Just Picked tells the story of one man’s fanatical journey to reveal the bounty of the American farmers market. Through portraits of just-harvested finds, as well as recipes and notes, photographer Lui Sykes illustrates the astounding diversity, beauty and flavors of farm produce in this monumental project. For four years, Lui has combed farm stands moments after they open, obsessively hunting down the most striking examples of each varietal to spotlight in a studio portrait. Drawing exclusively from regional farms supplying just one market – the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan – Lui has so far captured 844 unique varieties of vegetables, fruit, herbs, mushrooms and nuts, most of which cannot be found on supermarket shelves.
A voracious (6-and-a-half foot tall) food fanatic with a distant past in restaurant kitchens, Lui enthusiastically vowed that not one of his 844 mouthwatering subjects would go to waste. He would cook them all. Early on, he discovered that most cookbooks are still organized for supermarket shoppers with access to the same constant but limited selection year round. For seasonally inspired cooks, the majority of cookbook content is irrelevant at any given time of year. Just Picked recipes and notes bridge this gap. For the first time on this scale, cooks have one destination where they can click on a photo of what’s inspired them, learn more about it, and access recipes that highlight it at its peak. Along the way, Lui shares his discoveries and the occasional train wreck that has accompanied 844 (and counting) culinary adventures, including the seven varieties that were deemed unfit for human consumption by Lui’s wife Kim and young daughters Lina and Kira.