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Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm Paperback – April 26, 1996


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Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm + The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm + Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (April 26, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062510258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062510259
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a peach of a book, as delectable as the Sun Crest peach Masumoto is struggling to save. It is a superior variety as to taste but has a short shelf life. The author, a third-generation farmer, gives an eloquent account of one year on his farm in the California desert. He notes that grape and tree fruit farmers are deprived of an annual rite that other farmers have?planting a new crop. Peach trees are planted every 15 to 20 years; grapevines, once in a lifetime. And, according to the author, a new planting is like having another child, requiring patience and sacrifice and a resounding optimism for the future. Masumoto's book reveals his commitment to the land and his family; it is also a cogent commentary on American agriculture.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book is a delightful narrative on the life of a Japanese American peach and grape farmer in the San Joaquin Valley near Del Rey, California. With poetic flair and a sense of humor, Masumoto offers his perspectives on the joys and frustrations of raising and tending peaches and grapes. He describes his relationship with the weeds and insects that invade his fields, the unpredictability of the weather, his desire to treat workers fairly, and the realities of the market structure. Reading about Masumoto's attempts to produce high-quality peaches and his fears that rain at the wrong time will destroy his drying grapes will be a truly educational experience for those not familiar with the complexities of farming. Masumoto observes with awe the diversity of nature over four seasons and his family's obligation to plan their lives around the seasons. Many books about family farms today present an image of economic and social distress, but this work portrays the positive aspects as told by a farmer who enjoys his work. Recommended for public libraries.?Irwin Weintraub, Rutgers Univ. Libs., Piscataway, N.J.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

A third generation farmer, David Mas Masumoto grows peaches, nectarines, grapes and raisins on an organic 80 acre farm south of Fresno, California. Masumoto is currently a columnist for and The Fresno Bee and a regular contributor to the Sacramento Bee.

He was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow from 2006-2008. His writing awards include Commonwealth Club Silver medal, Julia Child Cookbook award, the James Clavell Literacy Award and a finalist in the James Beard Foundation awards. He received the "Award of Distinction" from UC Davis in 2003 and the California Central Valley "Excellence in Business" Award in 2007. He has served as chair of the California Council for the Humanities.

He is currently a board member of the James Irvine Foundation and serves on the Statewide Leadership Council to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2013 he also joined the National Council on the Arts through an appointment by President Obama.

Masumoto is married to Marcy Masumoto, Ed.d., and they have a daughter, Nikiko, and a son, Korio.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A good peach should be eaten as it is right out of hand.
Erin R. Clerico
David interweaves his own personal history of farming through three generations to give us an appreciation of a lifestyle that is deeply embeded in one's soul.
Bonita L. Davis
Epitaph for a Peach chronicles a year on Mas Masumoto's farm in the great Central Valley of California.
BT River

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Erin R. Clerico on June 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Epitaph" is a gem and a masterpiece. Masumoto is a good farmer, a truly dedicated family man and a gifted writer. The story is in part about his love affair with a wonderful variety of peach.
City people will know why supermarket peaches disappoint and country people will recognize the sad story of a farmer who, the harder he tries the more frustration he finds. The peaches you find in the supermarket are there because the consumer/supermarket/broker/ value "shelf life" more than flavor.
Peaches don't travel well and they don't last long. The farmer must choose the right variety, prune it exactly the right way at exactly the right time, fertilize and water at the right time, pray fervently for the right weather conditions.
Only then, if the peach absorbs enough sun to fully mature, will it have the full bursting ambrosial flavor a peach should have. Only the sun can make a peach sweet and flavorful. Most really delicious peaches won't last more than three or four days after they are picked.
A good peach should be eaten as it is right out of hand. Not put in a pie or jam or cake. Only a good farmer can grow a perfect peach and no supermarket want them. Where is the answer?
You'll fall in love with farming and weep a bit as you read the Masumoto family story. Perhaps you won't fully appreciate what today's farmers are up against, but this book will give you more insight than you ever had before.
If you are from a farming family you will fully appreciate every word of this beautiful story of a San Joaquin Valley farm.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book moves me in ways I find hard to describe. I'm from a farming family in the San Joaquin Valley in California. My father still grows grapes not terribly far from Mr. Masumoto's farm. When you grow up near the earth and smell, hear, see and touch its produce nearly every day, especially when the fruit is ripe, you can't help but be awed by nature's (and God's) miracles. Living now in a city I long for my children and my friends to understand how deeply tied we really are to the earth and what it produces for us, and how vital it is for us all to take care of our fragile earth. Organic farming requires all of us, farmers and consumers, to think a bit differently about how to grow and shop for our food. Mr. Masumoto brilliantly captured the ordinary, everyday life of a farmer. This book will be going to everyone I know for Christmas this year.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
When David Mas Masumoto describes how his "old-fashioned" Sun Crest peaches look and taste, the reader's mouth waters and the grocery store peaches of today become flavorless by comparison. When Masumoto is unable to find buyers for his peaches he describes them as "homeless" and the reader's heart grieves. This book strongly conveys the small family farmer's ties to the land and his crops, his lack of control before the forces of nature and the whims of market dynamics. It also taught me a few things about the hard work involved in farming. However, when I look back for a "soundbite" impression of this book, I get a series of poetic pictures: Masumoto's obaachan (grandmother) walking through the farm at sunset, cruel bulldozers ripping out an orchard, graceful egrets fishing in the irrigation canals. A great read for a taste of connection to the land!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Williams on July 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
It is rare to read a book where the author works miracles with his hands and his words. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction but finds it dry, without humanity. David Mas Masumoto is anything but dry. His land may be at times, but his poetic prose is anything but. His relationship with his family, his family's farm and nature is a rare combination. I highly recommend this read.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on July 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Death is destined to come to all of creation. In this case it came to a peach but not just any peach. Sun Crest peaches died not because of their bitter taste or ugly appearance. They were a victim of a market that values a long shelf-life more than taste. They were casualties of the public's need for the red skinned variety of the fruit rather than its golden hue. Sorry, Sun Crest, you are no longer profitable or valued for your sweet and juicy taste. It is time for your demise.
With moving eloquence and lyrical prose David Musumoto shares with us the story of his attempts to save a peach whose cultivation was a defining part of his life. David's story is the story of all family farmers struggling to stay alive and afloat in the vast world of the agribusiness. As one who is a resident of the "peach" state and has seen the destruction of its groves and dispersion of family farmers, I can readily identify with the various themes of which David shares.
Walk with him through the four seasons where we learn about the preparation of the soil, pruning, watering, caring, harvesting and marketing of the peaches. You find out that farming is hard work that requires faith, patience, experimentation and a tough hide when you experience failure. David interweaves his own personal history of farming through three generations to give us an appreciation of a lifestyle that is deeply embeded in one's soul.
As citizens in the 21st century we have some numerous decisions to make. Do we want agribusiness to control our food supply thus limiting our choices or we will support farmers such as David who offer us a product more satisfying?
Read more ›
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