In Taste, Memory author David Buchanan explores questions fundamental to the future of food and farming. How can we strike a balance between preserving the past, maintaining valuable agricultural and culinary traditions, and looking ahead to breed new plants? What place does a cantankerous old pear or too-delicate strawberry deserve in our gardens, farms, and markets? To what extent should growers value efficiency and uniformity over matters of taste, ecology, or regional identity?
While living in Washington State in the early nineties, Buchanan learned about the heritage food movement and began growing fruit trees, grains, and vegetables. After moving home to New England, however, he left behind his plant collection and for several years stopped gardening. In 2005, inspired by the revival of interest in regional food and culinary traditions, Buchanan borrowed a few rows of growing space at a farm near his home in Portland, Maine, where he resumed collecting. By 2012 he had expanded to two acres, started a nursery and small business, and discovered creative ways to preserve rare foods. In Taste, Memory Buchanan shares stories of slightly obsessive urban gardeners, preservationists, environmentalists, farmers, and passionate cooks, and weaves anecdotes of his personal journey with profiles of leaders in the movement to defend agricultural biodiversity.
Taste, Memory begins and ends with a simple premise: that a healthy food system depends on matching diverse plants and animals to the demands of land and climate. In this sense of place lies the true meaning of local food.