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Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In the face of supersizing and a fast-food nation, a growing community of organic farmers and food artisans are producing sustainable nourishment that is respectful to the land and rich in heritage, flavor, and passion. In Fields of Plenty, respected farmer, teacher, and ecology advocate Michael Ableman seeks out these innovative and committed farmers to reveal how the fru ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 13th 2005 by Chronicle Books (first published September 29th 2005)
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Marjorie Elwood
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A look at a variety of organic (even if not certified as such), small-scale farms by a farmer who helped start the organic movement, as he goes on a road trip with his son. In addition to philosophy, there are recipes, and the portrayals of the farmers he meets are understanding of their various eccentricities.

"Growing and eating food are sacred acts; we need to reclaim them from the scientists and the industrialists, the bureaucrats and the organicrats."
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In the same vein as From the Good Earth, in which the author traveled around the world to visit farms and learn about traditional practices, Fields of Plenty is the story of his road trip around the United States with his 23-year-old son Aaron, visiting farms, talking to farmers, taking pictures, and sometimes working side-by-side with people who do the same work he does. Michael Ableman currently lives and farms in British Columbia, but in the early 1980s, he started a farm in Southern Californ ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My father gave me this book. He got it from a church member whose brother is one of the subjects of this book. It is a perfect book for me because it has a journey, recipes, personal stories and contemplation on our relationship with food and our environment.
The author has a farm on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia and decides to spend three months visiting 25 farmers spread out from B.C. to Maine. He drives a Volkswagen van and takes along his camera and his eldest son and does the unthi
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous book! The pictures of the crops and the farmers are breathtaking, but better still are the descriptions of the many ways to approach farming while taking care of the land and being in control of how the crops are planted, grown and harvested. Only a fellow farmer could travel the country with appreciation and respect for his compatriots who fill the farmers markets with food.

"In the quiet and repetition of field work, the mind has a chance to expand, the imagination to loosen. It
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in food, agriculture, beauty, photography, care of the earth.
This is a travel account of Ableman's trip to discover innovative and successful small farmers in Canada and the United States. Ableman was a very successful farmer on 50 acres near Santa Barbara California that was swallowed by encroaching development. Recently he moved to British Colombia and started farming there. In an unusual move he took a summer off for this road trip with his son.
Through beautiful photos and well written text he provides insights into the mindsets of farmers who are en
Oct 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful vignettes told with flair of an anthropologist, beautiful photographs and crazy recipes you'll copy into a new collection. Makes you believe small-scale local agriculture may have a future in North America, as the author (a farmer himself) travels to the ~50 different farms and families and takes a close look at a wide range of farming philosophies, farmed products and cultural backdrops that comprise today's small farms. I've kept this book on my bedside table (despite its huge size) ...more
Aug 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
if you're interested in food politics and the local food industry, this book is a must read. michael ableman is a farmer, activist, writer and photographer that decides it's time to go out and meet some other farmers. this book is a document of all the small farmers working their magic. makes you want to run to your nearest farmer's market and meet all the people that grow the food you eat (or should eat). ...more
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to eat
I loved this book. I want to buy a copy for my father, a former farmer/dairyman who taught organic farming in 1938. Michael Ableman is a photographer turned organic farmer whose trip across America interviewing organic farmers is a beautiful tribute to the creative nurture involved in growing a diverse crop and feeding a community. The photos are lovely, the life tales enthralling, and the recipes - yum!
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I completely enjoyed reading about Michael Ableman's journey from farm to farm. I loved hearing about the different approaches to farming as well as each farmer's history. Even more, it was easy to feel and hear Ableman's love of land and farming in each word he wrote. I checked it out at the library thinking it wasn't a book I would "need" to have, but now I'm wondering if that was such a wise choice. ...more
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book about a farmer's journey back and forth across the US talking to a variety of organic farmers. It was nice to see such a wide variety of farming covered, from large to small, grain to cheese to vegetables to meat. It made me feel hopeful that we can regain control of our food supply and its safety. It also had some really great recipes sprinkled in to help you feel like you were traveling right along with the author. ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book through goodreads--either through recommendations or through the "people who read this book also read" feature.

In this book, Ableman chronicles his summer of driving the US, visiting a variety of organic farmers. We meet them, and learn why/how they came to their work, who they market to, how it goes. The vignettes are written well, and each farmer's/family's voice comes through.

Interesting, with some delicious-sounding recipes included.
Barbara Splett
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book but felt that as the book went along it lost a little momentum. The first couple of farms that the author visits are talked about very patiently and with great detail as he goes along there is less and less detail. I still loved all the farms he talked about and it made me even more excited to grow my own food and buy local!
In this book Michael Ableman shares the story of the journey he and his son took across the United States visiting various farms in Washington, Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Vermont, Maine, New York, Delaware, Polyface Farm in Virginia, etc. I enjoyed his words and the beautiful pictures of beautiful food.
Becky Klein
Nov 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Beautiful book! This farmer/artist takes wonderful pictures of the people he visits and writes so movingly about the family farm it almost makes you want to give you your real job to farm. A tad on the political side, but much less so than the Kingsolver book. Yummy recipes too.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it liked it
I do enjoy Michael Ableman's books. He provides great insight into the perspective and philosophy of the most important people in our society: the farmers.

Three stars because I find it rather foolish that he perpetuates the myth that meat can ever be sustainable (it can't).
Ethicurean Reads
The memoir of farmer, writer, and photographer Michael Ableman about traveling with his son from his own farm in British Columbia across the United States in search of innovative and passionate farmers who are making a difference in what we eat and how we experience food.
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Great taste of sustainable agriculture from across the country. If you want to farm and want to get inspired read this book! Farmers of different cultures, styles, sizes and types. Highlights are the sheep chapter and the elliot coleman chapter. Big yes!
Feb 27, 2009 rated it liked it
The Omnivore's Dilemma (OD)"light" but not a "light" version of The OD.
This book pre-dates The Omnivore's Dilemma by about two years. If you enjoyed that book or at least found the subject matter interesting you should like this one; it stands on its own and is well worth the read.
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author portrayed a poetic yet realistic view of his journey which made the content enjoyable and easy to read. In addition, there was useful information to take away for further research and to ponder.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Non-fiction. Each chapter takes the author and his step son to a different farmer/food producer. They cover most of the united states. Of course each location they visit is an example of sustainable food production, but each with a different specialty or technique. Recipes follow each chapter.
Feb 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written book with equally beautiful photography. Makes you want to be an organic farmer.
Oct 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Beautiful book. A travel narrative following the harvest of sustainable farming across the country. Fantastic recipes are an added bonus!
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Written by a farmer with beautiful pictures and interviews with sustainable farmers. A must see for all food lovers.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gardeners and foodies
Recommended to Dani by:
Beautiful photographs and writing about real food and real farmers.
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
A good read. A little bourgy on the analysis/presentation, but definitely worth reading. A diverse array of characters.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
A fantastic showcase of the variety of ways we feed ourselves. or rather how others feed us.
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: escapist-reads, food
REally gorgeous, part travelogue, part interview and farming manifesto
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
I started this book a while ago, but had to return it to the library. I'd like to finish it one of these days. A wonderful tale, and some yummy recipes too!

Oct 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
fantastic food/farm ideas, stories and recipes.
delicious pear cake -check.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Lovely set of short tales highlighting the author's travels around the nation to diverse farms. Loved the stories and the recipes with each chapter. ...more
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