Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island

Submitted by the San Juan Grange and Griffin Bay Bookstore

Make sure you come out to the Grange on Tuesday, April 30, 7 p.m. to hear author Kathleen Alcalá talk about her wonderful exploration of food, agriculture and history on Bainbridge Island.

As friends began “going back to the land” at the same time that a health issue emerged, Alcalá set out to re-examine her relationship with food at the most local level. Remembering her parents, Mexican immigrants who grew up during the Depression, and the memory of planting, growing, and harvesting fresh food with them as a child, she decided to explore the history her Pacific Northwest home.

“In The Deepest Roots,” Alcalá walks, wades, picks, pokes, digs, cooks and cans, getting to know her neighbors on a much deeper level. Wanting to better understand how we once fed ourselves, and acknowledging that there may be a future in which we would need to do so again, she meets those who experienced the Japanese American internment during World War II, and learns the unique histories of the blended Filipino and Native American community, the fishing practices of the descendants of Croatian immigrants, and the Suquamish elder who shares with her the food legacy of the island itself.

Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, “The Deepest Roots” shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.

About the Author

Kathleen Alcalá is the author of a collection of essays, “The Desert Remembers My Name: On Family and Writing”; three novels, including “Treasures in Heaven”; and a book of short stories. She lives on Bainbridge Island.