Jane Goodall’s “Harvest for Hope” Selected for Freshmen Read

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She braved the wilds of Tanzania, revolutionized an entire branch of zoology, and founded an international conservation society. She is Jane Goodall, the scientist, chimpanzee expert and author of 2006’s “Harvest for Hope,” the freshman book choice for next year.

After this year’s politically-charged “Three Cups of Tea,” Goodall’s “Harvest for Hope” urges us back to our kitchens and supermarkets. Employing her roots as an anthropologist and conservationist, Goodall explores the world’s tumultuous relationship with food. Factory farming, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and Burger King are just some of the topics she addresses. Essentially, the book is a levelheaded battle cry for local agriculture, organic food, and mindful eating.

A committee comprised of faculty, librarians and student representatives chose the book because it addresses economic and environmental justice. Though the committee considered the topic for this year, the possible books were, according to program director Professor Fredel Wiant, “fascinating…but not very readable,” and the final pick went to “Harvest for Hope.”

With today’s economy, environmental and economic justice are even more important. “Nutrition is a serious problem,” said Wiant. One can buy a week’s worth of organic, local food, but when she tried this lifestyle, “the bill was exorbitant. That’s where the economic justice comes in.”

As for the incoming freshmen, Wiant hopes that the book will “spark discussion and maybe even some controversy” among them. There are no easy answers for the food industry—from the controversy over genetically engineered produce to the economic viability of local agriculture, debates rage on. At the very least, the book is something “students can relate to.”

At the same time, “Harvest for Hope” should not scare off less environmentally-savvy readers, or even those who might disagree with Goodall. “For the most part I think [Goodall’s] open-minded,” said Wiant. “One good way to alienate an audience is to never make concessions.”

Wiant also sees the integration possibilities of “Harvest for Hope” extending well beyond certain freshmen classes, to possibilities such as collaborating with Bon Appétit and promoting locally-grown food.

Bon Appétit already follows some of the practices advised by Goodall. “We push local as much as possible,” said manager Holly Winslow. “If our president had to choose between local or organic, he’d go local.”

Actual plans for bringing the book into the community are still in their early stages, and the committee plans to establish more contacts.

Some USF freshmen have already encouraged the book choice for the incoming class. Ariana Fischer, an undeclared freshman, sees the book’s issues as “the next step in solving obesity, global warming and the collapse of local economies.”

To freshman architecture major François Toves, “Harvest for Hope” “represents the city a lot. It’s a good introduction to what [freshmen] will experience in the city.”

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