For over one hundred years, the Mockett family has owned a seven-thousand-acre wheat farm in Nebraska, where Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s father was raised. Mockett, who grew up in Carmel, California, with her father and her Japanese mother, knew little about farming when she inherited this land. Her father had all but forsworn it.
At the invitation of Eric Wolgemuth, the conservative farmer who has cut her family’s fields for decades, Mockett accompanies a group of evangelical wheat harvesters through the heartland as they follow the trail of ripening wheat from Texas to Idaho. Together they contemplate what Eric refers to as “the divide,” peeling back layers of the American story to expose its contradictions and unhealed wounds. She joins the crew in the fields, attends church, and struggles to adapt to the rhythms of rural life, all the while continually reminded of her status as a person who signals “not white,” but who people she encounters can’t quite categorize.
American Harvest is an extraordinary evocation of the land and a thoughtful exploration of ingrained beliefs, from evangelical skepticism of evolution to cosmopolitan assumptions about food production and farming. With exquisite lyricism and humanity, this powerful book attempts to reconcile competing versions of our national story.