| Tonight was my first "real" stop on my book tour. That is, it was the first event I've done away from home. And, it was a fantastic meetup of food bloggers from this site around from around the web. Anonymous Bosch gave me a tour of a few parts of the city and of his home and garden today (I've got pictures to share later). Then we picked up blogger Natasha Chart of Change.org, who is busy personally proving why we need universal health care (she's limping around on a sprained or broken foot in quite a lot of pain), and headed over to the home of LeeN. Dinner was provided by LeeN (with a bean salad and home made bread from Anonymous Bosch). It was all vegan, mostly gluten free, and 100% delicious. Best of all, several of the fruits and veggies were grown in the gardens of LeeN and Anonymous Bosch. Yum!
From there we rushed over to the Big Blue Marble Bookstore (or hobbled there, in the case of Natasha), where we met bloggers Debtors Prison, Theran, and Tom Laskawy of Beyond Green and Grist. I was worried about whether or not the bookstore would have a CRT monitor or other things that give me migraines (they didn't), but unfortunately they had Natasha's worst nightmare: stairs.
I gave a talk, which seemed to be well received. There was an elderly lady in the front row who had THE MOST expressive face. I wish I could take her on the road with me and put her in the front row everywhere I go. It's hard to talk to a group of people when they are just totally deadpan because you can't tell if they are interested or bored, agreeing with you, disagreeing, or just totally lost.
Towards the end of my talk, a Q&A began somewhat spontaneously, and I think that went well. I can see how things might get ugly in the future though, if (for example) an animal rights activist and a farmer are both in the audience and both interested in speaking up. In this case one woman asked if we should all stop eating meat. Another man spoke up that he was a farmer. Uh-oh, I thought. If one person thinks that it's never OK to kill an animal and another person kills the animals he or she personally eats, that's just not something that can be compromised on. And that sort of thing is rather close to home - some people REALLY cannot agree to disagree about it. The woman mentioned factory farms and growth hormones, and both the farmer and I said "OH NO! Don't eat that!"
My take on meat is that I don't see any reason whatsoever for anyone to eat factory farmed meat, but if we're talking about humanely and sustainably raised meat, then I'm not going to tell anyone not to eat that. Obviously it should be eaten in appropriate quantities if you do choose to eat meat - not only because excessive amounts of meat are not good for you but also because of what it displaces in your diet (fruits and vegetables). But I'm not a nutritionist and I'll leave it to the professionals to say whether it's good or bad for you to eat meat. And I'm also not God, so I can't make anyone else's decision about whether animals should be killed for us to eat them. Neither the farmer nor the woman seemed too offended by my answer. Disaster averted. I think, anyway.
After the talk, I signed a few books, and then went out for beers at Earth Bread + Brewery with Tom Laskawy. If you're ever in the Philly area, GO THERE. And be thirsty!
Thanks Tom for arranging tonight's event, thanks to Big Blue Marble Bookstore for hosting me, thanks to Natasha and Chris Bowers for letting me crash with them here in Philly, thanks to AB & Mrs. AB for their lovely hospitality all day today, and thanks to LeeN for having us all over for dinner (and sorry we were late and then a bit rushed). I'm sorry I won't get to spend more time in Philly because it's such a freaking great city and it's got a surprising concentration of really amazing people (especially people who blog!). Tomorrow I'm headed to Lancaster. And I'm happy about that because I LOVE AMISH PEOPLE! (Seriously... Witness was a totally great movie, and I read this book about the Amish in my freshman anthropology class in college...)