Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wisdom of the Last Farmer
Anyhow, while I missed the markets, the plane ride did allow me to finish a wonderful book, David Mas Masumoto's Wisdom of the Last Farmer. Masumoto comes from a family of organic fruit farmers in California's Central Valley. If you've read his Epitaph for a Peach you know that he has the ability to make your mouth water with his fruit descriptions, of which there are more than a few in this book. Wisdom is a tender, lyrical tribute to Masumoto's father, who suffers a series of strokes and experiences the loss of the farming which ordered his life. It's also a family history, since the Masumotos have been farming the Central Valley since before World War II, with only the unavoidable hiatus of their internment. Beyond being moved by the stories, reading this book will help us non-farmers understand the hard work and love that goes into growing our food, as well as what we have lost as consumers when we assume a certain fruit should look a certain way, no matter what it tastes like.
After reading this book, I can't wait to talk to some of the folks from Tiny's Organic and Johnson Orchards and Martin Family Orchards about their favorite peach or apple or pear varieties, and to thank them again for preserving those delicious ones that--in a grocery-store word--might otherwise be lost.