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Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Herbs

Deborah Madison

by Kathy Bond Borie

Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison may travel the world promoting the saving of endangered foods and small-scale agriculture, but her roots are firmly planted in her community of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in its local food traditions. The author of several award-winning cookbooks, Deborah has actively advocated buying locally grown food ever since she opened Greens Restaurant in San Francisco in 1979. The restaurant had its own farm that provided some of the produce, and Deborah sought the rest from local farms and farmers' markets. To Deborah, eating is a political act, and nowhere is this more apparent than at farmers' markets.

"The scope of the farmers' markets is enormous," says Deborah. "[They] have everything to do with our quality of life, from the experience of community that we find there, to the satisfying experience of buying directly from those who grow our food. After experiencing the many joys and satisfactions that the farmers' market provides, we can't help but become aware of such things as land value assessment, water allocation, approval of new developments on agricultural land." Deborah pays homage to farmers' markets in her new book, Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America's Farmers' Markets. She has visited more than 100 such markets around the country, and in Local Flavors she takes the reader to many of them, celebrating both the regional differences, and the common threads that tie each market to its community. The foods are, of course, the main attraction, and Deborah also offers tantalizing recipes for using regional and seasonal favorites.

Deborah's father was first a farmer, later a professor, and she grew up in Davis, California, eating homegrown fruits and vegetables. Food fresh from the garden was one of those facts of life she took for granted. Not anymore. Deborah's devotion to saving our food heritage has taken her to the international arena as a leader in the Slow Food movement.

"The main message of Slow Food is about slowing down to enjoy and appreciate food," says Deborah, "but it's also about knowing where our food comes from and what it takes to produce it, with a concern for the environment and sustainability."

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