Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Nation of Farmers

Before I began blogging, I lurked at other people's blogs. I roamed the green blogosphere and soaked up everything I could on Climate Change, mass extinctions, Peak Oil, and such. One of my favorite blogs to hang out was at Sharon Astyk's Casaubon's Book.

At that time, Sharon had not yet become a published author. Then, she was just a prolific blogger. Very prolific. Every other day or so, she wrote a long tome about Peak Oil, living on a farm, low energy living and all other kinds of topics that made me think but even more made my stomach hurt. And, while I thought Sharon was probably right when she intimated that "this is the end of the world as we know it", I got tired of walking around with a burgeoning ulcer and a overheated heartbeat.

I quit reading Casaubon's Book (though I do take a peek from time to time). She's still writing those wonderfully long and thoughtful posts that will make you lose sleep . . . or plant a vegetable garden that can adapt to climate change or can something or learn a new skill like knitting or sewing. Any way, I moved on to other bloggers and began writing my own blog. I planted a Victory Garden in my front yard. I flexed my cooking muscles. I started knitting again. I trimmed my waste line. And I didn't question where some motivation might have come from.

Sharon has published two books since I abandoned Casaubon's Book. I reviewed the first, Depletion and Abundance, here earlier this year. It was vintage Sharon. Easy to read. Prolific. A little "end of the world" for me. Felt like a compilation of her blog posts rather than new material.

I hesitated to pick up her second book, A Nation of Farmers, from the library last month. I sort of figured that I could just stop into Casaubon's Book for my Sharon fix.

I'm glad I ignored my first instinct.

A Nation of Farmers is far from the heavy rhetoric and instructional root cellaring of Sharon of old. Instead of focusing on how to grow food on several acres in upstate New York, this book brings food growing - and even more importantly food cooking - to all of us. Even me on my oh so tiny lot in the urban Bay Area. Sharon and her co-author, Aaron Newton detail why it is so important for this country, this planet, to have a million new farmers and two million new cooks. Where we, as a nation, went wrong and how far off we really are. How we can grow and cook our own in urban, suburban and country settings. How we start over.

The book even comes complete with fantastic, frugal, low energy and high nutrition recipes from various bloggers including our very own Chile!

The book was realistic, easy to read and, considering the subject matter, relatively optimistic. Moreover, it was inspiring. I'm not sure anyone could finish this book and not go outside an plant a garden or into the kitchen and cook a meal from scratch. It instills meaning and pride in much of what we already do and motivation to do more. Note: I am no longer a Victory Gardener. I'm a full fledged farmer . . . and quite possibly a chef.

I recommend A Nation of Farmers to all shades of green. It's not too heavy for those of us on the lighter side but still plenty informative for those forest green types. I rate it 4 out of 5. Read it and then go grow something.


Anonymous said...

I've recently finished reading Depletion and Abundance, and am thinking of buying Nation of Farmers.

Could you let me know if the book is specific towards the US please? I live in a different hemisphere and it's difficult to know whether the book has a global focus or not. Thanks!


Kale for Sale said...

I want to go outside and plant a garden just from reading your review! Thank you. It sounds like a book I want to check out.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'll have to check it out. You just had to say it had recipes and I'm there :)

Green Bean said...

Cath: No, I did not find it specific to the US. It was chock full of ideas on how to make the most of the land you have, how to build community and work with friends and neighbors to grow food, and ideas for cooking from scratch. Most of the statistics are from US but the solutions are not! And that's mostly what we all care about, isn't it, the solutions?

Katrina: Thank you. I do think you'll enjoy it.

Abbie: Always hooked by a good recipe, aren't you?!? I got a few good ones out of this book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your helpful comments; with a title of "Nation of Farmers" I just couldn't be sure. If there's community solutions in there, I want to know! Off to buy a copy now. :)