David Mas Masumoto


Name David Mas Masumoto
Born January 20 1954
Birth Location Del Rey, California
Generational Identifier

Sansei

David Mas Masumoto (1954- ) is an organic farmer and the author of ten books including Heirlooms, Letters to the Valley, Four Seasons in Five Senses, Harvest Son, and Epitaph for a Peach.

A third generation farmer, Masumoto grows peaches, nectarines, grapes and raisins on an organic 80 acre farm south of Fresno, California; 40 acres of that farm was originally purchased in 1948 by his Nisei parents, Takashi "Joe" Masumoto and Carole Yukino Sugimoto, who met at the Gila River in Arizona, and married shortly after the war. Masumoto was born in 1954 in Del Rey, California, the youngest of three children. In 1972, Masumoto left the Central Valley to study sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He took a three year hiatus from school to live and study in Japan, which allowed him to make the journey to Kumamoto prefecture to live in the village of his grandparents and work on their rice farm. He returned to California in 1975, and graduated the following year. After undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, a master's degree in community development from UC Davis, and additional studies at International University in Tokyo, Japan, Masumoto decided to return home to work on his family's farm and began writing.

His first book, Distant Voices: A Sansei's Journey to Gila River (Inaka/Countryside Publications, 1982), is an autobiographical account of growing up Japanese American in a farming environment. It also devotes chapters to Masumoto's Japanese heritage, including the effect of the World War II mass incarceration of Japanese Americans on his family and friends. In 1987, he published Country Voices; The Oral History of a Japanese American Family Farm Community (Inaka/Countryside Publications, 1987) combining interviews, essays and stories that describe varied community experiences of Japanese American farming families in California's Central Valley. His best-selling memoir and loving tribute to the Sun Crest peach variety, Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm (HarperSanFrancisco/Harper Collins, 1996) brought him national media attention and drew interest in his interests in organic heirloom farming, writing, and his Japanese American history. Masumoto is currently a columnist for and the Fresno Bee and a regular contributor to the Sacramento Bee. He was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow from 2006-2008. In 2013, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Council on the Arts (board of the National Endowment for the Arts), and will serve a six year term.

His writing awards include Commonwealth Club Silver medal, Julia Child Cookbook award, the James Clavell Literacy Award and a finalist in the James Beard Foundation awards. He received the "Award of Distinction" from UC Davis in 2003 and the California Central Valley "Excellence in Business" Award in 2007. He has served as chair of the California Council for the Humanities. He is currently a board member of the James Irvine Foundation and serves on the Statewide Leadership Council to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2013, Masumoto joined the National Council on the Arts after being appointed by President Obama. His most recent book, The Perfect Peach, co-written with his wife Marcy Masumoto and daughter Nikiko Masumoto, was published in 2013.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Chou, Shiuh-huah Serena. "Pruning the Past, Shaping the Future: David Mas Masumoto and Organic Nothingness." MELUS 34.2 (Summer 2009): 157–74.

Funda, Evelyn I. "Down on the Farm: Memoirs and Nonfiction of Agricultural Lives." Western American Literature 46.2 (Summer 2011): 180–93.

Masumoto Family Farm website. http://www.masumoto.com/.

Books by Davis Mas Masumoto

Masumoto, David Mas. Distant Voices: A Sansei's Journey to Gila River Relocation Center. Del Rey, Calif.: Inaka Countryside Publications, 1982.

---. Silent Strength. Tokyo: New Currents International, Co., Ltd., 1984.

---. Country Voices: The Oral History of a Japanese American Family Farm Community. Del Rey, Calif.: Inaka Countryside Publications, 1987.

---. Gathering Before the Storm: The Fresno Assembly Center, 1942. Del Rey, Calif.: Inaka Countryside Publications, 1991.

---. Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.

---. Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998.

---. Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.

---. Letters to the Valley: A Harvest Of Memories. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2004.

---. Heirlooms: Letters from a Peach Farmer. Berkeley: Great Valley Books/Heyday Books, 2007.

---. Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land. New York: Free Press, 2009.

Masumoto, Marcy, Nikiko, and David Mas. The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2013.