Whether you’re an old-school hard-cover book reader like me or a full-fledged e-reader convert, reading is so important. And the next best thing to reading books, is talking about books. Book discussions are hotter than ever. This weekend, the Cedar Rapids Library is hosting discussion as part of their ongoing Linn Area Reads project that encourages Linn County residents to read and discuss the same book.

This year, the book is “Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms,” written by Nicolette Hahn Niman. Niman is married to the founder of Niman Ranch, a collection of farms raising livestock and eggs. Niman describes the book as “the tale of my journey through the meat system and from East Coast vegetarian lawyer to West Coast rancher.”

The library is hosting a discussion at the Marion Library at 2 p.m. featuring a panel of farmers and a food planner.
One of the panelists is Jason Russell, a young farmer who was interviewed for a story in this week’s Cedar Rapids Gazette (http://thegazette.com/2012/04/09/linn-area-reads-focuses-on-factory-farms/). This is where things get interesting: Russell and Niman have very different perspectives on hog production and food. But they do share common ground when it comes to making choices that fit your family, your food and your farm.

Disclaimer: I work for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and we are an equal-opportunity farm supporter. We have all kinds of farmer members who raise all types of things, from organic crops to grass-fed beef to modern hog barns to hooping it up in hoop buildings.

Why not check it out if you’re in the area? (And if you’re not a reader, I’m pretty sure that you’re an eater. There’s something there for you!) You can’t go wrong with farmers and books, especially during National Library Week! You can take along your opinions and see if you can add a nugget or two of information to your information arsenal. To learn more about Linn County Reads and this year’s selection, visit http://metrolibrarynetwork.org/linnareareads/.

Written by Heather Lilienthal
Heather is a communications specialist with the Iowa Farm Bureau.