As agritourism, farmers’ markets and the organic and slow-food movements have taken off, so has a renewed interest in America’s agriculture. The time is ripe for a field guide to California’s most consistent economy — agriculture, consisting of more than 75,000 farms and ranches. Two University of Nevada, Reno Foundation professors have teamed up to produce a fact-filled, entertaining, practical guide to California’s production of almost 400 different crops, which has created “the most dramatic modern agricultural landscape in the world,” as the authors argue in the book’s preface.
Paul Starrs, geography professor, and Peter Goin, art professor, have co-authored a “Field Guide to California Agriculture,” published by the University of California Press. They spent six years developing the work, obviously engaged in a labor of love, as their respect for the industry, its people and the agriculture’s many faces shine through in the 506-page book.
Starrs’ lively and thoughtful writing and Goin’s eye-opening and often humorous photographs transform the book from simply a factual “catalog,” useful to academics and those in the industry, to an enjoyable survey for a general audience that tells a story of heritage, culture and social significance.
The guide covers California’s array of diverse crops and animal products, from chestnuts, cheese and cherries, to cabernet, cattle and cannabis.
The bulk of the book’s pages are taken up with a survey of crops, but the book also contains a historical overview, a section on the state’s agricultural regions and a dramatic gallery of larger-format photographs, “The Paradox and Poetics of Agriculture.”