Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I think this would be good for someone who is afraid of getting a depressing book on the environment. Although he does include related facts in little offset blurbs every few pages. I found them sort of annoying and wish they'd been worked into the text instead of just stuck in between different paragraphs.
I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to rely less on oil and I was hoping for a more serious book about what one person did. Instead it's a collection of mostly funny stories about setting up solar panels, biofuel, the hazards of coyotes on chickens, and how weeds can actually help a garden sometimes.
Thanks for letting us repost Maya! It is nice to bring different voices to The Blogging Bookworm.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The full title is Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth. Robbins, and yes the name rings a bell as he is the son of THE Robbins from Baskin and Robbins. He split from his family to live a simplistic lifestyle both in the acquisition of material goods and food selection. Much of his work is now considered a foundation for eco-conscious food decisions.
It is also interesting to note that this book predates much of our debate about climate change and the role of meat production and the implications of such on our global welfare. Robbins speaks of the environmental impact in that:
-Excessive amount of water is used in the production of meat
-The methane and by products of animal farming are of great detriment to our earth
-The sheer amount of food used to “raise” food is an incredible waste
Many of his conclusions laid a foundation for ideas that are firmly in the green conscious dialogue, but yet one of the first scathing looks at the business of food. The food impact, the health impact, and the environmental impact are realms that I feel Robbins really broke new ground and gave us a book that we can all read and digest.
I found Robbins’ discussion of food combinations and nutrition requirements extremely interesting. I didn’t agree with everything that he said, but he made a valid case for a dramatically different look at our nutritional requirements. He feels that we’re created this great big protein myth, when much of our nutrition requirements are easily obtained through food combinations, beans, leafy greens and more. I know, it seems pretty logical to most of us.
Robbins makes a gut wrenching case against our modern concept of animal farming. He exposes the inhumanity of standard practices such as chicken caging, animal prods and pig farms to name a few. The pictures are not for the faint of heart, but really and truly……I think it is something that we all need to look at. He discusses our meat packing practices, and the cruelty involved in getting the animals there. He takes us back into the thought that we aren’t just eating something nice and neatly wrapped in a styro dish, but we should realize exactly what it is and where it came from.
I first read Diet for a New America years ago when I was a veggie for six years, and then went vegan for two years. Years later I was off the wagon and eating meat far too regularly in my opinion, as part of the general suburban diet that I just became rather desensitized to. I wasn’t really considering the environmental impact, nor the impact to my health. When I started implementing a greener lifestyle I re-read Diet, and was rejuvenated in efforts to consider my impact in day-to-day choices. We’ve upped the veggies, given up beef and pork (except when my husband does the shopping), buy cage free organic eggs and have implemented a healthier diet for this American. I’m still not back to veggie, but I’d say we try to think much more wisely about our food and where it comes from.
It isn’t a nicely packaged “green read” book of modern day, (laugh that we think 1987 is old) but it lays a good foundation for understanding how “green” and “food” and “business” all intersect in our modern day. I’d recommend it with 4 out of 5 for light green readers. It’s a good start into better eating , and different choices.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Three Pandas Planting by Megan Halsey is a simple introduction to eco-conscious actions that will be appropriate for preschool and up. The clear illustrations feature animals engaged in a variety of activities including:
-Water conservation efforts
-Using recyclable batteries
The book is brilliant in that counting, animal and “Green” efforts all mesh together. Your little one will delight in the simple illustrations and light tone, and parents will enjoy seeing their eco efforts reinforced in literature.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I also didn't have a fancy picture like the rest of my team (wink) so I just picked one as my roundup logo. The trees were rustling, the wind was blowing, the crickets were singing and the sky was doing marvelous things. Rather screams that it may be a good picture for nature reads to me.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Divided into six parts (home, transportation, recycling, energy, garden & kitchen, and clothing & personal care products), "Living Like Ed" is a manual for making environmentally positive changes in how we live. It reads like an annotated "to-do" list. The ideas in it are great. He covers everything, and his wife adds interesting sidebar comments that give a different perspective. There are handy checklists in the back of the book to help you keep track of changes you have made and the results of those changes. It’s all good stuff.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
What about you? What are you reading? Any new bookworms out there? Any new reviews? Drop me a comment and I’ll add you in!
Friday, September 12, 2008
I nearly didn't go. The event was at lunch time, across Market Street, my shoes were uncomfortable. How interesting could tomatoes be? Ha! Amy Goldman is not a little gardener with a couple of pretty tomatoes. She's Chair of the Board of Seeds Savers, she trialed 1,000 varieties of tomatoes for her book in which she features her favorite 200. And if I understood her correctly she grew all 200 varieties in her garden. She's a heavyweight in the tomato world.
And a heavyweight in the seed world. She calls hybrids and GMO's, "tools of industry," and our ability to save seeds necessary for food security.
Amy Goldman described the taste of tomatoes like someone who knows their wine. She used words I've not associated with tomatoes. I want what she's having, I thought. And she's having some good looking tomatoes with snappy names: Bonny's Best, Reisetomate. Aunt Gerties was one of her favorites. There was White Beauty, Cassady's Folly. Radiator Charlies had a funny story. There were Roman Candles and German Pinks. Not any of which are likely to be found in a grocery store. These are not tools of industry. These are tomatoes to bring from the garden to the table as the title suggests.
The book is a display piece, glossy photos, recipes (that sound good), growing information. It was all I could do to leave without buying a copy. I still want it and I'm not a cookbook or coffee table kind of a girl. But I do like a good tomato and this book has a couple hundred to choose from.
"Keep them alive," she said. "Save the seeds." Check out the book and you'll likely be inspired too. I was.
As anyone else seen this book or heard of Amy Goldman? Are you growing tomatoes with names of old relatives or faraway places?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Seeds have fallen into the wrong hands, writes Claire Cummings in Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds.
What’s that again? You don’t think of seeds as something that would interest greedy multinational corporations, their armies of lawyers, and the U.S. government? Think twice. Seeds have always had a hand in destiny, since their genes direct how tall a plant grows, what kind of fruit it bears, and when it dies. A century ago humans began manipulating these genes to obtain better and hardier crops like hybrid corn.
Lately though genetic manipulation has taken a dark turn. Seed companies are deploying genetic modification to design novel plants to foster dependence on their products. Such altered seeds are known, of course, as GMOs. There’s Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn, a plant that isn’t affected by spraying with Roundup, Monsanto's best selling weed killer. And there are seeds with so-called terminator genes, whose plants grow sterile seeds, thus forcing farmers to purchase new seed every year.
Cummings reports on just how the US government has nurtured GMOs, issuing patents for individual genes and enabling multinationals to sue farmers wherever the modified genes appear in native crop populations – which can happen anytime wind carries pollen. Cummings tells how American food aid to impoverished countries not infrequently includes GMO wheat and corn seed rejected by North American growers. How the first provisional governor in Iraq, Paul Bremer, paved way for the entry of GMO seeds not long after Iraq’s seed bank was destroyed by American bombers.
This book is a wonky polemic, and Cummings takes the unrelenting position that GMOs are destroying civilization as we know it. Is she fair and balanced? I’m not convinced, in spite of Cummings’ credentials as a former USDA lawyer. Clearly there are downsides to GMOs and much that we just don’t know, both good reasons for caution. But consider a story like local do-gooder Bill Gates’ recent $17 million donation towards GMO sorghum for Africa, a food that was specifically engineered to be richer in vitamins A & E, amino acids, iron, and zinc. Is this just another boondoggle for agribusiness? Possibly, but since no one’s yet solved the most serious food problems of our time, I’m interested in hearing alternate perspectives on GMOs and those simply can’t be found in this book.
On a personal note, I picked up Uncertain Peril not long after a friend gave me a dozen Romano bean seeds, which she’d received from a dying eighty-nine year old neighbor who grew them all his life. He in turn had gotten them from his childhood pals, Italian immigrants whose families had grown the beans organically for hundreds of years.
So I read Cummings’ book while sprouting my friend’s Romanos and I got inspired, even if her punchline is sort of predictable – that organic growing can redeem us. I’ll be saving Romano seed this fall and want to try exchanging mine with others who save, if I can get viable stock. Because the alternative is a multinational corporation telling me what to eat. No thanks.
4 of 5 stars
Sunday, September 7, 2008
But I have picked up a couple new books.
The first is The Unsettling of America, Culture & Agriculture, by Wendell Berry. I've always been curious about Mr. Berry's writing but didn't know where to start until I heard this book recommended several times.
The second book my guy found at a garage sale we happened upon this morning. The book, Coming Home to Eat, The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods, by Gary Paul Nabhan, only cost a dollar! I love it without even turning a page.
Are there any other new books out there? Any new reviews? Any book news on your night stand, blog? Any book news on your mind? Let me know for links on the sidebar and let us all know for green information and inspiration.
In any event, be well and happy reading.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
It's the first week of September. The first week of fall, in my mind, even though that season doesn't officially start until we're nearly done with the month. But the kids are back in school. The nights creep in a bit quicker. And I'm busy reading.
Right now, I'm finishing Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. If ever there was a book that was non-fiction, a page turner AND an inspiration to change the world, this one is it. It is not especially green but it is especially motivating. When you journey with this man through the lonely wilds of Pakistan and see "what one person can do", you'll never again ask yourself if you, as individual, can make any meaningful changes in this world. Also, stay tuned this week for my reviews of The Big Green Purse by Diane MacEachern and See You in a Hundred Years by Logan Ward.
Enough about me! What about you? What are you reading? What are you reviewing?