Recent North End Book Launch Offers Food for Thought

On Thursday, September 8th Haligonians gathered at the North End public library for the launch of Patrick Kerans’ new book entitled A Pessimist’s Hope: Food and the Ecological Crisis.

Kerans presented the major themes of the book and read key passages, including the final paragraph which calls for hope in the face of the grave challenges facing the current industrial food system. As Kerans argues, “…hope does not bring comfort; it calls for courage. It consists in communal action, arising from gritty commitment, against all odds”.

The major themes explored by this new book include an analysis of how our economic system, with its call for unlimited growth, has changed the face of agriculture from community-based mix family farms to industrial scale factory farming. Kerans also explores the role that genetic engineering has played in the race towards increased efficiency and progress; namely, that we have sacrificed health and environmental concerns for the sake of economic growth.

Although many of the themes explored in this book are bleak, Kerans also discusses the world-wide movements to not only relocalize agriculture but to reimagine and transform culture. Following Kerans’ presentation, we were invited to engage on a dialogue about the book and the relevant themes. The evening ended on a hopeful note, with a lively discussion about the various ways restorative action can take place. All in all, Kerans’ book serves up a healthy portion of hope, yet does not sugar coat or downplay the severe challenges that face our food system and our society.

To learn more about Pessimist’s Hope: Food and the Ecological Crisis, please visit


Many thanks to Chloe, one of our Food Action Committee volunteers, for this book review.

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