Fields of Plenty: A farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it

MIchael Ableman leaves his own farm in Canada in order to visit other organic farmers throughout the United States. He is on a search for “real food” among all the industrial agriculture that farming has become.

The people he visits are all quirky, but each in their own unique ways. They share one common concern, though, and that is the dilution of the term “organic” as it applies to food and agriculture. As with any popular trend, the organic movement is now in the domain of government and bureaucracy with all the costs and benefits that brings.

Reading this book was like returning to my childhood when I rode from farm to farm with my father as he repaired farm equipment for all our neighbors. In return, they would harvest our fields in the Fall. It was always interesting to see how each farmer found their own path through the wilderness…choosing different equipment, different crops, different methods. I found that Ableman’s experiences ring true to my own experiences growing up.

Like all good books about food, this book made me hungry as I moved from chapter to chapter. Even though I am a notoriously picky eater, the thought of tasting a ripe peach, fresh from the tree, or blackberries straight from the bush made my mouth water.

It is good to know that there are still farmers who hold to a smaller ideal in their farms — who nurture each plant with the care it deserves, coaxing out the best food possible. You should seek them out at your local farmer’s market. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals
  12. Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month
  13. Podcasting for Dummies/Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies
  14. Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet
  15. Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead
  16. The $64 Tomato
  17. Blue Yeti Microphone
  18. BioLite CampStove/HomeStove
  19. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  20. The Curious Gardener
  21. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  22. GoPro HD HERO 3
  23. Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart
  24. The Starfish and the Spider by Orj Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
  25. Microphone Boom Arms
  26. The Information by James Gleick
  27. Handy Farm Devices And How To Make Them (1909)
  28. Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas
  29. Apple iPhone 5
  30. Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
  31. Killer Ratings by Lisa Seidman
  32. Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon
  33. Zoom Portable Recorders (H1, H2, H2n, H4n)
  34. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
  35. My Teenager’s Favorite Games
  36. The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness
  37. In a Mexican Garden: courtyards, pools and open-air living rooms