Heirloom Vegetables: A Guide to their History and Varieties

Simon Rickard. Penguin Books Australia (IPG, dist.), $39.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-921383-06-9
Simon Rickard's beautiful book offers an animating look at the quirky and fascinating world of heirloom vegetables. Countering the misconceptions that heirlooms are "pure" and unsullied by human manipulation, the author explains that "heirlooms are entirely the work of human hands," which is what he feels makes them interesting. Highlighting such oddly named cultivars as Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed Lettuce and Makes the Daughter-in-Law Cry Potato, the book explains, for example, how pumpkins in France grow to be enormous, while in Japan they fit into the palm of the hand. The book explores many divergent manifestations of the same horticultural family, paying special attention to the role of human engineering. The book also offers practical steps and guiding principles for growing food organically. It is not easy to grow one's own food, Rickard warns, but it can be done. This lively book is a good start. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 10/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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