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Farmer John's Cookbook

(article, John Peterson & Angelic Organics)

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h3. From the introduction: "Food Then and Now"

Thousands of years ago, men and women learned to cultivate the soil and domesticate plants and animals. Over time they learned to make use of an astounding array of edible plant species and breeds of livestock. With few exceptions, this bounty of grains, vegetables, fruits, and animal goods remained close to their land of origin, nourishing the people who raised them, as well as others who lived nearby. 

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h1. About the book and author

John Peterson still farms the land he grew up on, outside of Chicago. He is the subject of the documentary film "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" and the chief author of Farmer John's Cookbook, a veggie cookbook and farming manifesto that grew out of Angelic Organics, the CSA based on his farm. 

Excerpt reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith (2006).

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For centuries people relied on local ecosystems, neighbors, and on their own hands to raise food. However, this last century has witnessed a shift from small family farms to a complicated system that packs food on semis and planes destined for distant states or even countries.

Recently, many consumers have begun to sense that something is lacking in their experience of food. Perhaps they miss the flavor and freshness in their produce or the celebration that comes with a harvest; maybe they long to touch and smell the soil or to see the familiar face of a farmer. Whatever their individual reasons, these people are embracing a movement that recognizes food in relationship to a specific piece of land and to a particular group of people. 

This worldwide movement, called community-supported agriculture (CSA), honors a commitment between growers and consumers in which consumers pay a grower up front for a weekly share of the harvest. Bypassing distributors and supermarkets gives farmers financial support, which in many cases enables them to continue farming. In turn, the consumers, often known as shareholders, receive regular boxes or baskets of fresh, local, and often organically raised produce, from a source they know and trust.

Most CSA members say that what they bring home with their weekly harvest shares is much more than just food. Shareholders experience many rewards that emanate from their connection to a farm. There's the magic of opening a box of food that brims with color, freshness, and vitality, and there's the understanding that their produce was raised using sustainable farming practices. There's also the knowledge that our food choices positively impact the environment, the local economy, and our health.

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Even though you can sense from the above that we at Angelic Organics are excited about community-supported agriculture, we know that a CSA might not be your source of vegetables. Perhaps there's no CSA in your community, or perhaps you want more — or less — variety than a CSA farm can offer, or maybe you want more control over the quantity of your vegetables.

If you are not a CSA member, maybe you support your local farms by purchasing vegetables at a farmers' market or from a stand at a local farm. These are also great ways to get to know your farmers, to support your local economy, and to develop a more intimate relationship with weather and with your bioregion in general.

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h1.Featured recipes




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Or maybe you have your own garden, and you raise most of your own vegetables. (Then you can know your farmer by knowing yourself.)

Or you may find that you do most of your vegetable acquisitions in the produce section of your favorite grocery store.

However you obtain your produce, this book is a great guide for cooking with vegetables and for connecting you to the source of your food. Farmer John's Cookbook is for people who love vegetables and the earth that provides them.

Elsewhere on Culinate: An interview with John Peterson and a review of his book.


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