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Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring Paperback – January 17, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0393325362 ISBN-10: 0393325369

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

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393325369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393325362
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

California peach farmer David Mas Masumoto's Four Seasons in Five Senses is about awareness--of the process by which peaches are grown and enjoyed; of the sensual "stories" by which farmers learn their work and place in it; and of farming itself, whose cycles of birth, growth, and decay make it a telling metaphor of life. In a series of short essays, such as "How to Eat Peach," "Got Umami," and "The Art of Grunting" (an amusing exploration of work sounds), Masumoto shows readers his inner-outer world. Masumoto's eye is, however, always fixed on the narratives we tell ourselves. "The best farmers of personalized products strive to create true stories and personal connections through our fruits," says Masumoto, "a journey through four seasons in five senses." But Masumoto also lives in the world of commercial imperatives. "We [farmers] work for pennies," he says, "and people of America spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than do people in any other country." A provider of a highly perishable "handmade" product that must nonetheless reach consumers in a state worthy of his commitment to it, Masumoto is frustrated by the plight of "slow food" in a fast-food world. "Farming must be circular in contrast to the straight lines of business," he says.

Despite repetitiveness, some overreaching prose ("I see with my senses, aware ... a tree with peach lights in it, a siren of harvest time," for example), and an inclination to self-regard (as opposed to self-attentiveness), readers will follow Masumoto's tale avidly, enjoying particularly his depictions of the peach growing process. For those of us lost to modern industrial life, the realization that there is a farmer behind every piece of fruit our supermarkets sell, and that his or her whole awareness can be in that fruit, is a revelation. That disclosure is at the center of Masumoto's enlightening tale. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this collection of essays, the author, a writer, lecturer and organic peach and raisin farmer, explores farm life through the five senses, rhapsodizing on-among other things-the color of weeds, the smell of mud, the sound of a shovel sinking into soil, the feel of old work boots and, above all, the "explosion of flavor" from his Sun Crest peaches. Masumoto (Harvest Son) celebrates the homey routines of small-scale, low-tech farming passed down from his Japanese-American clan, and inveighs against industrialized "fast farming" and its flavorless products. In but not of the commercial nexus, his own peaches are "a dialogue between producer and consumer," and they create new memories, "emotions" and "true stories and personal connections." It all adds up to a Thoreauvian manifesto in which the organic farm is the last refuge from a modernity that deadens the senses and deprives us of authentic experience. When Masumoto has something to write about, like his family's wartime internment or the economics of produce distribution, he writes well. Too often, however, his sensual epiphanies degenerate into food porn ("my teeth sink into the peach's succulent flesh, and juice breaks into my mouth as I seal my lips on the skin and suck the meat") or impressionistic sentence fragments ("Chickens. Barns with barn owls. Porches. Straw hats."). A readership of connoisseurs, slow-food enthusiasts, and unhappily deracinated urbanites will warm to Masumoto's ode to the exalted spirituality of organic farming, but some may find it nostalgic and overly sweet.
Copyright 2003 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tong L. Ginn on January 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Reading David Masumoto's Epitaph for a Peach changed the way I viewed peaches. While I always liked peaches, Masumoto's passion for peaches elevated them to the top of the fruit ladder. However, I felt that he had reached the end of that genre. How much more was there to say about peaches and peach growing? I was wrong. Four Seasons and Five Senses is a wonderful book which deepens my affection of peaches and enhances my knowledge of the process.
He has grown so much as a writer since Epitaph for a Peach. He's able to bring to life the love of farming, the excitement about organic peaches, the anxieties about the market and weather, the sensuality of eating luscious fruit, the uncertainty of prices, and the difficulty of the labor. He breaks the stereotype of ignorant farmers. He connects peach farming with such diverse subjects as chamber music, migrant labor, and entomology.
I did not want the book to end.
Having tasted Masumoto's peaches also helps for they truly are amazing. I recommend the book to anyone who appreciates good food, wants to know about the experience of organic farming, and is interested in whole process of getting a peach to market.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Fletcher Adolph on August 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The writer is a farmer who grows organic peaches and grapes (for raisins) in California. That's about like saying that Mother Teresa is a nun from Eastern Europe...true enough as far as it goes, but it misses the point. The writer is a gentle philosopher who loves his farm and his crops and celebrates both with all of his senses throughout the year. To read this book is to share that intense feeling about the land and growing things, along with the hope and despair that accompanies each crop.
In very few books do you encounter such a deep love of the land and growth of plants and sensitivity to it. Seldom do you find an understanding of the unity and wholeness of farming in its true sense. The writer incorporates his own Japanese background and the labour of his parents and grandparents and the toil of his Mexican farm laborers into his understanding of the soil, the climate, the market and most of all the fruit he grows.
All five senses are used to give the reader a multi-dimensional feeling of immediacy. The writer shares with us the sweat, the dust, the heat, the memories and the hopes - all the complexities of growing a truly luscious peach. This is no sentimental view of farming, but it does explore the soul of the relationship between a man and the land.
This book is for anyone who loves the land and understand the magic of growing things.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tong L. Ginn on January 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Reading David Masumoto's Epitaph for a Peach changed the way I viewed peaches. While I always liked peaches, Masumoto's passion for peaches elevated them to the top of the fruit ladder. However, I felt that he had reached the end of that genre. How much more was there to say about peaches and peach growing? I was wrong. Four Seasons and Five Senses is a wonderful book which deepens my affection of peaches and enhances my knowledge of the process.
He has grown so much as a writer since Epitaph for a Peach. He's able to bring to life the love of farming, the excitement about organic peaches, the anxieties about the market and weather, the sensuality of eating luscious fruit, the uncertainty of prices, and the difficulty of the labor. He breaks the stereotype of ignorant farmers. He connects peach farming with such diverse subjects as chamber music, migrant labor, and entomology.
I did not want the book to end.
Having tasted Masumoto's peaches also helps for they truly are amazing. I recommend the book to anyone who appreciates good food, wants to know about the experience of organic farming, and is interested in whole process of getting a peach to market.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BT River on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having just read and enjoyed two other books by Mas Masumoto, Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil and Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm, I was a bit uncertain if Mas would meet my high expectations in Four Seasons in Five Senses. I wasn't disappointed. There seems to be a natural progression in his writing from his earlier works - Epitaph to Harvest Son to Four Seasons.

Mas continues to write about his struggles on his family farm trying to be organic and still make a living. This book is also about how our senses provide connections to our past and to others. These are some of the experiences that Mas relates to us: The sound a shovel makes slicing through a weed; the smell of chicken cooking on an open fire; the taste of dirt; the touch of calloused hands; the sight of an orchard in bloom.

Many of the stories Mas recounts are about simple things told from a different perspective. Driving a tractor in the dark becomes a story about sounds and touch. Walking in his orchard or vineyard is a favorite vehicle for relating stories of sights, sounds, smells and, even, dance. A burning woodpile frames the story of his parents internment.

You don't necessarily have to be be from a family farm, but I think that the connection with his stories is so much stronger if you are.
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