Book Review by Sangamithra Iyer
Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful
Eating by Jane Goodall with Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson (Warner Books,
2005). $24.95 hardback. 296 pages.
Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall is responsible for introducing
the world to the culture of chimpanzees, and has been tirelessly traveling
the globe advocating on their behalf for nearly two decades. Goodall’s
work with chimpanzees exposed their tool use, warfare, family relationships,
malevolence and benevolence, and in many ways blurred the line between
chimps and humans. Goodall’s newest book, Harvest for Hope:
A Guide to Mindful Eating is, however, about the one thing that separates
humans and the other apes: the control of our food supply. And how
we choose to eat is perhaps the one thing that is going to save chimpanzees
Dedicated to valiant small farmers and the “billions of animals who live
in torment each year,” Harvest for Hope takes us on a journey of how we
went astray with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, GMOs and patenting of seeds,
and the creation of animal factories, yet offers us a way toward a more promising
Our beloved ‘chimpanzee lady’ talks about farm animals, and what
they endure to provide humans with meat, milk and eggs. Goodall also explores
seafood and its ravaging effect on our oceans. Her 300 days on the road this
year will be spent spreading this message of a more compassionate palate. Goodall
fans from around the world will learn about her personal transformation to vegetarianism
after learning about factory farms: “When I saw meat on my plate, from
that moment on, I should think of pain—fear—death.”
The book encourages those who still choose to eat meat, to eat less and only
organic, grass-fed, ‘humanely raised’ livestock, or wild-caught seafood.
A “Go Vegetarian” chapter follows this section. While these messages
may not be anything new (or very bold) to the already ethical vegans among us,
the information is presented in clear, simple terms, which makes an excellent
resource for discussing these topics with others.
Furthermore, Goodall forces us to really think about the resources used and waste
generated by our own consumption habits and encourages us to buy organic and
local, shop at farmers markets or food cooperatives, or join a community supported
agriculture program and encourage your local restaurants to do the same. It’s
a constant reminder of that childhood lesson, “waste not, want not.” Plus,
you might learn a thing or two about what’s wrong with bottled water, the
differences between shallow and deep organic, and the implications of major food
corporations taking over organic brands.
Jane Goodall, as always, offers hope. From highlighting individuals like Percy
Schmeiser and his fight against Monsanto or her own nephew’s change to
vegetarianism at the age of four, Goodall demonstrates the importance of the
individual in creating change. From profiling John Ellis’s Centerville
Farmer’s Market in Nebraska to Ethiopia’s attempt to promote organic
farmers, improve soil quality and develop local market infrastructure, Harvest
for Hope shows us another world is possible.
Goodall’s personal anecdotes from her childhood in post-WWII England, her
life at Gombe stream, her observation of animal behavior in the Serengeti, and
her travels around the world are interspersed throughout these chapters. She
makes all the necessary connections between our lifestyle in the developed world,
which is increasingly being exported to the developing world, and its impact
on our health, environment and our future. If we want to adequately address world
hunger, we need to redesign our current food infrastructure. If we really care
about people, animals, or our planet, change begins on our plate.
That Jane Goodall, our world famous ambassador for chimps, is now spreading
a subtle but urgent message of mindful eating, vegetarianism, and compassion
farmers and farmed animals is itself a harvest for hope.