Anyone who travels California's byways sees the many faces of agriculture. A huge entwined business, farming and ranching are the state's dominant land use. Yet few Californians understand what animals and crops are raised or how agriculture reflects our relationship with nature. This fascinating and gorgeously illustrated field guide gathers essential information about agriculture and its environmental context, and answers the perennial question posed by California travelers: “What is that, and why is it growing here?” Paul F. Starrs's lively text explores the full range of the state's agriculture, deftly balancing agribusiness triumphalism with the pride of boutique producers, sketching meanwhile the darker shadows that can envelop California farming. Documented with diverse maps and Peter Goin's insightful photographs, A Field Guide to California Agriculture captures the industry's energy and ingenuity and its wildly diverse iconography, from the mysteries of forbidden crops (like marijuana) to the majesties of scale in food production.
“Required reading for every serious foodie, gardener and farmer’s market junkie . . . The summer beach read of academic writing. “—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Designed for portability, this stout little tome easily fits into a glove box, ready for retrieval when a passing agricultural landscape baffles. But being such an engaging companion, the Field Guide to California Agriculture will more than likely migrate to your bedside reading table.”—Julie Foster Zyzzyva
“Full of useful and interesting information about the crops and livestock you might encounter while driving around California.”—A.B. Westways Magazine
“A book that brings to life the vast panorama of the state's farming industry and its fascinating historical, ecological and ethnocultural overtones. . . . Reading its richly informative commentary out loud while admiring almonds and citrus in blossom on a drive down Interstate 5 is a refreshing alternative to video game stupor.”—Laura Thomas San Francisco Chronicle
"Invaluable guide to (what grows where), with photos."—Allen Pierleoni and Christina Creveling Sacramento Bee
“Brings to life the vast panorama of the state's farming industry and its fascinating historical, ecological and ethnocultural overtones. . . . They've structured the guide to help the reader identify crops - with photos and maps - and to appreciate the monumentality of the state's contribution to the American dinner table. . . . Reading their richly informative commentary out loud while admiring almonds and citrus in blossom on a drive down Interstate 5 is a refreshing alternative to video game stupor.—San Francisco Chronicle
"This book brings to life one of the most creative (and necessary) human endeavors and makes understandable the incredible complexity of California agriculture, one of the world's most daring experiments in feeding itself. A valuable resource that should be read by everyone—not just those of us who farm, but all of us who depend on farms."—Michael Ableman, farmer, photographer, and author of From the Good Earth, On Good Land,
and Fields of Plenty.
"No understanding of this state is possible without an understanding of its agriculture; that's how important this subject is."—Gerald Haslam, author of Workin' Man Blues: Country Music in California
"A fascinating, intriguing, and sometimes even humorous exploration of California's agriculture, from broccoli to marijuana and beyond. At long last, a book everyday people can read to understand the state's biggest industry."—Louis Warren, University of California, Davis