Local Authors Take on Food and Farming in 3 New Books
A cider maker, a farmer, and a restaurateur reflect on their experiences within the Hudson Valley culinary industry.
Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black / Photo by Rush Jagoe
Farming While Black serves as a manual for the work happening every day at Soul Fire Farm, where Leah Penniman (a Hudson Valley Magazine 2018 Women in Business honoree) and her team work to dissociate land from the pain their ancestors endured. She writes that race informed not only her understanding of the world, but also the manner in which she could enact change. “Black activists were concerned with gun violence, housing discrimination, and education reform,” she writes, “while white folks were concerned with organic farming and environmental conservation.” Penniman confronts this disparity, highlighting overlooked contributions of black farmers throughout history: organic methods, CSAs, and community land trusts. She provides detailed instruction on everything from land access to seed harvesting, and couches this information in an illuminating discussion on ending racism in the food system.
348 pages, Chelsea Green Publishing, $34.95 (softcover)
What originated as a cookbook morphed into a memoir of Frank Guido’s expansive portfolio of restaurants, the relationships on which they depended, and the lives that have intersected with his own — a dizzying list that includes De Niro, Sinatra, Chubby Checker, Muhammed Ali, Rudy Giuliani, Jessica Biel, and Kanye West, among others. Been There, Done That! reads like your grandfather plopped you down for story time, except instead of wizards and dragons, his tale is populated by characters like the old Italian bookie in Flatbush, who buried his cash in Mason jars. It’s a story only Guido can tell, and his title says it all.
213 pages, Epigraph Books, $25 (hrd)
Release Date: May 2019
In this forthcoming book, local cider maker Andy Brennan reflects on his shift away from traditional apple cultivation. Since 2011, Aaron Burr Cider in Wurtsboro has carved out a name for itself thanks to Brennan’s use of wild apples and yeasts in natural cider production. He suggests that yet again, nature may hold the answers humans seem determined to forget.
304 pages, Chelsea Green Publishing, $24.95 (hrd)