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Why a Farmer Stars in My Response to Fifty Shades of Grey with Recipe

| 2/17/2015 9:57:00 AM

My hero quotes Joel Salatin, listens to bluegrass music, and has cover crops, not riding crops. Every chapter ends with a seasonal recipe such as the Tender Collard Tangle below.

Fifty Weeks of Green 

Why Would a Food Evangelist Write a Response to Fifty Shades of Grey?

When I learned that Fifty Shades had outsold the Harry Potter books, I had to check it out. Clearly the author knew how to get people's attention. I found the first chapter online and was soon shocked by the idealization of heartless behavior. Billionaire Christian Grey intimidates his scuttling employees and agrees with pride when the heroine tells him, “You sound like the ultimate consumer.” This tycoon brags that if he were to sell his company, over twenty thousand people would soon be struggling to pay their mortgages.

The more I read, the more Christian Grey resembled the villains I've fought all my life. He isolates himself from the world using blindfolds, gliders, yachts, and private islands. Then he roughly takes what he wants, crushing lives and exhausting valuable resources. Would young women assume, given the blockbuster status of the books and movie, that Grey behaves in an admirable, manly way?

This thought so haunted me that I wrote Fifty Weeks of Green. I wanted to introduce the world to the folks I meet at the Mother Earth News Fairs and at sustainable agriculture conferences. For research, I joined the Edible Earthscapes community supported agriculture program (CSA) and interviewed my farming friends. To add flavor, I mixed in my favorite book by Wendell Berry, a warning about neonicotinoids, and a bluegrass song by Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road.

All these ingredients went into Roger Branch, who loves to feel good soil and makes it better with sustainable farming practices. He delights in women who know their own minds, in his lively community, and in being part of the dance of nature. He's no saint, with people skills that need cultivation, but that's part of the story. Roger and the other characters help city gal Sophia Verde heal her cynicism and cope with an excess of greens.

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