Flip through the pages of “Edible,” and a fairly utopian picture of American food emerges. Land and sea are sustainably harvested, producers, chefs and growers look happy in their work and even the farm animals seem content.

But the book provides a real snapshot of 65 communities across the country and in Canada and Europe. They are identified by the independently run, regional food magazines that make up Edible Communities Inc., a Santa Fe, N.M., company founded in 2002 by co-authors Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian.

Topalian is the photographic journalist who spent the past six years shooting the images in “Edible,” while Ryder watched over the book’s evolution for almost three years. Although the book could have been a compilation from the magazines, about 75 percent of the material and 50 percent of the recipes are new.

The first section provides those colorful, beautiful images and profiles of local heroes: the Thacher family of Ojai, Calif., who bring us Pixie tangerines and Vaniglia Sanguigno blood oranges; Mary Forstbauer, a biodynamic farmer in Vancouver, B.C.; Tanya Cauthen of Belmont Butchery in Richmond, Va.; and the Seed Savers Exchange in the Iowa River Valley.

The cumulative effect of reading their stories is more powerful than following the discourse from today’s food elite. There’s good stuff going out there, and “Edible” can help you find it. Sources listed at the end of chapter as “People, places, things” offer further mentions of activists, dietitians, restaurateurs and vintners.

Recipes fill the book’s second section and are seasonally organized. Just about every one of them is contained on a single page, which is good.

The book adds depth to a growing Edible franchise that includes radio and podcasts from food luminaries such as Deborah Madison and Tom Philpott. Television can’t be far behind.

“Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods,” by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, Wiley, 2010, $29.95, 80 recipes.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.