Food for thought: One Book: One Town kicks off

By Sarah Meyer, Freedom New Mexico

The Portales community is invited to participate in “One Book: One Town” beginning with an introductory meeting at 7 p.m. Friday at the Portales Public Library.

The activity is one of the events surrounding a Smithsonian Institute exhibit now on display at Eastern New Mexico University’s Golden Library.

Denise Burnett, Portales Public Library director, is organizing the “One Book, One Town” activity.

“The idea is that everyone in the community gets together, reads a book and discusses it,” she said.

Betty Williamson, who lives in the Pep/Milnesand area, said she hopes to participate.

“I just really like the idea of the community getting together and reading the same book,” she said. “It’s a great way to open a discussion.”

The book selected is “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” by Eric Schlosser, published in 2001.

The traveling Smithsonian exhibit, “Key Ingredients, America By Food,” celebrates food and how it has shaped American culture. It also deals with how the food we eat and the way it is prepared and processed has changed over the years.

According to a review by, Schlosser’s book discusses the ubiquitous consumption of fast food, a brief history of fast food, conditions for workers in fast food restaurants, factory farms that produce the raw foods, slaughterhouses and the unsanitary practices in food processing, and the dangers of fast food — obesity and disease.

Williamson said she has read other books by Schlosser and “Fast Food Nation” promises to be interesting.

“It really ties in with our times and with the food exhibit,” she said.

During the introductory meeting, participants will learn more about the purpose of the community activity, said Burnett.

“We will give them just a little taste,” she said. The discussion will be held at 7 p.m. March 31, again at the library.

“Anyone and everyone is welcome,” said Burnett.

During the discussion, some guiding questions will be provided, but most of the ideas will come from participants.

“It makes reading a book much more fun,” Burnett said.

“I think people will enjoy it,” said Williamson.

Several copies of the book will be available to check out, she said.

The exhibit and the events surrounding it are co-sponsored by ENMU, Roosevelt County Extension and the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce.