.


Praise for Change Comes to Dinner

"Katherine Gustafson is a troubadour for sustainable food, inviting us to jump into her rental car as she maps the inspiring alternative food system emerging across the United States. And here's a pleasant surprise: we don't spend any time in the privileged bubbles of Brooklyn or Berkeley; Gustafson's expansive and hopeful portrait puts the rest of America back in the picture. Change Comes To Dinner shows us the outline of a sane food system: now it's up to us to fill it in."—Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine

"In her wildly successful cross-country search for alternatives to our industrialized food system, Katherine Gustafson comes up with a terrific new word: 'hoperaking,' the gathering of inspiration (and the opposite of muckraking). The people whose work she describes here should inspire anyone to get busy and start planting."—Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU and author of What to Eat

"The rise of the local food movement is the single most encouraging trend in America in the last decade—Katherine Gustafson is reporting from the cutting edge. A deliciously important book!"—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"It would have been enough if Katie Gustafson had simply captured the inspiration and energy inherent to America's sustainable food revolution. But she does much more than that, writing with a keen eye for detail and wisely recognizing that good food writing isn't really about food: It's about the people behind it."—Ben Hewitt, author of The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

"Gustafson has a knack for tracking down everyday people with big ideas. Ideas that could really change our future . . . Leaving environmental gain as a potential perk to an already-winning system gives Gustafson's argument a bulletproof quality. It also frees her to investigate under-examined issues, like dynamics between race, class, and access to healthy food. As for Gustafson's hoperaking goal, mission accomplished."—UTNE Reader

"A highly worthwhile read . . . quality journalism to motivate the most apathetic of us to buy local, organic and seasonal."

"Gustafson's personable approach to a sometimes-controversial topic results in a modulated argument for a food economy that is neither anti-corporate nor solely in favor of small businesses. This is a work of realistic assessments, featuring moments of inspiring optimism."—Kirkus

"Essential, inspiring read for those interested in food production and politics and the complicated, essential roles both play in our social welfare."—Booklist

"Both inspiring and realistic, Gustafson's book provides a hopeful assessment of the possibility of big changes in the U.S. food system."—Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


School Bus Farm Market

An unusual small business brings farm-fresh to the city

MY HOPERAKING JOURNEY BEGAN, like so many voyages of discovery do, on an old yellow school bus. This bus...

About the author

Katherine Gustafson

KATHERINE GUSTAFSON is an award-winning writer, journalist and editor whose articles and essays have been published in numerous print and online media. She has written about sustainable food, among other topics, for Yes! Magazine, The Huffington Post, Civil Eats,, and Tonic. She lives with her husband in the Washington, DC, area.