As an urban twenty-something with a CSA farm share, a crush on Michael Pollan, and the occasional yearning to dangle tomato plants from my third-story apartment windows, I think a bit too much about where my food comes from. I often wonder how much of my insanity I will impart upon my future offspring. Will I blend my own baby food? Withhold McDonald’s? Send my kids into my jungle of a garden to weed and bring back dinner?
With the increasing momentum of the local food movement, a bevy of conscientious young parents are likely seeking media to further educate/indoctrinate their children. What better way to instruct your urban children in the true origins of their local, organic chicken dinner than with artist Julia Rothman’s Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life (Storey, October 2011)? Although published for adults, Farm Anatomy is little more than a hefty, hipster-friendly visual dictionary with a dash of farmer’s almanac, making it a good choice for the whole family to share. Rothman’s pen and ink illustrations are heavily hand-labeled, detailing every part of farm life from soil composition to the twenty-six distinct styles of rooster combs.
Rothman’s images can be a bit pastoral and rosy, but the book’s content doesn’t sugarcoat the realities of a working farm. One glance at the double-page spread full of archaic, frightening-looking “tools of the trade” makes me grateful that my urban existence does not require something called an “ear-notcher”.