A love-letter to the unexpected delights (and occasional despair) of so-called “first-hand food”—meals we grow, forage, fish, or even hunt from the world around us. To Boldly Grow is “part memoir, part how-to guide and wholly delightful” (Washington Post).
Journalist and self-proclaimed “crappy gardener” Tamar Haspel is on a mission: to show us that raising or gathering our own food is not as hard as it’s often made out to be. When she and her husband move from Manhattan to two acres on Cape Cod, they decide to adopt a more active approach to their diet: raising chickens, growing tomatoes, even foraging for mushrooms and hunting their own meat. They have more ambition than practical know-how, but that’s not about to stop them from trying…even if sometimes their reach exceeds their (often muddy) grasp.
With “first-hand food” as her guiding principle, Haspel embarks on a grand experiment to stop relying on experts to teach her the ropes (after all, they can make anything grow), and start using her own ingenuity and creativity. Some of her experiments are a rousing success (refining her own sea salt). Others are a spectacular failure (the turkey plucker engineered from an old washing machine). Filled with practical tips and hard-won wisdom, To Boldly Grow allows us to journey alongside Haspel as she goes from cluelessness to competence, learning to scrounge dinner from the landscape around her and discovering that a direct connection to what we eat can utterly change the way we think about our food--and ourselves.
About the Author
Tamar Haspel writes the James Beard Award-winning Washington Post column Unearthed, which tackles food from every angle: agriculture, nutrition, obesity, the food environment, and DIY. She’s also written for Discover, National Geographic’s The Plate, Vox, Slate, Eater, Fortune, and Edible Cape Cod.
One of Cosmopolitan’s 10 Best Non-Fiction Books of 2022 You Should Add to Your Reading List ASAP One of Smithsonian Magazine's 10 Best Books About Food of 2022
“To Boldly Grow is part memoir, part how-to guide and wholly delightful.” —Washington Post
“If you have ever fantasized about trading in city life for foraging for your own food, Tamar Haspel…has done it for you in her hilarious memoir…[Haspel] turns her skills as a science journalist toward solving the perplexing problems that come with living off the land and enticing readers with its many rewards.” —Christian Science Monitor
“To Boldy Grow serves as both a memoir and guidebook to discovering the joys food, from planting to plating, can bring.” —Veranda
“In this witty and playful memoir, Haspel chronicles their journey from clueless urban gardeners to competent farmers, foragers and fishermen...[T]ales of epic failure, as well as encouraging tips for anyone looking to develop a better connection with their food.” —Modern Farmer
“Intimidated by the idea of growing your own food? Don’t be! Tamar Haspel’s nonfiction exploration of food, gardening, and creativity offers practical advice on how to grow anything—even without any expert help. It’s a bold blueprint for anyone who wants to broaden their food horizons.” —Life Savvy
“Haspel aims to show that any of us can feed ourselves from our own backyards, as long as we have ingenuity and the will to try. In the end, the book serves as a guide as much as a memoir, with failures as well as successes documented.” —Smithsonian Magazine
“As a Massachusetts resident and occasional visitor to Cape Cod who appreciates its land and sea resources and people, I found the deeply human-to-human and human-to-animal species and natural resource relationships endearing…Exquisite.” —Cape Cod Daily News
“A delightful romp through the pleasures and perils of growing, killing and gathering your own food.” —Concord Monitor
“A journalist who ‘grew up in a food-focused household’ chronicles her adventures gardening and eating in Cape Cod…With witty insight, the author shares their successes and failures along with tips and how-to advice…[A] great stepping-off point for individuals interested in exploring ‘first-hand food opportunities’ and exercising more control over the origins of what they eat. Knowledgeable inspiration for getting out there and getting dirty.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Amusing… [with] a colloquial, curious tone reminiscent of the work of Mary Roach…The bright prose and clever insight make this a pleasure to dig into." —Publishers Weekly
“Brimming with hilarious gardening anecdotes, To Boldly Grow… is an inspirational account of the author's improbable transformation from a city-dweller leading a life of the mind into an avid country gardener… Serving as a detailed six-part guide for readers who are considering food-gathering pursuits of their own and are curious about what it entails, Haspel's debut features all of the brilliant wit and lively storytelling that have made her a popular food and science writer…In this entertaining and practical guide to homegrown food, a journalist discovers the joys of gardening, keeping chickens and ice fishing after moving to Cape Cod from Manhattan.” —ShelfAwareness
“I want to be Tamar Haspel when I grow up…My advice? Run to the independent bookstore down the street and get a copy when they go on sale on Tuesday and/or bug your local library to put a few in circulation—in perpetuity…The book reflects the burgeoning interest in ways to eat more sustainably to help combat the environmental toll taken by an entrenched national food culture.” —Portland Press Herald
“What do you get when one of the smartest journalists on food and nutrition decamps her New York City apartment for a plot of sand in Cape Cod? This fabulous, instructive and hilarious tale of the ‘first-hand food’ that she learned to plant, hook, raise, and kill. This book should be read by everyone who has worked to defeat a processed-food habit by cooking from scratch and now dreams of taking the next step: scratching up dinner from the land and sea.”—Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat and Hooked “Full of bright prose and practical advice for non-experts, there’s a lot to dig into.”—Arlington Magazine “In To Boldly Grow, Tamar Haspel gives us a warm, thoughtful, and thoroughly entertaining account of how she and her husband committed to eating and, therefore, growing, gathering, and, yes, hunting “first-hand” food every day. This is a love story with an inspiring message: if she can raise her own food and have so much fun doing it, you can too.” —Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and Let’s Ask Marion
“Knowledgeable, humble, and hilarious, Tamar Haspel is the perfect guide for people like me, who want meaningful ‘first-hand’ food without having to spend thousands of dollars or hours acquiring it. It’s no exaggeration to say that To Boldy Grow will make you a more creative cook, a more efficient gardener, and, best of all, a wiser human being.” —Alan Levinovitz, author of Natural: The Seductive Myth of Nature’s Goodness
“I see the world differently after reading To Boldly Grow. This book opened my eyes to the miraculous edible abundance all around me. Follow Tamar Haspel’s accessible, unfussy, hilarious advice to get outside and learn about first-hand food by growing and harvesting it for yourself. Getting your hands dirty to contribute to dinner will expand your sense of discovery and wonder, and deepen your ties to your neighbors and the place you call home.” —Kimberly Nicholas, PhD, author of Under the Sky We Make: How to Be Human in a Warming World
"At last, a book for all of us crappy gardeners! Haspel delivers an informative, hilarious exploration of what it really takes to grow—or find—your own food. If you've ever felt the urge to plant tomatoes in your backyard or collect eggs from your very own chickens, let Haspel be your guide." —Elizabeth Willard Thames, author ofMeet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living
“To Boldly Grow is a delightful adventure in finding food and personal growth. Read it, be inspired, and maybe learn a thing or two.” —Stephan Guyenet, author of The Hungry Brain
“To Boldly Grow is the perfect book at the perfect time: a vivid, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable tale of one couple's journey from urban to rural living that culminates with them achieving Macgyver-esque skills for living and eating off the land. But the real win on these pages is Tamar Haspel's rare gift for telling their story with a rolicking, laugh-out-loud style that reminds readers of this basic life truth: humor matters. Whether you aspire to living off the land yourself or are more of an armchair adventurer, To Boldly Grow will leave you feeling informed, well fed and incredibly satisfied.” —Tracey Ryder, co-founder of Edible Communities
“You can absolutely think of To Boldly Grow as a book filled with adventure. Undertaking new endeavors, after all, is not always for the faint of heart – even when those endeavors are as quiet as digging and fishing. Consider it, too, as lighthearted reading: author Tamar Haspel has a great sense of humor mixed with her inner Indiana-Jones-in-the-garden and in that, there’s a lot of good-natured self-ribbing and an appealing open-mindedness for trying new things. But that’s not all. There’s seriousness in this book, and a number of pages full of helpful advice. For total novices who are unsure about raising their own vittles, or for readers who never thought they could grocery shop a few feet from their back deck, that’s very tantalizing information. Whether your tomatoes are starting to bloom, or there are seedlings waiting patiently inside, this is a fun way to pass the time before harvesting it all. Find To Boldly Grow and put something different on your plate.” —Goshen News
“To Boldly Grow will engage the reader with each chapter, proving that no matter how arduous a situation may appear, with careful consideration and organized planning, achievement can be realized—with cherished memories resulting as a wonderful byproduct." —Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star