what kind of book could any have us have written if we were only pedestrian observers and not full-time participants in this industry? this grafted, partial section of the industry?
michaele didn't write a perfect book, whatever the hell that is, and sure there are the misspellings and some factual glitches. i don't think she claims omniscience, and i don't think she ever states or implies she has her finger on the pulse of the whole industry. ok her editor missed some stuff and a few things look rushed to press. but is that the extent of the criticism? prolly not.
she knows she only focusses on a fraction of those involved - disproportionately male, young and white (as is much of this end of production). she took on a section, a fraction, of the quality industry. she sparks a few more conversations, she provokes a few arguments. what else should one book, one author, do? especially when she wades into it green and new.
at present, there is a dearth of this type of informal, 'mainstream' maybe, literature concerning things only partially explored but at least given mention in the book (fair trade and direct; cultural blind spots bred of inexperience and ignorance of local cultures and ways of being; organizational disasters within some co-ops and unions; sexism; free market money raining from the sky and the ensuing scramble; etc etc). with the exception of what is said in private and some of what can be accessed on-line, sequestered from the casual but potentially interested public, these issues suffer from lack of debate and intellectual rigor even within this industry. in my opinion, we often look to the forums, blogs, industry mags, and odd nytimes piece to see 'our' industry represented, and at times it seems new, premature and odd from lack of greater exposure and commentary. the former can be impoverished by insiderism and the necessity of acting within the lines of what our employers will tolerate or our competitors not take offense to/with. all due respect to barista mag or other trade mags, but it is not exactly their mandate to interrogate some of the stars of the show. on the other hand, nytimes and other mainstream press coverage is often as full of the stated inaccuracies or the always annoying, recently aquired and brandished 'knowledge'.
has michaele taken it all on? nah. she wrote a book that a foodie and accomplished writer - in this case a dedicated food lover, with an eye for celebrated ritual and craft - who is on a new assignment, writes. she is obviously enamoured by a lot of it, mystified by some of it, and turned off by some more. add partially informed on a bit, but as i said, she just walked in. hell, i know a shit-load of us that have spoke too loud, too early, or stayed mum when we should be saying something to put our necks out. stand with our words.
funny, now i don't want to post this. ah well.