The Dirty Life: on Farming, Food, and Love

Kristin Kimball
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Aug 6, 2016

If you have any doubt that growing clean food, and sustainable farming takes a special person, Kimball will set you straight. Especially since she didn’t start out a passionate grower. She was, in fact, a New Yorker. A Manhattanite even. A vegetarian Manhattanite living in a shabby cool exposed-brick apartment.

“And [she] fell in love . . . over a deer’s liver”. She met Mark on assignment and got to know him while researching a piece on young farmers bucking the industrial agricultural complex by growing organic food. During her stay, Mark shot, killed and butchered a deer that had been interfering with his plants. He then introduced her to liver, a food she had been led to believe disgusting. But when Mark cooked and served it, “there was something else about it, something more primal, a kind of craving, my body yelling, EAT THAT, I NEED IT. That was [her] first hint that there’s a wisdom to the appetite, that if you clear out the white noise of processed food and listen, healthy and delicious are actually allies.”

And so, after an unconventional courtship, Kimball trades her comfortable life for one of toil and uncertainty. She and Mark get off to a rough start, staying with his parents, and things eventually fall directly into place.

The Dirty Life is filled with inspiration and perfect for the armchair farmers amongst us. Other favorites include, but are not limited to, Farm City by Novella Carpenter, Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard, It’s a Long Road to a Tomato by Keith Stewart, and Goat Song by Brad Kessler.

Tell us your favorite farm tale in the comments!

Reviewed by Helen H.
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