Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer by Tim Stark
Tim Stark is a crazy person, I think. But he has a beautiful writing style, and I have nothing but respect for the type of passionate madness that makes someone scratch out a living growing amazing tomatoes. The book is both touching and humorous.
Stark seems to choose his words with the same kind of intuition that lets him pick a ripe tomato at its ideal moment. His writing has a rich fullness that had me reading some passages out loud to myself in appreciation. This book will make you salivate if you have even the slightest appreciation for a really beautiful fresh fruit or vegetable. It reads a bit more like a collection of essays than a book written in one chunk, and a couple of the sections have appeared in other venues, but everything flows very nicely without necessarily being chronological or even carefully segued.
I picked this book up as an afterthought to Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. The latter is definitely recommended reading, but I warn you: while Heirloom will likely leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling about tomatoes, Tomatoland most certainly will not.