Local author Joan Baxter is launching her newest book, Seven Grains of Paradise: A Culinary Journey in Africa, on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. at Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery in River John.

Tatamagouche’s Joan Baxter is launching her latest book, Seven Grains of Paradise: A Culinary Journey in Africa, at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery in River John.

The launch begins at 7 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the book store owned and operated by children’s author Sheree Fitch and her husband, Gilles Plante. This will be the first book to be launched at Fitch’s book store, located on the Allen Road.

Fitch is pleased to host the launch because Baxter is a “local writer and a friend” and she believes this book has “global significance.”

Baxter, who has spent more than three decades living, writing and working in several African countries, is “thrilled” to be launching this book, her sixth, in rural Nova Scotia. She describes the launch location as “beyond magical,” thanks to “the incredible imagination, energy, enthusiasm and efforts that Fitch and Plante invested to create what is sure to become a major literary and tourism destination for the entire province, if not the entire country and beyond.”

She describes her book as a “celebration of African foods, farms, farmers, crops, cooks and cuisines.” And while it may fly in the face of many global media headlines, she says, “Africa has much to teach the world about healthy eating. Of the ten countries with the healthiest diets on earth, nine are African, some of them among the monetarily poorest nations on earth.”

“Seven Grains of Paradise” draws on stories collected over the more than three decades that Baxter worked, lived and learned in Africa. It explores the riddle of a continent that is known more for hunger than for its rich and diverse foods and cuisines, and for having discovered and bred many of the staple foods and drinks consumed daily around the world.

The culinary journey of learning, eating and drinking takes readers from the fabled city of Timbuktu on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, to the diamond fields of Sierra Leone, from the savannah of northern Ghana to the rainforests of Central Africa.

It pays homage to the farmers, cooks and friends who schooled, guided and mentored her along the way.

Baxter says the book doesn’t shy away from the very real problems of food insecurity, hunger or malnutrition brought on by conflict, poverty, unfair trade and climate change, which today plague not just Africa but many other parts of the world.

“While the book focuses on the immense potential of family farming and locally produced food in Africa, it also documents the growing risks they face,” she said.