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‘Why I Farm’ takes a critical look at dinner

Gloria Sinibaldi

Third-generation farmer Gary Romano, owner and operator of Sierra Valley Farms and author of “Why I Farm, Risking It All for a Life on the Land,” has a lot to share with us about farming. His book, recently released by Meyers publisher Bona Fide Books, lays out in detail the plight of small farms as well as the need for consumers to take charge of what’s served on their dinner plate. He calls on both farmers and consumers to take action for change. “Why I Farm” can be used as a resource to inspire thoughts about our food supply, or it may serve as a springboard to evoke the inner farmer in you. It is honest and forthright, directly from a farmer’s perspective. Romano lays out his point of view and speaks openly from his heart. “No, farmers, no food,” he says. Now that’s straight talk.

Romano feels that small farmers have been set up to fail due to the tax and financial system, the food system and the rules and regulatory system. Big business has moved in and dominated. He points out major shifts that have occurred in the farming industry over past decades. The media presentation of the farmer presents another concern. When you think of a farmer you probably picture a guy in a flannel shirt holding a pitchfork and wearing a straw hat. This image is generally not appealing to young entrepreneurs seeking out their vocation. More pleasing is the white-collar guy with the shirt and tie. You know him. He’s driving the BMW. A major media makeover could potentially create a resurgence of interest in farming that would send dedicated, quality workers back to till the fields. Romano promotes diversity for modern-day farmers as a key to survival. Statistics say that in today’s climate only 35 percent of farmers cite farming as their main source of income. Many farmers fail in the first year. Bringing in extra cash is essential. Romano shares some of his diversification strategies. They include value added products and farm related community events.

“Why I Farm” offers a lot more than facts, policy and a farmer’s perspective. It is engaging and filled with charm from the first page. Romano tells us about his life growing up as a farmer and shares details about his close-knit, hardworking Italian family. His depiction of farm life as a child is filled with historical content. It exposes the evolutionary process of the farming industry, but, beyond that, it reveals a touching story of a family’s rich history. Photographs bring Romano’s narrative to life.



Farming is not for wimps. We understand this in the end. It’s for those who have passion, pride and are willing to work hard and think outside of the box. “Why I Farm” is a good read for anyone who cares about what they eat. Shouldn’t we all? As an organic farmer, Romano talks about food quality and spells out the great divide between the small farmer and the large chain store food giants. Want to know the lifespan of a head of lettuce from farm to grocery store shelf? It’s an eye opener. Think fresh, go organic, buy small. “Why I Farm” is enlightening, passionate and important. Read it for your health.

Gloria Sinibaldi resides part time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story “A Means To Survive” appears in “Tahoe Blues.” She is a job coach, trainer and author. She contributes monthly to the business section of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Contact her at: glorialinda16@gmail.com.


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