Chelsea Green Publishing

Taste, Memory

Pages:240 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584401
Pub. Date October 25, 2012

Taste, Memory

Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors, and Why They Matter

By David Buchanan
Foreword by Gary Paul Nabhan

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 25, 2012


Taste, Memory traces the experiences of modern-day explorers who rediscover culturally rich forgotten foods and return them to our tables for all to experience and savor.

In Taste, Memory author David Buchanan explores questions fundamental to the future of food and farming. How can we strike a balance between preserving the past, maintaining valuable agricultural and culinary traditions, and looking ahead to breed new plants? What place does a cantankerous old pear or too-delicate strawberry deserve in our gardens, farms, and markets? To what extent should growers value efficiency and uniformity over matters of taste, ecology, or regional identity?

While living in Washington State in the early nineties, Buchanan learned about the heritage food movement and began growing fruit trees, grains, and vegetables. After moving home to New England, however, he left behind his plant collection and for several years stopped gardening. In 2005, inspired by the revival of interest in regional food and culinary traditions, Buchanan borrowed a few rows of growing space at a farm near his home in Portland, Maine, where he resumed collecting. By 2012 he had expanded to two acres, started a nursery and small business, and discovered creative ways to preserve rare foods. In Taste, Memory Buchanan shares stories of slightly obsessive urban gardeners, preservationists, environmentalists, farmers, and passionate cooks, and weaves anecdotes of his personal journey with profiles of leaders in the movement to defend agricultural biodiversity.

Taste, Memory begins and ends with a simple premise: that a healthy food system depends on matching diverse plants and animals to the demands of land and climate. In this sense of place lies the true meaning of local food.


ForeWord Reviews-
As debate rages about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their impact on seeds and farming, there’s another issue that deserves to be widely visited: the dearth of diversity in our current food system. Because of changes in our agricultural model, scores of once-common fruits, grains, and vegetables have been phased out by the need for food that’s more easily shipped across long distances and stored for days, if not weeks, before getting to market. What have we lost as a result of these farming changes and distribution demands, and what can be gained by preserving the diversity that’s left? Author David Buchanan’s answer, in the form of Taste, Memory, is compelling and important. He combines personal stories as well as encounters with leaders in biodiversity to present a glimpse of what a healthy food system might look like, one in which plants and animals are matched to the land and the climate, not to consumer demand or agribusiness bottom lines. Thoughout, Buchanan’s writing style is lyrical but straightforward, perfect for observations about food and growing. 'My farm project isn’t about just saving seeds or old fruit varieties,' he writes, 'but searching for a creative connection with land and plants that, until the last few generations, was at the heart of most people’s lives.' There’s enormous value in preserving the agrarian diversity that humans have enjoyed for centuries, he believes, and that we’ve only recently lost. Buchanan makes an excellent case for waking up to the issues of crop diversity and how we need to continue exploring how our foods can evolve along with our methods for cooking, preserving, and treasuring them. Buchanan’s work is a savory treat, full of fresh insight and delicious inspiration.

"As we increasingly seek to reconnect to our agrarian roots and restore our relationship with the land, we need guides who have been down the path before us and already negotiated some of the tangles along the way. There is no better guide than David Buchanan. Taste, Memory is the captivating work of a writer who is alert to the world around him and ready to learn from it. Buchanan's elegant celebration of the 'ongoing conversation', as he calls it, between generations of heirloom food plants and the families that have lovingly kept them alive, will inspire a new generation to nurture the happy marriages of plants and place that make communities lively, resilient, and deeply meaningful."--Rowan Jacobsen, author of Fruitless Fall and American Terroir

Taste, Memory is not the typical storybook novel about finding redemption on an isolated old farm, but a 21st-century success story built around collaboration, innovation, and vibrant new models for sustainable farming.  David's book helps us explore agricultural models past and present, in order to help us find our own unique niche, rhythm and flow in the emerging local food economy.  His ability to help us appreciate the nuances of heirloom crops and regional flavors reminds us that we can help to preserve agricultural and food traditions for the seed, one bite, and one backyard at a time!”--John Forti, garden historian, “The Heirloom Gardener”

“With a scientist’s intellect and the heart of a 21st-century Noah, David Buchanan goes beyond biodiversity to explore the true place of Taste, Memory, a sensory experience that ties all of mankind together at life’s dinner table. Using taste as his compass, Buchanan uncovers authentic endangered flavors, making us all long for another serving.”--Poppy Tooker, New Orleans food activist and host of “Louisiana Eats”

“Buchanan shows us that reconnecting with the sources of our food reconnects us with what it means to feel alive. His unbridled enthusiasm for all things agricultural—from a forgotten peach variety to the proper soil balance for a rooftop farm—is infectious.”--Curt Ellis, FoodCorps

“In Taste, Memory, David Buchanan shares his quest to promote fruit and vegetable biodiversity in New England. "Plant it to save it" is his mantra. In his thoughtful meditation and memoir, Buchanan reveals a powerful commitment to collecting and conserving the apples, blueberries, rutabagas, potatoes and other foods long part of this rocky and harsh landscape. As important, though, is his clear-sighted understanding of the necessary innovations that will be required to preserve the fantastic Baldwin apples, Bordo Beets and Amazon Chocolate tomatoes not just for this generation, but for the next seven generations. An important book.”--Amy Trubek, author of The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir

“Every peach, every turnip, every ear of corn becomes a local food in the fullest sense when gardeners and fruit growers opt for regional advantage.  There are stories to be told here, be it the lore of the Fletcher Sweet apple or the enduring affair of ‘that blonde’ cucumber from the Boothbys.  How well David Buchanan weaves the human element into this celebration of plant selection and provincial cuisine.  Good eating goes hand in hand with our dance with place. Let Taste, Memory bring appreciation for varietal delight to your dinner table.”--Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower

“Taste is one of the great joys in life, a sense and sensibility that all of us share. But it is a common pleasure we are in real danger of losing, as our modern world seems bent on a collision course with ever greater homogeneity and the lack of distinctive local flavors and cultures. In this thought-provoking book, David Buchanan captures taste experience from whence it once flowed, from an overpowering, life-enhancing diversity.”--Tom Burford, orchardist, historian, and author of The Apples of America

“A Greek proverb states, ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in’. David Buchanan’s book about food, agriculture, community, and connections to soil and climate, embodies the spirit and vision of the Greeks. Beyond weaving an engaging narrative about farming, the past twenty years of his life reflect the extraordinary changes occurring in American agriculture and a rediscovery of taste and quality in food. We are indeed fortunate that, as a young man, he has many years to plant apples, peaches, and other notable foods!”--Jeffrey P. Roberts, author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese

“David Buchanan takes on his subject, some of it prickly, with grace and eloquence. Taste, Memory is hard to put down. It is beautiful read that illuminates the challenges to and importance of biodiversity, a subject that David frames with our taste buds and personal food histories. A wonderful book, and an important one!”--Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and Local Flavors

Kirkus Reviews-
"A meander, with hoe, through organic vegetable patches, lost orchards, seed catalogs and produce markets with a dedicated gardener in search of a small farm. From experiments “trying to live off the grid” in Washington state after college to raising produce on semiurban plots around Portland, Maine, Buchanan has always followed his passion for heritage plants: the ugly heirloom baking apple, undersized pear, thin-skinned tomato and other relics of the old family farm lost or marginalized by bottom-line-obsessed agribusiness, environmental degradation and government regulation. In this combination of memoir and treatise for the back-to-the-farm movement, the author laments the loss of 90 percent of America’s crop diversity over the last century. What that means to the average supermarket shopper is dinner without a world of region-specific savors—the fruit of what the French call the terroir. Seeking inspiration and the perfect place to start a market garden, Buchanan made research forays to thriving organic farms and nurseries in New England, talked with seed collectors, visited a USDA gene bank and hunted for heritage apple trees by highways and in backyards. He ponders the relevance of agricultural diversity in the contemporary world and the role individuals can play in keeping heritage varieties in our markets and on our plates. Buchanan ended up swapping work for equipment and the use of small parcels of tillable land around Portland, where he continues to battle late blight and caterpillars to raise a varied crop of rare apples for his own brand of raw cider. It’s a catch-as-catch-can lifestyle, but it’s deeply satisfying to Buchanan and demonstrates the way forward for a new generation of farmers and locavores. A specialized look at the small-farming movement, written with appealing self-knowledge, diligent research and occasional flair."

"Not just a feast for the palate, Buchanan’s book is a feast for the souls of those concerned about a fast-food culture that prizes uniformity and convenience over the kind of tastes that cannot be produced on an assembly line. He focuses on heirloom foods, those dating back at least 50 years and unchanged by modern methods of food production. After working in a garden for seven years in Portland, Maine, Buchanan finally settled into a rhythm that offered elements of city and country life—gardening on borrowed and leased land, a quasi-farm, and across two acres of back yards, and working informally with other like-minded people in a food enterprise focused on flavor. A pioneer in the heirloom seed movement in the early 1990s, he aspires not to an effete effort at reviving fragile foods but rather to bringing regionally and culturally different foods to the table. His clearly defined goal, “to create the best plant collection for this particular time and place,” informs this delightful book rich in delicious details of journeys to discover forgotten foods and flavors."


  • Winner - Amazon's Top Ten Best Food Lit Books of 2012


David Buchanan

David Buchanan is the author of Taste, Memory. He planted his first gardens in central Washington State more than 20 years ago, after learning about the heritage food movement through the Seed Savers Exchange. He has worked for farms, ranches, and nurseries; operated a landscape design company specializing in native plant restoration; managed an educational farm for a community nonprofit; and helped found the Portland, Maine, chapter of Slow Food USA. In the mid-1990s he worked for Arche Noah, an Austrian seed-saving organization, producing seeds to maintain the thousands of varieties of vegetables and grains in their collection.

David helped found and for three years led the Portland, Maine, chapter of Slow Food. He now serves on its national Biodiversity Committee, which evaluates and helps preserve endangered heritage foods from around the country. In 2008 he managed Turkey Hill Farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and continues to maintain gardens there and at two nearby sites. Currently he oversees vegetable and cut flower production for Old Ocean House Farms in Cape Elizabeth, and grows more than 250 varieties of fruit, as well as herbs and heirloom vegetables. He sells nursery plants, organic vegetables, fruit smoothies, and raw cider at the Portland farmers market.




By Dean Cycon

In each cup of coffee we drink the major issues of the twenty-first century-globalization, immigration, women's rights, pollution, indigenous rights, and self-determination-are played out in villages and remote areas around the world. In Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee, a unique hybrid of Fair Trade business, adventure travel, and cultural anthropology, author Dean Cycon brings readers face-to-face with the real people who make our morning coffee ritual possible.

Second only to oil in terms of its value, the coffee trade is complex with several levels of middlemen removing the 28 million growers in fifty distant countries far from you and your morning cup. And, according to Cycon, 99 percent of the people involved in the coffee economy have never been to a coffee village. They let advertising and images from the major coffee companies create their worldview.

Cycon changes that in this compelling book, taking the reader on a tour of ten countries in nine chapters through his passionate eye and unique perspective. Cycon, who is himself an amalgam-equal parts entrepreneur, activist, and mischievous explorer-has traveled extensively throughout the world's tropical coffeelands, and shows readers places and people that few if any outsiders have ever seen. Along the way, readers come to realize the promise and hope offered by sustainable business principles and the products derived from cooperation, fair pricing, and profit sharing.

Cycon introduces us to the Mamos of Colombia-holy men who believe they are literally holding the world together-despite the severe effects of climate change caused by us, their "younger brothers." He takes us on a trip through an ancient forest in Ethiopia where many believe that coffee was first discovered 1,500 years ago by the goatherd Kaldi and his animals. And readers learn of Mexico's infamous Death Train, which transported countless immigrants from Central America northward to the U.S. border, but took a horrifying toll in lost lives and limbs.
Rich with stories of people, landscapes, and customs, Javatrekker offers a deep appreciation and understanding of the global trade and culture of coffee.

In each cup of coffee we drink the major issues of the twenty-first century-globalization, immigration, women's rights, pollution, indigenous rights, and self-determination-are played out in villages and remote areas around the world.

What is Fair Trade Coffee?
Coffee prices paid to the farmer are based on the international commodity price for coffee (the "C" price) and the quality premium each farmer negotiates. Fair Trade provides an internationally determined minimum floor price when the C plus premium sinks below $1.26 per pound for conventional and $1.41 for organics (that's us!). As important as price, Fair Trade works with small farmers to create democratic cooperatives that insure fair dealing, accountability and transparency in trade transactions. In an industry where the farmer is traditionally ripped off by a host of middlemen, this is tremendously important.

Cooperatives are examined by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO), or the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT), European NGOs, for democratic process and transparency. Those that pass are listed on the FLO Registry or become IFAT members. Cooperatives provide important resources and organization to small farmers in the form of technical assistance for crop and harvest improvement, efficiencies in processing and shipping, strength in negotiation and an array of needed social services, such as health care and credit. Fair Trade also requires pre-financing of up to sixty percent of the value of the contract, if the farmers ask for it. Several groups, such as Ecologic and Green Development Fund have created funds for pre-finance lending.

Available in: Paperback

Read More


Dean Cycon

Paperback $19.95

The Permaculture Kitchen

The Permaculture Kitchen

By Carl Legge

This is the ultimate introduction to economical, seasonal, and delicious cooking. The Permaculture Kitchen is written by a passionate smallholder and cook who explains how to make tasty meals using seasonal, foraged, homegrown, local, fresh, and free-range produce, including meat, and sustainably caught fish. This is a cookbook for gardeners who love to eat their own produce, and for people who enjoy a weekly veggie box, or supporting their local farmers’ market.

There are ideas here for developing recipes “on the fly” and recipes for meals that can be easily cooked in thirty minutes or less, with additional tips on how to make further dishes from leftovers. Learn how to make stocks, soups, sauces, pizzas, curries, grills, pilafs and paellas, gourmet salads, preserves, and more!

Most recipes include plenty of ideas for using a variety of different ingredients, which can be included or substituted as desired, or when available. There are also vegetarian recipes, and vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat dishes.

The author, Carl Legge, is a passionate advocate of good food with a low carbon footprint and this book is his first in a series about low impact, local and seasonal gourmet food.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Permaculture Kitchen

Carl Legge

Paperback $22.95

The Book of Pears

The Book of Pears

By Joan Morgan

Although apples may have won the battle for modern-day supermarket shelf space, throughout history the pear has usually ranked even higher in the hearts of fruit enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Cherries, plums, peaches, and many other fruits are also wonderful in their season, but the pear at its finest can be so much more exceptional in terms of its luscious texture, richness of taste, and its fragrances reminiscent of rose water, musk, and vanilla.
The Book of Pears is a one-of-a-kind guide to this extraordinary fruit, following its journey through history and around the world, accompanied by beautiful botanical watercolor paintings and period images. Noted pomologist and fruit historian Joan Morgan (The Book of Apples) has researched and crafted the definitive account of the pear’s history and uses, from fresh eating to cooking and baking to making perry, the delicate and sophisticated pear equivalent of cider.
Featuring a directory of 500 varieties of both ancient and modern pears with tasting notes and descriptions for every one, The Book of Pears reveals the secrets of the pear as a status symbol, introduces readers to some of the most celebrated fruit growers in history, and explains how the pear came to be so important as an international commodity. This unique and fascinating book will prove indispensable for historians, horticulturists, and all fruit lovers.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

The Book of Pears

Joan Morgan

Hardcover $65.00

Restoring Heritage Grains

Restoring Heritage Grains

By Eli Rogosa

Wheat has long been one of the world’s most widely consumed and cultivated grains, yet it has been transformed over the course of the past fifty to one hundred years. Once considered as iconic “amber waves of grain” and as an essential staple crop for making “our daily bread” or “staff of life,” today we are just as apt to hear about the ill effects of consuming it. Witness the increased incidence of gluten intolerance or “wheat belly.” What has changed, in large part, is the way in which we grow our wheat and the modern varieties that have made possible enormous harvests, but at a very steep cost.  Large industrial farming, dependent on monocultures and the heavy use of fertilizers and herbicides, can have deleterious effects, not only on our own health, but that of our land, water, and environment as a whole.

Fortunately, heritage “landrace” wheats—crops that have been selected over generations to be well adapted to their local environments—do not need bio-chemical interventions to grow well and yield bountifully. Yet these robust and diverse wheats that nourished our ancestors for countless generations are nearly extinct today.

In Restoring Heritage Grains, author Eli Rogosa, of the Heritage Grain Conservancy, invites readers to pore over a menagerie of “forgotten” grains: diverse, landrace wheat varieties such as emmer, a strain domesticated in the Fertile Crescent that is perfect for pasta and flatbreads; mirabil, or the “miracle wheat”; durum, a high-protein, low-gluten variety; and Indian wheat, also known as shot, a rare species that is drought-tolerant and high in protein. These and the many other heritage grains Rogosa exhibits each have a lineage intertwined with that of the human species, and can and should be grown once again.

Combining the history of grain growing and society, in-depth practical advice on landrace wheat husbandry, wheat folktales and mythology, and recipes for flours, breads, and beers, Restoring Heritage Grains invites readers to explore a rich history that has only recently been overshadowed by modern industrial wheat. In the end, organically grown, diverse wheat may well be one the best solutions to hunger, one that will be needed to feed the world’s growing population in the decades to come.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Restoring Heritage Grains

Eli Rogosa

Paperback $24.95