Weekend Reading – Deeply Rooted and More

A Good Read:

Deeply Rooted
Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness
by Lisa Hamilton

Full disclosure: while the title appealed to me, I really bought this book because a dear person in my family shares the author’s name.

This book begins with a trek to a small family-owned dairy in South Texas. From the initial description of Highway 84 cutting a diagonal line across North Dakota to  farmer’s wrinkles depicted as resting spots for active skin to the acrobats of a family tree, Lisa Hamilton defines(reaffirms) herself as a writer. She’s skilled in transitions and there are many but what I find most appealing is her attention to personal details. In every interaction, she focuses on physical attributes and speech patterns to a degree typically only acknowledged by speech pathologists.

That works, for this is a book based on dialogue. It’s also a book based upon beliefs and whatever your God is, there’s a lot it/her/him present within these pages. One of the most poignant examples occurs in the first third of the book that gives attention to Sulphur Springs, Texas and the dairy industry remaining there.  In a deep oratory, Farmer Harry preaches that the golden rule for organics is pasture and that pasture is of God. “Why did Noah go around collecting animals?” “Because he knew there would be a pasture.”

Hamilton moves from a successful dairy cooperative to an ancient Spanish settlement of generational ranchers in New Mexico. The stories she uncovers about Virgil Trujillo and his family moving cattle and losing land point to extreme injustices that are now simply tolerated. We see a deep glimpse into the Trujillo heritage, the honoring of family tradition and an extreme love of the land.

Lisa rounds out her journey in LaMoure, North Dakota with the Podoll family. There in the Heartland, she finds a family fit for the cover of Farming Magazine who have turned from conventional methods to organic farming and raise nearly 100% of their own food. Meals don’t consist of Epicurean recipes but they are simple ingredient, real food meals created from the Podoll garden and always enjoyed in fellowship around the table. There, one of the Podoll brothers, reveals his truth, “gardening taught me how to farm”. From his hands and knees practice, emerged the knowledge of crop rotation and enhanced production.

Each of these profiles is woven together with detailed research about the current state of agriculture and the changes that farmers have seen in the last decade. The families within the pages claim resilience and adaptability and push forward with both independence and moral currency. Their ways are not conventional but they are lasting and while the work is hard, there are no lamentations.

Instead, they eat, they talk, they pray, and they sing at the top of their lungs. And they give hope to the rest of us.

Good Food Blogs:

It seems pickles are the new black and in this post, Novelist and Food Writer, Jane Ward tempts us with pickled lemons!

My friend, Nancy Vienneau, food writer for the Tennessean, offers up some wonderful words about honey bees and a very local honey cake.

From Spain, Natalie Ward creates amazing Caribbean sweet potato patties – welcome in our home where we have plenty of sweet potatoes from our CSA.

In Other Food News:

From NPR.org – Two sides of the GMO debate in California.  Because California often acts as a bellwether, here’s an opportunity to come up to speed before we’re faced with a similar debate in other places.

The drought forces up food prices in the U.S. causing repercussions throughout the world. Here are some ways that African agriculture is responding including a different view on GMOs.

Meanwhile, farmers confronting the draught are angry at the absence of a Farm Bill.

This is a busy time and I’m not cooking this labor day so in lieu of a recipe or other food story, I thought I’d share some ideas of links of what I’ve been reading. Please tell me if you like this so that I know whether or not to consider it a regular feature.

Have a great weekend!

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  1. What a wonderful reviewer you are, Tammy. Thank you for pointing us to Deeply Rooted. And I thought the links were really a great idea and helpful, unless it was more work for you . .. then don’t do it. 🙂 Have a good weekend with your family and friends!
    p.s. we went to the Farm Park today, where all sorts of farm animals are featured that we get to feed and pet. Aub loves the turkeys and chickens the best. 🙂

    • I’m thinking of trying to put this out maybe once a month – like a t3 report that comes out every 6 weeks. It’s not work unless I get behind in my reading.

  2. Sounds like a brilliant book. I am always reading negative things about the control government and dairy farmers have over our diet, this would make a nice change. And thanks so much for the link, have great weeekend!

  3. I love this as a feature. I have read Lisa Hamilton’s book and think of it often. One of the inspirations for my own farm is the dairy farmer in Texas – did you notice that he doesn’t wean the calves from his milk cows? Very unusual, and it’s working just fine for him.

    I’d never seen the Democracy in Development site, it’s a good one, thank you. I find our farm aid to third world countries disappointing and self serving at best. Helping others help themselves become self sufficient is a true gift as opposed to giving handouts of GMO crops that ruin their native biodiversity and create markets dependent on US goods. Not true charity at all…

    Thanks Tammy, have a great holiday!

    • I do remember the weaning part Jackie – interesting. I really liked the book and its a fast read. Yes, I agree that giving “self sufficiency” is great but am concerned when we define it in our terms – like GMOs. Hope your weekend is grand.

      • That’s exactly what I mean – most of our charitable farming assistance is absolutely in corporate American terms – we give systems unsustainable for third worlders to afford and maintain on their own.

        That’s why I love Tiller’s International so much – they gift turn of the century systems that are simply maintained and completely free of commercial ties…

  4. This is a great post! Its nice to know where your interests lie outside of the blog 🙂

  5. Hi Tammy, I am honored to be included in this post, and be your friend.
    ps–this is a nice feature: sharing good reads and links.
    enjoy your cooking-free labor day weekend!

    • Thanks so much Nancy. Your blog is a continual inspiration. Hope you have a great labor day weekend.

  6. Lisa H

     /  September 1, 2012

    By the time I was at the end of the book, I felt like I was friend invited along her journey. Sharing her name is certainly a privilege. After reading your blog, “What the Geekbunny, a Boccia star and Agrigirl Have in Common”, I looked up to see who shared my name and up popped this title. Having your blog make a full circle is a treat.
    I always enjoy a good read, so any of your recommendations are always appreciated!

  7. I love this blog, and would love to see recommendations and referrals like this on a monthly basis. It is very helpful! Thank you, Tammy!

  8. Recommendations and referrals are always appreciated in my part of the world!


  9. Colleen

     /  September 1, 2012

    My niece is getting her Masters in Agri Journalism and I plan on sharing this post with her. Deeply Rooted is a book that will definitely resonate with her as will your comment about the lack of a Farm Bill (she interned at DTN/Progressive Farmer this summer and saw some of that frustration – and the drought – as part of her work). Thanks for the recommendations, Tammy.

  10. Definitely added to my to-read list! Thanks for the great review.

  11. Jane Ward

     /  September 2, 2012

    Tammy, thanks so much for posting the link to my blog. I’ll be in the kitchen today, preserving lemons!

  12. Deeply Rooted. I must look it out, Tammy. It sounds an absorbing read.

    And thank you for the blog recommendations. I shall have fun pottering over to take a look.

  13. The book sounds like it’s been very well written. I’m glad you had a lovely Labor Day and a great end to your summer xx

  14. This looks like a good book and your blog links look intriguing, too. Food is one thing all of us have in common~~and it’s good to read about conscious eating and farming.

  15. There really are two sides of GMO and its a complex issue as is the the role of a monsanto et al in such issues, as is the issue or organic foods (cost-benefit). As someone who loved loves to garden and who also has worked a big farm, I have done a lot of research and am not sure where I land. There is nothing I like more than a farmers market with food grown organically by a neighbor. I have also used less herbicides and insecticieds on a big operation because of GM0 seed. There is my hood and the world, and it is true there are some candles in the darkness, but could they feed a world? It’s been a blog on my list but i cant write it yet.

    • It’s a great question that I don’t know the answer to Paul. That’s why I try to post both sides whenever I bring it up.

  16. Love the idea of including book reviews–and the links as well!

  17. Wonderful post, Tammy . . . you handle transitions well too! 🙂

  18. Great post my friend and thanks for sharing the other amazing food blogs. You have a generous heart that shines from post to post. Have a blessed day.

  19. Thanks for the good book review–I’m putting on hold at the library now. And yum, the honey cake and sweet potato recipes sound divine!

  20. Though I am not into the agri-business area, I loved your review. Shakti

  21. Hi Tammy–

    Thanks for sharing your review of Deeply Rooted. I read it myself about 2 years ago. Lisa’s three vivid stories are among the many examples that helped convinced that the time is right to make my own move into building a sustainable, enduring, biodynamic farm on my family’s land.

    Harry Lewis, especially, is a real inspiration to me. I may re-read that chapter tonight. Actually, I need to re-read the entire book because the Podoll story is also extremely compelling, especially given their location in the heart of Big Ag country. And I don’t want to discount what Virgil Trujillo is doing. He’s also a hero.

    And thanks for sharing my Shine Springs Farm podcast on Facebook. Episode 2 is about to be published and I’ve recorded my first interview–with Margaret Purcell of Katie Farms–for episode 3 (look for Episode 3 on Monday).

  22. You’re welcome. I really liked the Podoll story – the garden as the center and the laboratory.

  23. i really enjoyed both the book review and the links…good stuff!


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