Friday, June 12, 2009

Crisis and Opportunity

I'm going to be upfront about this and say that this is the ABSOLUTE BEST non-fiction book I have EVER read. EVER. I'm completely serious. Think about what Michael Pollan is to the food movement - then put him on steroids. THAT is what John Ikerd is to the sustainable agriculture movement.

Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture is a series of inspirational essays by John Ikerd, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri. From the very first paragraph, I was drawn to his words, thinking as I read each word, "Yes, that's it exactly. I just couldn't put it into words myself."

Ikerd, while taking a look at the large-scale, big-picture crisis of American agriculture, takes an entirely different approach than contemporary eco-authors. Rather than addressing the culprits in the big picture (business, government, etc), he challenges each and every one of us to make change happen.
A farmer can make a difference in the land on his or her farm and in the land of others downstream. A farmer can make the difference in the lives of his or her customers and neighbors. We can all have an influence on the other people in our families, in our places of work, or in our communities. As we change our own lives in positive ways, we begin to influence those who share our little piece of the world. One by one, as we influence our little pieces of the world, the world begins to change.
Ikerd calls upon us to use common sense instead of relying strictly on impersonal technology. He calls us to do what is right, instead of what will make us the most money. Although making money (being economically viable) is certainly part of sustainability, our current industrial model focuses only on this component - consuming more for less. But the future, the sustainable model focuses on physical, mental, AND spiritual components, giving us a balance by being not only economically viable, but also ecologically sound and socially responsible.

Honestly, I've never read a book so full of inspiration, insight and hope. This isn't just a "must read." Crisis and Opportunity is a handbook for daily living and the beautiful awakening to a bright, new future.
Recommended: To anyone who lives and breathes.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

6 comments:

Farmer's Daughter said...

Okay, I'm adding this to my list of summer reading.

JAM said...

I've just requested it too. I feel so weary and tired, and like my choices are only making life harder for me and my family, and not doing any good, that I need something uplifting. Probably just 4 days of rain, nearing the end of a long school year, and way too many summer plans in the works, but I sure feel discouraged.

SusanB said...

Wow, that's a review. On my list now too, but I probably won't get to it until fall. Thanks.

kale for sale said...

Wow! That's the most enthusiastic review ever and impossible to resist. I love Michael Pollan (who happens to be all over the news right now with the opening of Food Inc.) so will of course pick up this book - Michael Pollan on steroids. That's a great line. Thanks for the review.

Green Bean said...

Woot!! I'm totally reserving this at the library now. Thanks for the review.

Heather @ SGF said...

Farmer's Daughter - Hope you love it as much as I did. Now I kicking myself for not attending the talk he did here...

JAM - Sorry to hear you're down. It's so easy to get overwhelmed. Perhaps this is just what you need. I felt so empowered reading it.

SusanB - I know what you mean. I have probably 30 books on my read list. So many wonderful things to read...

Kale for Sale - That's exactly what it seemed to me though. A super revved Pollan. One of my favorite quotes from the book was "Harmony comes only from changing our actions to conform to the higher order. A life of peace and happiness is the result." -- the "higher order" being living in tune with the world around us rather in defiance of it.

Green Bean - Anytime. I hope you enjoy it too!