"Japanese Farm Food" Details Country's Local Movement

How they do "figs on a plate" in Japan

The boons of cooking locally are mostly self-evident.

But there are pitfalls, one of which is the propensity for developing "local-food myopia." This happens when we're so focused on the produce in our backyard that we fail to explore the local-food movements taking place elsewhere.

Shaking us out of this tunnel vision is the new, gorgeous and deliciously geeky cookbook, Japanese Farm Food ($35). Its author, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, has an insightful vantage point: She left northern California at the beginning of the organic farming movement and relocated to Japan to live with her husband, a Japanese egg farmer.

The book chronicles her life on the organic farm, examining seasonal traditions like the rice harvest and the roles of different individuals in the agricultural circuit, from neighboring farmers to local fishmongers.

But its best asset is its most essential: Elegant recipes that transport those who cook them. The dishes also share one of our favorite aspects of American farm-to-table cooking: simplicity. From salted cucumbers with miso and sesame to charcoal-grilled yellowtail collar, each one hinges on ingredients at their prime, each given a deliciously minimalist treatment.