A review of An Italian Journey by James Ernest Shaw. For more reviews ,recipes go to The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm at www.marialiberati.com where food meets art, travel and life! Home of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award Winning book series and author.
Editor: Chris Manganaro
Where would we be without farms? Whether we think about it or not, on a daily basis we find ourselves consuming food that would never be on our table if not for farmers. Without farming, civilization likely would not have made it this far, yet the state of farms are in decline. This fact is likely not something that many people know or tend to think about, but it is very important.
James Ernest Shaw is one man who finds himself passionate about farming and beyond worried about the state of farming as it is right now. In his book, An Italian Journey: A Harvest of Revelations in the Olive Groves of Tuscany, farming is one of the topics in which Shaw focuses on quite heavily. His passion and concern for farming is enough to make the reader feel the same way.
The problems that farms face seem to lead in a vicious cycle. They are not able to make enough money due to the bigger, industrial farms that work practically like factories. This means that they have to do their best to increase their profits somehow. They try to do this by getting more machinery in order to move the work along faster, more efficiently. Even doing this merely causes them to lose more money. Quality also suffers due to the fact that the focus is on quantity. This process of thinking has another side effect aside from money loss and quality loss; a loss of traditional farming.
Shaw makes this point quite simply by contrasting the farms he works on. What Shaw wants is to see farming done traditionally, learned through a lifetime of family farming. Unfortunately, that is not the usual way of things anymore. He hears the stories of the farmers and hears their laments. Farmers want to fight the good fight, but they can only do so much just to keep themselves afloat. The book is unable to leave us with more than a twinkle of hope due to the future being so uncertain. Shaw seems the eternal optimist, though, even after discussing such hardship.
While the book does several things throughout, it does a great job of showing the condition that the farming industry is in. Hopefully readers will learn something and take notice. We need farms.
Published in: Cooking