When Simran Sethi contacts you for the first time, it’s an unforgettable moment. This is apparent in the stories within the pages of her new book and is also my own experience.
2013: In her first call to me, we discovered connections we shared with journalism and writing, our common ties to India and Kansas (who else has these places in common?), and our newfound love for biodiversity. She wanted to write a book about agricultural biodiversity and could I help set up interviews with scientists at Bioversity International to talk about it?
When Simran contacted me, I was the communications head of Bioversity International, working with a fantastic communications team to share what biodiversity is and why it matters. I loved my work and the people I worked with. I will never forget how Simran’s book journey affected me – the questions she asked about my work and biodiversity, the insights she shared about her research and book, the friends she introduced me to in Rome, the gelato and wine and laughs.
2016: Forward several years and many emails and meetings later to her book signing in Charlotte, N.C. I will never forget the moment of watching Simran sign my copy of her book: “Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.” I watched as she took time with each and every person who approached her at the signing: those who had heard her on WFAE Charlotte Talks, the woman who shared her own craft chocolate, the man who shared an article he wanted Simran to read, the high school friend, many more friends and family, and me – the girl who met her in person in Italy. Before the signing was over, the bookstore sold out of her book.
I never expected I’d be thanked in her book. But she did – she thanked drivers and scientists and farmers and family and people like me who set up interviews and ate gelato with her. More importantly, she wrote an important book that is personally and professionally important to me. It represents much of my own journey learning about and communicating about agricultural biodiversity. Simran serves up a delectable number of reasons we should savor biodiversity, from a distinctly American perspective. She makes this a conversation of conservation. She puts a face and name to people around the world who produce food. This dialogue is important for everyone, because we all eat and yet we are losing foods we love through the loss of diversity.
I came home from her book signing and savored this moment, this book, this author, this friend. I opened the treasure and started reading again. I poured myself a glass of wine, broke some bread I had made and snapped off a square of fine chocolate gifted to me. I made sure to notice each bite and sip, to savor the moment. Why? Well, you need to buy and read the book.