Renee Catacalos’s collection of research material for her book, On Our Plates: Eating Local in the Chesapeake Region

Renee Catacalos (University Park, MD) is writing a book about the local food systems of the Chesapeake Bay. She uses the upstairs studio’s long table to display all kinds of research – books for reference, images, notes, and parts of her manuscript, are arranged so she can view all her materials at once. From seed to table setting, Renee works to illuminate the otherwise opaque system of food production for the culinary layperson. Every few days she follows her research to a local farm or market in the Back Creek area, interviewing farmers about their process in growing and distributing food to nearby markets, while also enjoying local flavors. The framework of the book is dedicated to eating within a 150-mile radius. She asks: what are the food systems within this radius’s watershed? What are the economic dimensions? How are food policies made? What is the viability of farms and for an entire community to feed itself? Renee arrived at North Mountain with a partial draft of her manuscript, and used the time to rewrite and expand it. She feels confident of its value as part of the broader food and health justice conversation, “It’s not just my product, but everyone’s that helped build it through conversation.” Renee will be delivering the manuscript to John Hopkins University Press for editorial review this fall.