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Monty and Sarah Don are out to steer a middle course between the prevailing, impoverished approach to food production and the behaviours of total cranks whose worry and right-on-ness sucks the pleasure out of the whole business. The book, made to accompany the Channel 4 series, is full of exquisitely simple recipes and fuss-free gardening advice. (The beetroot and red chard risotto is a marvel.) As the diary of a year rooted to the soil, it's sure to be a modern classic. But don't be seduced into thinking it's any sort of bible or cure-all.
It's actually much easier to take advice from a crank--you take what you need and ignore the rest with a clear conscience--than to navigate books like this one, in which everything is tied up with everything else in a seamlessly "sensible"--and unique--scheme. "A boned leg of organic lamb, raised on the water meadow butting onto the garden, strewn with plenty of rosemary and cooked over the most basic of wood fires is not sophisticated cuisine, but a genuine feast nonetheless." Well, sure--but so what?
Monty and Sarah Don are rightly proud of the lifestyle they've achieved. But take their advice, and don't get hung-up. Pillage their prose. Take what you need. --Simon Ings