Category Archives: bookstore event

Austin Book Festival

Two vegetarians vs. Two meat eaters. Guess which side I was on? Yep, it was a good old fashioned Texas showdown!

As part of the amazing Texas Book Festival, I was invited to be on a panel moderated by the effusive and lovely Corby Kummer. My fellow panelists were Jimmy McWilliams, a professor and author of Just Food. He argues that local food isn’t all that good and that GM crops might be a boon for our society. He also thinks meat eating should cease. Effective immediately. Jonathan Safran Foer is the stellar novelist who recently published a book about his emotional and philosophical issues with meat eating. Finally, there was Jason Sheehan. A total card/character/really great columnist for Westword in Denver. He actually said, “if my customers like meat that was fed eagle eggs, then I’m serving it.” Even the wild west of Austin grew silent at this, then they laughed. Appropriate response.

ncjsfaustinThen there was me. Like ham in a man sandwich. In the end, I decided the JSF and I have more in common than most vegetarians and carnivores. The whole idea for me, is animal welfare. I want them to have a good life and then they will be more tasty. JSF maybe wants them to stop being tortured on factory farms. It’s not rocket science, he is right. If vegetarians and supporters of good meat could come together, things might just change.

The best part of the whole thing? We got to take over the House Chambers, a giant room where laws get made. I wondered out loud why the public and people like me were allowed to take over the Capitol for Book Fest every year. Turns out the Texas legislature only meets every other year. “If they met more often, they’d just make too many laws,” a young buck explained to me. Ha ha.

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I Heart Madison

I love Madison, Wisconsin! 

First of all, my dear friend and blogger, Kate, lives there. When I was first invited to come to Madison for the Book Festival, I imagined I would be bedding down at the local Motel 8. Luckily, Kate moved last month from Juneau to a charming apartment on the isthmus. And, she’s found work doing gardening. I spent one day with her deadheading, harvesting apples and kale, eating grapes, and weeding said grapes. We found lots of mushrooms while working. 

Second of all, Madison is a really cool town. Lots of cafes and bars. We had great food–crepes and coffee downtown, cheese from Fromagination, and foraged apples (Wisconsin apples are as good as those from Washington State). 

Third of all, the wonderful Lee of Pamplemousse Preserves. She came to my reading, introduced herself, and thrust jars of preserves into my hands. Oh my god, the tomato jam with nigella seeds is unbelievably good! We ended up spending time at her new cafe, Ironworks Cafe at the John Goodman Center, which is a neat new community center in Madison. Holy god, the fresh English muffins. Yummers. 

Finally, my reading at A Room of One’s One, was really fun. Packed room, lots of laughter, great intro from Robert Pierce of Growing Power Madison, Michelle Widgen, and an enthusiastic, food-obsessed audience. It was the first time an audience member asked me specific details about the meat curing process. And how lucky they are in Madison: the chilly temps are perfect for hanging meat at home. 

On my trip back to the airport, the cab driver told me he was reading Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. So he could compare Defoe’s experience with the Plague versus today’s Swine flu epidemic. Not your typical town….

P.S. I also traveled to Chicago and Milwaukee, mostly to meet farmers and see urban farms. As I tour around, I’ll be showing slides of stuff I saw at these particular farms.

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Readings this Week

Hey, just a reminder that if you haven’t seen my little dog and pony show, I’ll be at the following bookstores this week:

Thursday, July 30 at Pegasus on Shattuck in downtown Berkeley. I’m bringing honey and comb, hopefully! 7:30.

Sunday, August 2 at Reader’s Books in Sonoma, 130 E. Napa Street. I heard there’s going to be some yummy foodstuffs! 4pm

Can’t wait to meet you!

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So many wonderful people

I should really get off the farm more often. I’ve had a few lovely experiences recently while on book tour.

1. Copperfield’s reading in Sebastopol. There’s something lonely about showing up to a town, knowing no one, wandering around the park, wondering which part of the book I’ll read. But then I walked into the bookstore and the great staff were so welcoming and friendly, I immediately felt like I was with family. We had a small but eager crowd, and I set off reading and talking. Right before I got my spiel on, the mom and dad of Willow (a character in Farm City and my future co-author) showed up–with flowers! So adorable.

After I read some passages, everyone had great stories to share and I signed books and cut off tiny slices of my ever-shrinking prosciutto. One couple told me about a restaurant owner in Amsterdaam who is keeping two hogs in the back of the restaurant. The plate scrappings are collected and then pointedly carried through the dining area and out to the sty. Yes!

2. Back at the ranch, I have received some amazingingly generous gifts. A burdizzo! The goat castrating tool of my dreams. Thank you so much Art! A care package from some awesome ladies in LA. And yes, the bras fit, thank you. Someone else sent me a Target card, another a check for the farm. Gifts like these make me so happy and I feel blessed to be a writer who appeals to the generous.

3. I had the chance to meet a few really amazing photographers, too. One is Brown Cannon, who shot some really lovely photos of me and Chris at Eccolo, and on the farm. They will appear in August in the SFMag’s food issue. Another photo fella I met recently is Rob Howard. He kicks ass. After a long morning of shooting, we went out for Pho breakfast and talked travel. Look for his photos of me in the September issue of Popular Mechanics.

4. I cringe when I’m invited to do a tv show. I’m not photogenic, I have chin hair, and I have a problem with my sailor’s mouth. So I was grumpy when I headed to Hayward to shoot a live interview with Henry Tennebaum. I arrived uncaffienated and annoyed, I had to get up extra early to milk the goats. Henry was hilarious, with a John Water’s ‘stache and surrounded by Ms. Asia contestants. We ended up having a lot of fun. I have no idea how the show turned out. Same day I went to KGO in SF to be on Gene Burns–an AM radio show. He has one of those real radio guy voices and can read ad copy like a mo-fo. He was so sweet and had great questions, and frankly, I have a little crush on him now. Another great radio interview was with Sinday Roy with KPFA. He had really read the book and had insightful questions. Interestingly, Rose Aguilar is a raw food vegan, so maybe that’s why Sinday did the show?

Weird fact: many of the audience members of my readings have been vegan. At Green Arcade (god: their book selection is mind-blowing), a lovely vegan came up and we chatted for a long time about gardening and writing before she mentioned that she doesn’t eat meat. Now, how cool is that?

Anyway, all I’m saying is: life is surprising.

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Tour Recap

FYI: This is just the same post from the GT Farm blog….

A wise person advised me to keep a journal about my book tour–writing down the names of people I met, things I saw, and questions that were asked. Of course I didn’t do it. Much to my regret.

Here’s what I remember, very hazily: Flew to Portland and went to KBOO for a radio interview (never heard it). Dinner at Paley’s Place (rabbit raviolis) with my uncle and aunt (delish). Met up with Lana and Bill at my hotel. So good to see her. She brought her grandmother’s  tweezers. Which we employed that next morning as I had to go on Northwest AM–a television show–and couldn’t do so with my beard. Lana also cut my hair that morning, to the horror of room service. Met an urban farmer in Portland randomly (we just drove up, she came outside and gave us a tour). Her garden–Kung Fu Farm–put mine to shame. To shame! Lots of chickens. Read at Powell’s to a nice audience and offered people prosciutto (if they bought a book!).

Bombed into Seattle around 1:20am after my reading in Portland. Billy was demanding Dick’s burgers, so we stopped in and had a deluxe and milkshake. Stayed on my friend’s floor for the next three days. Read at the beautiful Town Hall. Met people from Grist. Rode my friend’s bike to Third Place Books. Interview with KUOW. Ate Thai food. Did a conversation/dinner/chocolate reading with Warren Etheridge. We mostly talked about growing pot. He’s great.

Went to my hometown of Shelton where I recuperated and my mom fed me in between naps. Her rural town garden is really going great guns, and she’s thinking about bees. Flew home the next day. Arrived home to see that our landlord painted the house pink and red, the goats were thirsty, and the garden just looked okay compared to what I had seen in the great Northwest.

Also: took zero photos. I’m an ass.

Tomorrow, July 1 (rabbit, rabbit) I’ll be on It’s Your Call with Rose Aguilar at 10am on KALW (call in with some love, ok?), then reading at Green Arcade books on Market, a new awesome bookstore filled with green living and nature titles.  It’s right by Zuni. 7pm.

July 2, I’ll be at Copperfields in Sebastopol. Might bring my extractor and do a demo.

Finally, Michael Jackson: RIP. I really loved you. And I’m so sorry.

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Booksmith, June 15 Book Release Party

Ok, here it is: my first bookstore event, at the lovely wonderful Booksmith in San Francisco, June 15. That’s at  7:30 p.m. The Booksmith is at 1644 Haight Street in SF. We’re planning some food, I’ll probably do a slideshow, and give out unsolicted animal husbandry advice. I hope all you SFers can make it!

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