Vegetable Literacy

So, vegetable literacy is a thing. Apparently.

Admittedly, I threw a big eye roll when I read the title of this book. Add vegetable literacy to the list including financial literacy, visual literacy, digital literacy, and information literacy. But then, I read the description, and I read a review on a cooking blog that I like, and I changed my tune a fraction. I still hate the title, but it makes sense when you know what it’s about. Here’s a bit from the review at 101 Cookbooks:

Deborah’s new book explores the relationships between vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers within the same botanical families. So, for example, if you understand that buckwheat, rhubarb, and sorrel are all part of the Knotweed family, it might impact how you consider use them…. Understanding these relationships directly impacts how you think about using these ingredients.

Deborah Madison is an extremely well respected chef specializing in vegetables. This premise, that understanding botanical families can help you “read” your vegetables and use them in better, more effective ways fits the definition of fill-in-the-blank literacy very well. It makes perfect sense. It doesn’t mean I have to like the title of the book.

I’ve said it before: I don’t think that librarians have a corner on the word “literacy.” At the same time, I have a very visceral reaction whenever I hear the word used that nearly causes my eyes to roll out of my head. I believe totally in fill-in-the-blank literacy. Asking great questions, being curious, and leveraging what we know to catapult us into the unknown are things I could happily wave a banner for. And yet. And yet. I can’t quite pin down the source of my dislike of the word “literacy” and they way it gets tossed around. What do you think? Anybody else have a similar reaction?

With a significant portion of our student body focused on culinary arts (and a library with over 1000 cookbooks!), we will be purchasing this book for our library. I still don’t like the title.

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