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February 2005: Publications

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Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasure in a Global Supermarket by Brian Halweil (Worldwatch/WW Norton Co., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10110; 2004; $13.95) is an excellent book that we highly recommend. The author is thoroughly acquainted with and acknowledges the power of the globalized food system. However, the main thrust of his book describes the multitude of ways in which people are reclaiming that power and are working to re-establish local food systems. Halweil's examples are inspiring. He tells of a fast food restaurant chain in Vancouver, Washington that uses only food from local farmers and serves unique milkshakes flavored seasonally with local fruits and nuts. He interviews the owner of the Centerville Farmers Market in Lincoln, Nebraska, a grocery store that carries only locally grown and locally processed products. It is struggling to build up stock and compete with the local Wal-Mart, but in the process has helped local farmers stay viable. In Kenya the Association for Better Land Husbandry started off by teaching farmers Biointensive farming. It now also coordinates farmers' cooperatives so that the farmers can benefit from the increased profits of marketing and distribution. The coop has established its own brand-name labels, which are successfully competing with global products.
One of the most moving examples is of Halweil's own home area: East Long Island. He briefly relates its history of farming and fishing, then tells of how many former farms are now growing mansions, including "the largest single-family home in America.that features 43 bathrooms."(!) But even there, efforts are being made to hold on to what still remains and to support and attract interest to local food.
This book should prove an inspiration to others who sometimes feel alone and discouraged in their efforts to increase local food security in the midst of an entrenched globalized system. Halweil's message is that it won't be easy but that there are many people around the world working to make this happen and that the number involved is growing.

Soil Organic Matter in Sustainable Agriculture, edited by Fred Magdoff and Ray R. Weil (CRC Press; 2004; $89.95), is a collection of scientific articles edited by two excellent soil specialists, on the role that different forms of soil organic matter (SOM) play in the health of soils. Various authors explore the beneficial effects of SOM and the practices that enhance it, an area Ecology Action is very interested in.

Earthworm Ecology, second edition, edited by Clive A. Edwards (CRC Press; 2004), is a must read for any serious oligochaetology enthusiast who wants an overview of earthworms and their role as a biological blender. Supported by years of research from a wide range of international experts, the book explores the many industrial sectors that have benefited from the rapid growth of vermiculture. While the earthworm is better known for its role in increasing soil porosity, aeration, drainage and water infiltration, the book also documents the earthworm's less obvious relationship with plants in facilitating nutrient absorption, increasing germination rate, rebalancing C:N ratios, adjusting pH levels, and reducing plant diseases and pest problems. Although the book's main focus is on the benefits of vermicomposting, it also tackles the topics of taxonomy and the earthworm's emerging role as a possible answer in solving the urban waste management dilemma plaguing cities worldwide.
-Reviewed by Jean Gautier
It should be noted that Ecology Action is concerned that the use of too much vermicomposting may be a challenge; more carbon is lost in the vermiculture process than in the crop materials composting process and many of the nutrients become too available-rather than more stable and slow-releasing as in the crop compost process.

Raw: The Uncook Book: New Vegetarian Food for Life by Juliano Brotman (Harper Collins; 1999; $35) After you try out some of these recipes, cooking will never be the same, and your body will thank you for it! This book doesn't ask you to compromise taste for health. Instead it offers you a bounty of delicious, superior gourmet dishes that will enrich your body, mind and soul. The author is the chef who started the American raw food craze in San Francisco many years ago. He describes raw food as "living" food, since it comes directly from the earth and is eaten in its edible uncooked form. One of the first surprises the uninitiated raw cook will experience is the range of produce and ingredients that can actually be eaten in their raw form, without having to sacrifice any of their essential nutrients to traditional cooking methods. By using a blender, food processor, juicer or dehydrator, you can produce gourmet vegan meatloaf, pot pies, pizzas, cheeses, cookies, breads, cakes and ice cream, to name just a few recipes. Although the ingredient list in some recipes may seem a little lengthy for a raw cookbook and a challenge to gather for some non-vegetarians, most will eventually become part of the pantry for anyone who is serious about improving their eating habits and overall health. Bon appetit!
-Reviewed by Jean Gauthier

Eating to Save the Earth by Linda Riebel and Ken Jacobsen (Celestial Arts; 2002; $ 9.95). This is a great book for those people who wish to reduce their ecological footprint through their diet. Guiding the reader through easy and healthful alternatives, it explains how to reduce waste, conserve water and use less energy in preparing meals. Green solutions are offered for the home in the form of composting, cleaning and recycling, while suggestions are also given on maintaining a healthy diet away from home, at work and in restaurants. By the end, the authors' intention is to help the reader realize that what is "truly" good for us is also good for the planet.
-Reviewed by Jean Gauthier

The Raw Truth by Jeremy Safron (Celestial Arts; 2003; $ 18.95). The author, the founder of Raw Experience restaurants, provides the reader with a list of wonderful recipes, suitable for both raw and non-raw foodists, that are easy to prepare due to the limited number of required ingredients. For those wishing to retain the maximum nutritional benefit from their food, the recipes often include processes such as sprouting or fermentation. One of the reviewer's favorite parts of this book is an extensive glossary which lists and defines anything "healthy" that you might possibly want to put into a recipe, including varieties of sea vegetables, mushrooms and edible flowers. So start eating your pansies.
-Reviewed by Jean Gauthier

The November 2004 issue of Agroforestry News, a quarterly publication of the Agroforestry Research Trust in the U.K. (available through The Permaculture Activist, P.O. Box 1209, Black Mountain NC 28711), contained articles on the blueberry family, using nitrogen-fixing shrubs in nut orchards and a 10-page compendium of all known trees for temperate or continental climates which have edible fleshy fruits. Shrubs will be covered in later issues.

September 2004-September 2005 Catalog of Plants, Seeds, Books and Sundries from the Agroforestry Research Trust (46 Hunters Moon, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT, UK; website lists a seed range "of nearly 450 species.from easy-to grow herb perennials to trees and shrubs which can be grown with a little care and attention." Its publications include "new books on fruits, nuts and unusual vegetables, as well as the best books on agroforestry and unusual plants to be found."

A Catalog of Books 2004 from Shelter Publications (P.O. Box 279, Bolinas CA 94924; (800) 307-0131;, a small company with a small but interesting list of books they have produced. This includes Shelter, first published in 1973, "a record of the countercultural builders of the '60's, but also of buildings all over the world." The recently published Homework is a sequel to Shelter. The catalog also includes fitness books, some of which have been updated, as well as a small, miscellaneous assortment of books on other subjects.

The Brick Oven Bakers Conference was held at the Headlands Center for the Arts near Sausalito, California, in November 2004. For details, check OvenCrafters at or (415) 663-9010.



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