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Taste, Memory: Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors, and Why They Matter Paperback – October 25, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (October 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603584404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603584401
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Not just a feast for the palate, Buchanan’s book is a feast for the souls of those concerned about a fast-food culture that prizes uniformity and convenience over the kind of tastes that cannot be produced on an assembly line. He focuses on heirloom foods, those dating back at least 50 years and unchanged by modern methods of food production. After working in a garden for seven years in Portland, Maine, Buchanan finally settled into a rhythm that offered elements of city and country life—gardening on borrowed and leased land, a quasi farm, and across two acres of backyards, and working informally with other like-minded people in a food enterprise focused on flavor. A pioneer in the heirloom seed movement in the early 1990s, he aspires not to an effete effort at reviving fragile foods but rather to bringing regionally and culturally different foods to the table. His clearly defined goal, to create the best plant collection for this particular time and place, informs this delightful book, rich in delicious details of journeys to discover forgotten foods and flavors. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“A Greek proverb states, ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in’. David Buchanan’s book about food, agriculture, community, and connections to soil and climate, embodies the spirit and vision of the Greeks. Beyond weaving an engaging narrative about farming, the past twenty years of his life reflect the extraordinary changes occurring in American agriculture and a rediscovery of taste and quality in food. We are indeed fortunate that, as a young man, he has many years to plant apples, peaches, and other notable foods!”--Jeffrey P. Roberts, author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese



“David Buchanan takes on his subject, some of it prickly, with grace and eloquence. Taste, Memory is hard to put down. It is beautiful read that illuminates the challenges to and importance of biodiversity, a subject that David frames with our taste buds and personal food histories. A wonderful book, and an important one!”--Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and Local Flavors



“Taste is one of the great joys in life, a sense and sensibility that all of us share. But it is a common pleasure we are in real danger of losing, as our modern world seems bent on a collision course with ever greater homogeneity and the lack of distinctive local flavors and cultures. In this thought-provoking book, David Buchanan captures taste experience from whence it once flowed, from an overpowering, life-enhancing diversity.”--Tom Burford, orchardist, historian, and author of The Apples of America



“Every peach, every turnip, every ear of corn becomes a local food in the fullest sense when gardeners and fruit growers opt for regional advantage.  There are stories to be told here, be it the lore of the Fletcher Sweet apple or the enduring affair of ‘that blonde’ cucumber from the Boothbys.  How well David Buchanan weaves the human element into this celebration of plant selection and provincial cuisine.  Good eating goes hand in hand with our dance with place. Let Taste, Memory bring appreciation for varietal delight to your dinner table.”--Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower



“In Taste, Memory, David Buchanan shares his quest to promote fruit and vegetable biodiversity in New England. "Plant it to save it" is his mantra. In his thoughtful meditation and memoir, Buchanan reveals a powerful commitment to collecting and conserving the apples, blueberries, rutabagas, potatoes and other foods long part of this rocky and harsh landscape. As important, though, is his clear-sighted understanding of the necessary innovations that will be required to preserve the fantastic Baldwin apples, Bordo Beets and Amazon Chocolate tomatoes not just for this generation, but for the next seven generations. An important book.”--Amy Trubek, author of The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir



“Buchanan shows us that reconnecting with the sources of our food reconnects us with what it means to feel alive. His unbridled enthusiasm for all things agricultural—from a forgotten peach variety to the proper soil balance for a rooftop farm—is infectious.”--Curt Ellis, FoodCorps



“With a scientist’s intellect and the heart of a 21st-century Noah, David Buchanan goes beyond biodiversity to explore the true place of Taste, Memory, a sensory experience that ties all of mankind together at life’s dinner table. Using taste as his compass, Buchanan uncovers authentic endangered flavors, making us all long for another serving.”--Poppy Tooker, New Orleans food activist and host of “Louisiana Eats”



Taste, Memory is not the typical storybook novel about finding redemption on an isolated old farm, but a 21st-century success story built around collaboration, innovation, and vibrant new models for sustainable farming.  David's book helps us explore agricultural models past and present, in order to help us find our own unique niche, rhythm and flow in the emerging local food economy.  His ability to help us appreciate the nuances of heirloom crops and regional flavors reminds us that we can help to preserve agricultural and food traditions for the future...one seed, one bite, and one backyard at a time!”--John Forti, garden historian, “The Heirloom Gardener”



"As we increasingly seek to reconnect to our agrarian roots and restore our relationship with the land, we need guides who have been down the path before us and already negotiated some of the tangles along the way. There is no better guide than David Buchanan. Taste, Memory is the captivating work of a writer who is alert to the world around him and ready to learn from it. Buchanan's elegant celebration of the 'ongoing conversation', as he calls it, between generations of heirloom food plants and the families that have lovingly kept them alive, will inspire a new generation to nurture the happy marriages of plants and place that make communities lively, resilient, and deeply meaningful."--Rowan Jacobsen, author of Fruitless Fall and American Terroir



Kirkus Reviews-
"A meander, with hoe, through organic vegetable patches, lost orchards, seed catalogs and produce markets with a dedicated gardener in search of a small farm. From experiments “trying to live off the grid” in Washington state after college to raising produce on semiurban plots around Portland, Maine, Buchanan has always followed his passion for heritage plants: the ugly heirloom baking apple, undersized pear, thin-skinned tomato and other relics of the old family farm lost or marginalized by bottom-line-obsessed agribusiness, environmental degradation and government regulation. In this combination of memoir and treatise for the back-to-the-farm movement, the author laments the loss of 90 percent of America’s crop diversity over the last century. What that means to the average supermarket shopper is dinner without a world of region-specific savors—the fruit of what the French call the terroir. Seeking inspiration and the perfect place to start a market garden, Buchanan made research forays to thriving organic farms and nurseries in New England, talked with seed collectors, visited a USDA gene bank and hunted for heritage apple trees by highways and in backyards. He ponders the relevance of agricultural diversity in the contemporary world and the role individuals can play in keeping heritage varieties in our markets and on our plates. Buchanan ended up swapping work for equipment and the use of small parcels of tillable land around Portland, where he continues to battle late blight and caterpillars to raise a varied crop of rare apples for his own brand of raw cider. It’s a catch-as-catch-can lifestyle, but it’s deeply satisfying to Buchanan and demonstrates the way forward for a new generation of farmers and locavores. A specialized look at the small-farming movement, written with appealing self-knowledge, diligent research and occasional flair."



Booklist-
"Not just a feast for the palate, Buchanan’s book is a feast for the souls of those concerned about a fast-food culture that prizes uniformity and convenience over the kind of tastes that cannot be produced on an assembly line. He focuses on heirloom foods, those dating back at least 50 years and unchanged by modern methods of food production. After working in a garden for seven years in Portland, Maine, Buchanan finally settled into a rhythm that offered elements of city and country life—gardening on borrowed and leased land, a quasi-farm, and across two acres of back yards, and working informally with other like-minded people in a food enterprise focused on flavor. A pioneer in the heirloom seed movement in the early 1990s, he aspires not to an effete effort at reviving fragile foods but rather to bringing regionally and culturally different foods to the table. His clearly defined goal, “to create the best plant collection for this particular time and place,” informs this delightful book rich in delicious details of journeys to discover forgotten foods and flavors."



ForeWord Reviews-
As debate rages about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their impact on seeds and farming, there’s another issue that deserves to be widely visited: the dearth of diversity in our current food system. Because of changes in our agricultural model, scores of once-common fruits, grains, and vegetables have been phased out by the need for food that’s more easily shipped across long distances and stored for days, if not weeks, before getting to market. What have we lost as a result of these farming changes and distribution demands, and what can be gained by preserving the diversity that’s left? Author David Buchanan’s answer, in the form of Taste, Memory, is compelling and important. He combines personal stories as well as encounters with leaders in biodiversity to present a glimpse of what a healthy food system might look like, one in which plants and animals are matched to the land and the climate, not to consumer demand or agribusiness bottom lines. Thoughout, Buchanan’s writing style is lyrical but straightforward, perfect for observations about food and growing. 'My farm project isn’t about just saving seeds or old fruit varieties,' he writes, 'but searching for a creative connection with land and plants that, until the last few generations, was at the heart of most people’s lives.' There’s enormous value in preserving the agrarian diversity that humans have enjoyed for centuries, he believes, and that we’ve only recently lost. Buchanan makes an excellent case for waking up to the issues of crop diversity and how we need to continue exploring how our foods can evolve along with our methods for cooking, preserving, and treasuring them. Buchanan’s work is a savory treat, full of fresh insight and delicious inspiration.


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Customer Reviews

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David reminds us to enjoy the things that are good, and the things that matter in life.
TaraTreichel
He has already made a significant impact on the food and agricultural scene in Maine, as well as touched the lives of many far less fortunate.
TAKOSAN
While clearly a unique character, he is thoughtful, humble, and writes very charmingly.
omni-biblio-vore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TaraTreichel on December 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
So many ideas in this book deserve widespread circulation among growers--and historians, conservationists, culinary fans and anyone interested in preserving AND MAKING USE OF the best of the agricultural legacies of the past, before they're lost forever. Beyond an entertaining narrative of man with an interesting home-grown career path and a knack for good writing, is a story of American agricultural and culinary history. And, what is so cool about it is that it isn't just a history that existed in the past, it is still here, living in the forgotten fields and gardens of our ancestors. I am grateful to David for making such a convincing argument for the importance of agricultural biodiversity, not just to preserve rare strains, but to keep on our tables the best products of all the labor of past generations. I also enjoyed a running side track to the main theme of the book, which is the way that, through the example of his life, David demonstrates many qualities long since lost in our modern era: resourcefulness and frugality, forging ties of work and trade with neighbors, connection with community, and simple living. AND, eating well. David reminds us to enjoy the things that are good, and the things that matter in life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jerry B. Coon on November 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Buchanan is an authentic voice. He offers grounded observations. Astute implementation of old into new. I bought the book based on comments from the internet. This is the first time I've taken the time to write a review. Obviously, I really enjoyed the book. David Buchanan entertains as he pulls you into a journey through forgotten orchards and lost varieties and offers valuable contribution to reviving and implementing old into new. I really want to acquire some of his mentioned varieties. Sleuthing seed and fruit catalogs is the stuff of winter life, and anticipating is almost as good as the tasting of the fruits of our labors.Green and growing!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joe Madison on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Taste, Memory is a mesmerizing book. I was expecting to read about rare produce but instead found a story of a man and how he discovered and embraced his life's passion. David Buchanan is an excellent writer, and the book reads more like a novel than a horticultural dissertation. He describes the characters he encounters -and most of them are indeed characters- as well as the landscape, fruit, and veggies he grows and seeks in vivid, colorful language. It is, in essence, a look into Buchanan's soul. The only distraction for me was that he tends to get a bit preachy in spots, taking us on a long side trip away from the main subject matter with the intent, I guess, of convincing the reader that he's not just another silly foodie snob. For me, this was unnecessary. I was already sure of both his dedication and expertise, which was earned the old fashioned way, through hard work and experience at the shoulder of various old masters.

One of the most interesting points in the book is that many of the fruits mentioned fell out of favor because they were too good for mass marketing. They tended to ripen quickly and be too delicate to ship any distance. One particular watermelon, for example was extremely sweet and delicious all the way to the rind and skin. Of course a melon with a thin, edible skin is far too fragile to move very far from the field where it grew, so the variety was long since abandoned in favor of varieties that could be picked under-ripe and in a pinch, substitute for a bowling ball.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. I finished it in an evening, and like many of the rare varieties Buchanan quests for, the found it to be delicious and leaving me wanting more.

Read this book if:
-You're into rare foods and preservation.
-You enjoy reading about everyday life in early America.
-If you like stories about unique, real people and their obsessions.
-If you enjoy well-written, descriptive non-fiction.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Heidi Kessler on November 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Opening this book each night is like escaping into a world previously uncomtemplated! I'm inspired to understand more about the history of my favorite produce and to reconsider my value as a home gardener as just food producer. To think that I could participate in preserving history is exciting! I can't wait until spring!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TAKOSAN on January 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Buchanan is living the way I can only envy from afar. He clearly works very hard and never tires while pursuing his passions. His is a life with clear purpose and direction, but he doesn't shy away from exploring all the by ways that fate offers him. His commitment to making a difference in the world of food has taken him around the world, including all around the US. He has already made a significant impact on the food and agricultural scene in Maine, as well as touched the lives of many far less fortunate. He is clearly an old soul, who appreciates the wonder around him. The earth and our food system are going to be healthier, more diverse and just happier as a result of his work. I hope Mr. Buchanan keeps on writing and tells us about all of his next adventures!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By omni-biblio-vore on September 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Two books that I read during vacation were Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood and this one. If you know about how irreverently Atwood portrays "eco-aware" characters in her fiction, then I suggest that you think of a character from one of her books. Buchanan is the complete opposite. While clearly a unique character, he is thoughtful, humble, and writes very charmingly. This book deserves to be read more widely.
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