From July to October 2011, Horan (Seeds, 2011, etc.) traveled to 10 owner-operated farms to take part in the harvesting of their crops; this is his flawed but enthusiastic and highly detailed report of that experience.
Though he began his travels around the United States expecting the worst, the author found reason for optimism about the future in the farmers he met. In his view, they are a source of pride and democracy, and he genuinely admires their strength of character and work ethic. During his trip, Horan helped harvest wheat in Kansas, cranberries and vegetables in Massachusetts, potatoes in Maine, raspberries and Brussels sprouts in Ohio, blueberries in New York and walnuts and grapes in California. The author provides in-depth descriptions of each farm’s layout and furnishings, the meals he was served, the bed he was given, the hired help and all the family members. Best of all, he describes each crop’s harvesting process. Readers interested in knowing how cranberries are pulled from bogs or what it takes to turn wild rice into an edible grain will find the answers here. Horan’s love for imparting information leads him to include a host of footnotes, only some of which are relevant. By the end, readers, whom he addresses directly from time to time, may know as much about Horan as about harvesting. He reveals himself as a man of firm opinions, and he leaves the readers in no doubt about where he stands on various environmental, economic, social and political issues. Unfortunately, he also has a solid command of clichés.
This could have been a fine book if the author’s writing matched his energy.