American Heirloom Vegetables: A Master Gardener's Guide to Planting, Seed-Saving, and Cultural History

William Woys Weaver, Author, Peter J. Hatch, Foreword by Henry Holt & Company $45 (592p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4025-8
Assembling just about all there is to know about tubers (and beans and legumes), Weaver (Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking) passionately exposes myths of plant origins and clarifies confusions of varieties. An advocate of biodiversity, Weaver aims to restore endangered and rare food plants to American gardens and kitchens. Offered as a kind of verbal Noah's ark for vanishing vegetables, the book profiles 280 ""living antiques."" These plants range from the quirky (unusual root vegetables such as evening primroses and dahlias) to the haunting (the ""Trail of Tears Bean"" carried by Cherokees on their forced migration). The plant profiles include tips on planting, harvesting, seed-saving, maintaining seed purity and cooking. Despite engaging curiosities (e.g., an onion soup ""much used by ladies... after the fatigues of a ball""), the plain recipes here may inspire more curiosity than cooking. Weaver traces American kitchen gardening from its classical Roman roots, as well as its economic development--from subsistence home gardens to profit-making market gardens to contemporary agribusiness. This encyclopedia is bound to become the seed-saver's bible, a holy book for gardeners intent on doing their part to combat the genetic winnowing brought about by industrial agriculture. Photos and drawings not seen by PW. First serial, electronic and audio rights: Blanche Schlessinger. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997
Release date: 04/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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