Portraits of Artisanal Farms from America's Heartland
By Anna H. Blessing
(Agate Midway, Paperback, 9781572841291, 288pp.)
Publication Date: July 2012
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This beautiful new book by 30-year-old writer and photographer Anna H. Blessing introduces readers to the story of the modern heartland farm. The book explores how sustainable practices--and close ties to high-profile chefs and restauranteurs--have propelled the "locally grown" culinary movement into a central feature of life in major cities like Chicago. Blessing lays out the rich histories of 25 midwestern farms through beautiful photography, fascinating anecdotes from farmers and chefs, and up-close looks at what makes each farm so unique.
Interest in sustainable farming has been growing rapidly across the country and around the world, emphasizing locally produced and grown foods in place of the mass-marketed offerings from corporate consortia. When inhabitants of major cities choose to purchase food raised in nearby farms, they not only support vital satellite economies, but also improve the social and ecological quality of life along with the environmental sustainability of the world around them.
Now there are also innumerable top-tier dining establishments, led by esteemed chefs like Charlie Trotter and Paul Kahan, who scour farmers markets for natural ingredients and develop personal business relationships with small-time farmers to supply their restaurants with the best and most sustainable foods. Locally Grown shows how both long-standing and newly founded farms, along with urban farms and metropolitan nonprofit organizations like Growing Power and City Provisions, are boosting the sustainable food movement throughout Chicago and its neighborhoods.
Each chapter profiles a different farm, outlining locale, scale, production, and inner workings while also revealing the captivating backgrounds of each farmer. Blessing shows how each farm and farmer are making efforts to improve sustainability, and describes the behind-the-scenes practices that have made locally grown food an increasingly important part of America's food culture.
Contributions from each farmer, and from chefs they work with, are included in every chapter, lending an intimate feel to Locally Grown--recipes, how-to's and Q&As that together create a riveting account of the rapidly changing world of modern farming.
Beyond profiling these Midwest farms, Locally Grown points out the best places to find, buy, and eat sustainably grown foods, as well as details on visiting the farms.
Anna H. Blessing researched, wrote, and photographed 14 editions of the eat.shop book series in addition to being a regular contributor to many other print and online publications, including Lucky, for which she was Chicago editor for six years. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.
PRAISE FOR ANNA BLESSING'S LOCALLY GROWN:
"Part cookbook, part storybook, it's an irresistible collection of feel-good anecdotes, vivid photographs, and recipes from both chefs and farmers." Carly Boers, Chicago magazine
"An inspirational glimpse into one vibrant area of the local food movement." Kirkus Reviews
"[Locally Grown] spotlights entrepreneurial sustainable farmers in the Midwest and the Chicago chefs who use their ingredients.... Each farmer's story is accompanied by anecdotes from well-known Chicago chefs, including Paul Kahan and Stephanie Izard, who describe how relationships with these growers are central to the success of their own small businesses." Judith Nemes, Crain's Chicago Business
"We love supporting the local movement, and this book has us craving a road trip to see the process firsthand." PureWow
"A truly engaging look at [the] Midwestern farm." Amy Azzarito, Design*Sponge
"Author Anna Blessing, a freelance writer from Chicago, found [organic farmer Jude] Beckerand 19 other independent farmersby talking to Chicago-area chefs who use organic and local products.... [Becker] agreed to be part of the book, he said, because, 'it is important for people to understand the cycle of farm to table and how committed farms, chefs and eaters need to be to make the cycle sustainable for all, and I think Anna can show this in her book.'" Jennifer Miller, Des Moines Register
"Anyone who enjoys farming stories, cooking, animals, and locally grown food will treasure this book. It’s well done, interesting, and beautiful." Margo Dill, News-Gazette, Champaign, IL
"Anna Blessing’s reverent new book, Locally Grown, explores Midwest farms and the people who run them, providing rich history, photographs, and seasonal recipes. Chef specialties are nice (they’re in the book, too), but we love Blessing’s inclusion of farmers’ family dishes." Daily Candy Chicago blog
"The local foods movement has captured the attention, and the imagination, of many of the chefs among us.... In her new book, Locally Grown, Blessing set out to find out what makes midwestern farms and Chicago chefs such a good fit." Mitch Teich, Lake Effect, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio
"With the popularity of farmers markets in this region, the interest of consumers in locally grown food is becoming more and more apparent.... I was struck by [Blessing's] references to agriculture not only as a science, as we've always known, but also as an art." Spectrum West, WPR Wisconsin Public Radio