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Field Days

A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in California

Jonah Raskin (Author), Paige Green (Photographer)

Available worldwide
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Paperback, 344 pages
ISBN: 9780520268036
September 2010
$23.95, £17.95
“Sooner or later, nearly everyone who cares about wine and food comes to Sonoma”—so begins this lively excursion to a spectacular region that has become known internationally as a locavore's paradise. Part memoir, part vivid reportage, Field Days chronicles the renaissance in farming organically and eating locally that is unfolding in Northern California. Jonah Raskin tells of the year he spent on Oak Hill Farm—working the fields, selling produce at farmers' markets, and following it to restaurants. He also goes behind the scenes at Whole Foods. In this luminous account of his experiences, Raskin introduces a dynamic cast of characters—farmers, chefs, winemakers, farm workers, and environmentalists. They include such luminaries as Warren Weber at Star Route Farm, the oldest certified organic farm in Marin County; Bob Cannard, who has supplied Chez Panisse with vegetables for decades; Sharon Grossi, the owner of the largest organic farm in Sonoma; and Craig Stoll, the founder and executive chef at Delfina in San Francisco. Raskin also offers portraits of renowned historical figures, including Luther Burbank, Jack London, and M.F.K. Fisher. Field Days is a heartfelt celebration of the farm-to-table movement and its cultural reverberations.
List of Illustrations ix
Introduction: The Renaissance in Farming 1

1 First Forays 13
2 Oak Hill History 58
3 Departures and Returns 79
4 Farmwork, Farmworkers 100
5 Winnowing with Wayne 125
6 Blood and Money, Wine and Water 136
7 Rudolf Steiner and Sons 162
8 Follow the Vegetables 177
9 Oldies and Goodies 202
10 A Place for Things to Happen 228
11 Days of the Dead 248
Jonah Raskin is Professor of Communication Studies at Sonoma State University and the author of The Radical Jack London: Writings on War and Revolution, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the Beat Generation, and For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman, all available from University of California Press.
“Lyrical. . . A finely textured account of how the origins of eating and drinking reveal the nuances of modern community.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Each of Raskin’s subjects has some unique history, but they are united in their love for what they perceive as a fulfilling rural lifestyle.”—Booklist
“Filled with stories of people's lives, heritage and motivations for working the land . . . . Each one's story is illuminating.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Provides vicarious and delicious adventurous .”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Raskin's tone is so endearing, humble, and respectful that his adventures come across as relatable and realistic.”—Serious Eats
“Crafts an intimate appreciation of Northern California's traditional farming heritage and contemporary organic renaissance.”—National Geographic Traveler
“While set in California, [Raskin’s] book cites a national trend. . . inspiring because he doesn’t just give a political or nutritional argument for small farms and organic produce. He provides a personal up-close look at several small farms and the people who own, manage, and work on them.”—Athol Daily News
“Part travel book, part epicurean manifesto, Raskin’s ‘Field Days’ highlights the unique culture surrounding Northern Californian agriculture.”—Rose McMackin The Star
"This is an insider's view, and Raskin offers readers insights into a hidden California. The impact of his book is to return culture to agriculture in a state dominated by agribusiness."—Gerald Haslam, author of The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland

“Jonah Raskin has lived and taught in this area for well over thirty years and has the credibility to write about the evolution of farming here. His book is a magical mixture of journalism and memoir. I loved his interviews with local farmers and growers. He explores the questions that we all are asking about our relationship to food and what it means to eat locally, who grows it, and will they be able to continue to do so.”—Ianthe Brautigan, author of You Can't Catch Death: A Daughter's Memoir

"'Think global, buy local' takes on new meaning in this intriguing synthesis of memoir and reportage on the slow and local food movements."—Peter Laufer, author of Wetback Nation and The Dangerous World of Butterflies

“Anyone wanting to know what it's like to live in the paradise that is Sonoma County must read Field Days. Jonah Raskin brings this blessed region and its communities of environmental champions vividly to life.”—Jeff Cox, author of The Organic Cook's Bible and The Organic Food Shopper's Guide

“In Jonah Raskin's wonderfully observant ramble through Sonoma County's farms, orchards, and vineyards, it becomes abundantly clear that American farming has not been killed off by agribusiness, or the Department of Agriculture's call to 'get big or get out'. With Raskin we meet a rich community of amazing people who have stayed on the land, or gone back to it, sharing a new kind of ecologically informed consciousness about our intimate connections to the land and the people who work it. Anybody who reads this book, wherever they live, will gain a new appreciation of this new generation of farmers. Thanks to them, we're learning to eat well—a basic necessity in the hard times ahead.”—Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia

"In Field Days, Jonah Raskin becomes the George Plimpton of organic farming. Instead of getting out on the playing field to measure his stuff against pro athletes, he toils long days beside farm workers. Soulful and always curious, Raskin traces the tradition of responsible farming practices in Northern California, and explores the meaning of living locally."—Bart Schneider, author of The Man in the Blizzard
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Interview with the author, Jonah Raskin

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