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.


One-Straw Revolutionary

One-Straw Revolutionary

By Larry Korn

One-Straw Revolutionary represents the first commentary on the work of the late Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka (1913 – 2008), widely considered to be natural farming’s most influential practitioner. Mr. Fukuoka is perhaps most known for his bestselling book The One-Straw Revolution (1978), a manifesto on the importance of no-till agriculture, which was at the time of publication a radical challenge to the global systems that supply the world’s food, and still inspires readers today. Larry Korn, who apprenticed with Mr. Fukuoka in Japan at the time, translated the manuscript and brought it to the United States, knowing it would change the conversation about food forever. The One-Straw Revolution, edited by Korn and Wendell Berry, was an immediate international success, and established Mr. Fukuoka as a leading voice in the fight against conventional industrial agriculture. In this new book, through his own personal narrative, Larry Korn distills his experience of more than thirty-five years of study with Mr. Fukuoka, living and working on his farm on Shikoku Island, and traveling with Mr. Fukuoka to the United States on two six-week visits. 

One-Straw Revolutionary is the first book to look deeply at natural farming and intimately discuss the philosophy and work of Mr. Fukuoka. In addition to giving his personal thoughts about natural farming, Korn broadens the discussion by pointing out natural farming’s kinship with the ways of indigenous cultures and traditional Japanese farming. At the same time, he clearly distinguishes natural farming from other forms of agriculture, including scientific and organic agriculture and permaculture. Korn also clarifies commonly held misconceptions about natural farming in ways Western readers can readily understand. And he explains how natural farming can be used practically in areas other than agriculture, including personal growth and development.

The book follows the author on his travels from one back-to-the-land commune to another in the countryside of 1970s Japan, a journey that eventually led him to Mr. Fukuoka’s natural farm.  Korn’s description of his time there, as well as traveling with Mr. Fukuoka during his visits to the United States, offers a rare, inside look at Mr. Fukuoka’s life. Readers will delight in this personal insight into one of the world’s leading agricultural thinkers.

Available in: Paperback

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Larry Korn

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Around The World in 80 Plants

Around The World in 80 Plants

By Stephen Barstow

This book takes us on an original and inspiring adventure around the temperate world, introducing us to the author’s top eighty perennial leafy-green vegetables. We are taken underground gardening in Tokyo, beach gardening in the UK, and traditional roof gardening in the Norwegian mountains. . . . There are stories of the wild foraging traditions of indigenous people in all continents: from the Sámi people of northern Norway to the Maori of New Zealand, the rich food traditions of the Mediterranean peoples, the high-altitude food plants of the Sherpas in the Himalayas, wild mountain vegetables in Japan and Korea, and the wild aquatic plant that sustained Native American tribes with myriad foodstuffs and other products.

Around the World in 80 Plants will be of interest to both traditional vegetable and ornamental gardeners, as well as anyone interested in permaculture, forest gardening, foraging, slow food, gourmet cooking, and ethnobotany. A thorough description is given of each vegetable, its traditions, stories, cultivation, where to source seed and plants, and how to propagate it. Sprinkled with recipes inspired by local traditional gastronomy, this is a fascinating book, an entertaining adventure, and a real milestone in climate-friendly vegetable growing from a pioneering expert on the subject.

Available in: Paperback

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Around The World in 80 Plants

Stephen Barstow

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From the Wood-Fired Oven

From the Wood-Fired Oven

By Richard Miscovich

In the past twenty years, interest in wood-fired ovens has increased dramatically in the United States and abroad, but most books focus on how to bake bread or pizza in an oven. From the Wood-Fired Oven offers many more techniques for home and artisan bakers—from baking bread and making pizza to recipes on how to get as much use as possible out of a single oven firing, from the first live-fire roasting to drying wood for the next fire.

From the Wood-Fired Oven offers a new take on traditional techniques for professional bakers, but is simple enough to inspire any nonprofessional baking enthusiast. Leading baker and instructor Richard Miscovich wants people to use their ovens to fulfill the goal of maximum heat utilization. Readers will find methods and techniques for cooking and baking in a wood-fired oven in the order of the appropriate temperature window. What comes first—pizza, or pastry? Roasted vegetables or a braised pork loin? Clarified butter or beef jerky? In addition to an extensive section of delicious formulas for many types of bread, readers will find chapters on:

•    Making pizza and other live-fire flatbreads;
•    Roasting fish and meats;
•    Grilling, steaming, braising, and frying;
•    Baking pastry and other recipes beyond breads;
•    Rendering animal fats and clarifying butter;
•    Food dehydration and infusing oils;
•    And myriad other ways to use the oven's residual heat.

Appendices include oven-design recommendations, a sample oven temperature log, Richard's baker's percentages, proper care of a sourdough starter, and more. . . .

From the Wood Fired Oven is more than a cookbook; it reminds the reader of how a wood-fired oven (and fire, by extension) draws people together and bestows a sense of comfort and fellowship, very real human needs, especially in uncertain times. Indeed, cooking and baking from a wood-fired oven is a basic part of a resilient lifestyle, and a perfect example of valuable traditional skills being put to use in modern times.

Available in: Hardcover

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Defending Beef

Defending Beef

By Nicolette Hahn Niman

For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one.

But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.

The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.

In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment.

The author—a longtime vegetarian—goes on to dispel popular myths about how eating beef is bad for our bodies. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false.  She shows how foods from cattle—milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass—are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system.

Grounded in empirical scientific data and with living examples from around the world, Defending Beef builds a comprehensive argument that cattle can help to build carbon-sequestering soils to mitigate climate change, enhance biodiversity, help prevent desertification, and provide invaluable nutrition.

Defending Beef is simultaneously a book about big ideas and the author’s own personal tale—she starts out as a skeptical vegetarian and eventually becomes an enthusiastic participant in environmentally sustainable ranching.

While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Defending Beef makes the case that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and beef can and must be part of the solution.

Available in: Paperback

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Nicolette Hahn Niman

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