Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: The Dirty Life

This book was absorbing and compelling all the way through.  It goes way beyond "city girl marries farmer."  Ms. Kimball describes how, although she was completely unfamiliar with farming, she almost instantly was captivated by its gritty fundamentalness.  She felt safe, seeing literally for the first time in her life where food actually came from.  A New Yorker, she had rarely cooked.

The farmer who became the author's husband, and with whom she started and currently operates a whole-diet CSA farm, is a fascinating man who lives his beliefs about how food should be grown, and he cooks fantastically simple yet complexly-flavored meals with the farm produce. 

There are no recipes, but that's kind of the point.  The author writes that when we move to seasonal, local eating, "The central question in the kitchen would have to change from What do I want? to What is available?"  The Kimballs provide "naked, unprocessed food, two steps from the dirt."

Their Essex Farm is the first whole-diet CSA in the country, providing members with beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, herbs and vegetables, berries, grains and flours, legumes, and maple syrup. 

This is a book to savor, but that will have to happen on my second trip through.  The first time I was completely caught up in the suspense inevitably generated when livelihood is linked so directly to something as capricious as Nature.


  1. Way cool. I'll have to buy it so we can study up!

  2. Yes. Did you know cows eat the afterbirth right away when the calf is born? There's a theory it's so that predators won't scent it, zero in on mama and baby, and eat the little calf. The author does not gloss over the difficulties, nay, crushing defeats, that farming can involve. It's a very real book. No fluff. So there's that. :)

  3. I read part of this book and passed it on to my sister to read while I finish the Little House books. I love it already! and so does she. My nephew (her son) is so like the guy in the book. Hoping the end of the book will give him some insight to reaching his goal of being a farmer.

  4. Cool! One of the most interesting aspects of the book was the relationship of the couple. I think Mark might be a little exhausting to live with!