This Organic Life* tells the story of how she began her first garden, the challenges, and the small triumphs as a new gardener. Her interests and abilities in growing food grew over time. Soon she had fruit trees, berry bushes, along with the many vegetables in the annual garden. But it’s not necessarily a gardening book, it’s more of an ongoing inner dialogue from someone who cares deeply for this planet. She kept wondering, how can I get my food closer to home? After a eating a clementine orange, she reflected on how many miles had it traveled to get to her? When the genetically modified tomato FlavrSavr came on the scene she was concerned how a farmer would lose the right to save his own seed. And, as bountiful as California was, it was facing serious agriculture challenges from soil erosion, water, among other concerns. Would the current food system be able to continue to put food on our tables?
It’s a rich book, an inspirational story, told by a woman who knows how to bring it home. And for those foodies always seeking something yummy to create, Gussow shares a multitude of recipes she developed from the food she grew. Some of my favorites: Chiles Rellenos Casserole for Two, Joan’s Pear Chutney Kosenko, and Joan’s Kale and Potato Soup.
*Note: Although this book was published in 2001, the subject matter remains timely to this day, another good indicator that Ms. Gussow was ahead of her time in her crusade for local food production.