Saturday, July 21, 2007

Quick thoughts on Blithe Tomato and The $64 Tomato

I thoroughly enjoyed Blithe Tomato. It was written by a small farmer, or rather, a man who farms organically on a small California farm and sells his produce at farmers' markets. The book reads more like a series of personality profiles rather than an unfolding story, yet still paints a rather charming (though clearly not rose-colored) picture of farmers' markets and small-scale farming.

You get a sense from author Mike Madison that his is a rich life, not always monetarily, but in quality. He works with the land, not against it, and his stories reveal a respect for nature and a tender eye toward farmers and farmers' market customers. Madison strings words together in a pretty way, and he's funny. Need I say more? Ok, I will. Blithe Tomato will make you want to slow down and appreciate your bounty, be it agricultural or floral or human or four-legged.

Blithe tomato not only had me fantasizing about working at a farmers' market, it also got me back in the habit of going to farmers' markets in my area. Thank you, Mike. Last week, I tasted the most incredible red-fleshed farmers' market plums of my life.

Trivia fans will appreciate knowing that Mr. Madison is brother to famous foodie Deborah Madison.

With its catchy title, I had high hopes for The $64 Tomato. I'm glad I read it, but author William Alexander's use of nastier and nastier pesticides and excruciatingly detailed accounts of trapping and killing garden invaders left me a little angry, grossed out and sad. Instead of working with the land, Alexander seeks to conquer it before it conquers him. I feel like he didn't give organic gardening enough of a chance. William Alexander desperately needs to read Blithe Tomato.

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