There's a tendency among activists these days to see their focus as the solution to all the world's problems. For one author, feminism envelopes all issues; for another communism (or capitalism) does. For others, it's Christianity.
As an avid, beginning gardener, I understand the appeal, but I feel like the connection between world peace and gardening wasn't adequately argued in the book. Having scrounged myself a piece of a neighbor's yard, I expected that this would be a good book to get me started on a practical bent. However, I found that the idealism often prevented extensive practical advice which is necessary for the beginner. Perhaps advanced gardeners can "make space for all plant species" and can't recommend one species above another, but there was limited - almost non-existent - acknowledgment that some species are easier to grow than others, and some are more useful in terms of food production, especially if space is extremely limited. For a first "food" garden, would I be better off growing potatoes? Tomatoes? Spinach?
I found the transition from garden-related activism to community activism quite rocky. I wish the sections on seed-saving and connecting with neighbors were expanded. On a personal level, I found many of the asides (which I will paraphrase as "well, *of course* all right-minded people agree that ____________") were off-putting, as hard-core radical leftists are not the only ones who are interested in producing clean, local food and making communities. I was also troubled by the exhortations to get rid of appliances, go vegetarian, and dumpster scavenge to save the environment, while at the same time suggesting extensive driving (to farms, to dumpsters, around town, between bakeries).
All that aside, Food Not Lawns is an interesting read. It's a bit like reading a brainstorming session, which politics and communication and personal stories and food info is interspersed. It is clear the author is passionate about her subject, and believes in the process. In a sense, it is a very second-wave book - before the post-post modern doubts and hyper self-awareness. It's refreshing, and combined with sources of practical horticultural information, would be a good read for any radical gardener.