Photo: Hachette Book Group
If you've ever dreamed about quitting your job and leaving it all behind for an adventure -- and especially if that adventure was based on food -- then these food memoirs are the perfect armchair escapes.
The five books here follow people who moved to apple orchards and brand-new farms, who raised oysters and baked the perfect loaf of bread, all in pursuit of learning more about where their food comes from -- and how it gets to their plate.
1. The Orchard by Theresa Weir
The Orchard sounds like your typical city-girl-meets-country-guy tale, but it's not all happy endings: Author Theresa Weir opens up about her own harsh childhood and the difficulties she faced being accepted by her husband's relatives after they moved to his family's apple farm to begin their life together.
Reviewers and readers also point out that Weir doesn't shy away from talking about the pesticides used on the farm -- and the long-term effects that the chemicals had on the health of her family and the land.
2. Eating for Beginners by Melanie Rehak
Figuring out what to feed your kids -- and what they'll actually be willing to eat -- is one of the toughest jobs facing a parent -- or at least it was for mom Melanie Rehak, author of Eating for Beginners, whose picky son Jules wouldn't touch a thing she fed him.
Already a sustainable eater herself, Rehak decided to go one step further: She worked on the farms and in the kitchen of a small local restaurant, all in an attempt to find a balance between feeding her family and staying in touch with her environmental ethics.
3. Shucked by Erin Byers Murray
Food writer Erin Byers Murray (also my former coworker) left her job as the Boston editor of Daily Candy in 2009 to spend her days with the crew of Island Creek Oysters, a Duxbury, Mass., oyster farm.
Over the course of 18 months Murray learned the business of bivalves -- from freezing cold days in the water to on-land festivals. She also got a firsthand look at how oysters end up on your plate -- meaning after one read of Shucked, say reviewers, "You'll never take an oyster for granted again."
4. 52 Loaves by William Alexander
If you're idea of finding the perfect loaf of bread is choosing between sliced white or wheat at the supermarket, then you just might learn a few things from William Alexander in 52 Loaves.
In pursuit of the best possible bread, he grew wheat and turned it to flour, tried to perfect his own process, and finally found himself in a Norman monastery where he hoped to learn from the masters. As Entertainment Weekly put it, "Nitpicking obsessiveness was never so appetizing."
5. Growing a Farmer by Kurt Timmermeister
If there was anyone who could make a smooth transition to farming, Kurt Timmermeister, the author behind Growing A Farmer expected it would be him: He was already a chef, baker, and restaurant owner when he decided to try his hand at starting a farm.
But turning the patch of land into a bountiful supplier of produce, meat, and even honey was tougher than he expected. Whether you need inspiration for a garden of your own or just want to follow his ups and downs, it's all here.