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November 2006: Publications

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How to Live Well without Owning a Car by Chris Balish (Ten Speed Press; 2006; $12.95). The author, a successful journalist, became car-free accidentally. He had to find other ways to get around for a while and was amazed at the end of a month to find his bank account $800 richer. His book includes charts of the true cost of owning a car—which he states is twice as much as people think. He discusses alternative methods of transport like carpooling, bikes, mass transit, etc., and how to make the best use of each of them. Parts of the book can seem a bit repetitive, but this should be a good read for someone who has been completely dependent on a car and wants to start to consider other options.

Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature by Jules Pretty (Earthscan Publications, 120 Pentonville Road, London NI 9JN, UK;; 2002) presents the need for a sustainable agriculture, based on ecological principles and in harmony with people and their cultures. The author sets the background for this premise in a series of essays that show not only his wide grasp of the problems that have come with industrial agriculture, but his sensitivity to the need for a reconnection with the land and nature. Pretty’s book comes alive with exciting examples of people and communities that have made drastic changes in their own landscape and food production by actions based on awareness of ecological principles. There are many of these examples, and they come from a wide variety of places in the world. Although Pretty says they are currently in the minority, he sees them as holding promise for a more sustainable future.

The Eco-Foods Guide: What’s Good for the Earth is Good for You by Cynthia Barstow (New Society Publishers, P.O. Box 189, Gabriola Island BC V0R 1X0, Canada; 2002; $17.95). In this book’s first chapter, the author guides us on a trip through her supermarket and points out the difficulties of making choices to eat not only well but in an ecologically sound way. But ensuing chapters prove that this is much more than a shopper’s guide. It is instead an easy-to-read compendium of the world’s current food system, including a brief look at its various historical pathways. Barstow talks about the Green Revolution, GMOs, fair trade and free trade, pesticides, and processed foods among a myriad of other subjects. She then discusses buying local, CSAs, farmers markets and other types of alternative food options. This book will not necessarily make supermarket choices easier, but it will make them much more knowledgeable.

These two small books are part of the Tropical Agriculturist series (MacMillan Education Ltd, London; 1999). Both are written for extension workers and emphasize that techniques need to be built on methods farmers are already using:

Food Crops and Drought by John Ashley focuses on the semi-arid lands straddling the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Drought-tolerant crops are discussed, and a long chapter is devoted to various dryland watering methods. This latter is illustrated with many photos showing indigenous techniques for getting water to crops. The author’s introduction is a perceptive discussion of what creates dryland, population control, and climate change.

Alley Farming by B.T. Kang, A.N. Atta-krah and L. Reynolds discusses the type of farming which incorporates woody species into crops and is most productive in humid and sub-humid regions, particularly on sloping fields. This system can help maintain soil productivity, control erosion, sustain crop productivity and also supply food for animals and wood for multiple uses. Drawings explain how the system works, and photos illustrate its use in Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines. The types of soil found in humid and sub-humid regions are discussed, as well as woody species that are most appropriate for these areas.

Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (Timber Press, The Haseltine Building, 133 SW Second Avenue, Suite 450, Portland OR 97204-3527; 2006; $24.95). The authors are former suburban gardeners who automatically applied chemicals until becoming aware of the soil food web, its complexity, and how it was being damaged by these practices. The book shares the results of their subsequent study of the inhabitants of this web. Different players in the drama are described in interesting detail. The authors describe how soil organisms interact with each other to provide optimal conditions for plant growth. Carbon is the key, passing from one organism to another until released as nutrients that plants can absorb. The authors have devised 19 rules to guide gardeners in providing an environment beneficial to the soil food web and to its plants. Although comprehensive, the book is written in a conversational manner and is easy to read and understand.

Seeds: The Definitive Guide to Growing, History and Lore by Peter Loewer (Timber press; 2005; $17.95) appears to be written for those who want to learn a lot about seeds, rather than those who are anxious to go plant them. There is an amazing amount of information about seeds, their history, and the plants that grow from them. Plant biology and seed biology and chemistry are discussed as well as the great variety of methods of pollination and seed dispersal. Intricate drawings illustrate these chapters, giving the reader an appreciation for nature’s complexity and effectiveness. Seed companies and other resources are listed. Towards the end of the book a chapter is included that instructs gardeners on the best ways to use seeds.

Building with Cob: a step-by-step guide by Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce (Green Books Ltd, Foxhole, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EB, UK; 2006; $45) comes from England, where the heritage of building with cob goes back hundreds of years. The introduction emphasizes reconnecting with the earth and its cycles. Cob is seen as one of the ways of doing this: the use of simple materials to create shelter, while literally getting in touch with nature. Although this book has some wonderful photos of cob buildings from around the world, it is not about design, but technique. It is the most detailed book this reviewer has seen so far on this subject. It contains many “simple field tests” for determining the structure of the soil to be used. Ways to mix the cob are given thorough coverage, with many illustrations. The same is true for foundations and all the other building details. A chapter is devoted to restoring old cob buildings. This is an excellent book, one that should be in the library of all potential builders.

The Homemade Windmills of Nebraska by Erwin Hinckley Barbour was originally printed in 1899 and reprinted in 1976 by the Farallones Institute. It is the illustrations of this little book that could prove useful to people today who are looking for alternative energy sources. The book shows 11 types of windmill, and since they were handmade, their design might be reconstructed by someone with a good eye and hand and some mechanical ability.

Minerals for the Genetic Code  by Charles Walters
The author, an eco-agriculture authority known world-wide for being candid, states that this book is the most revolutionary and revealing of all the topics he has written about. While the title and the text might at times seem a bit heavy, the concepts and the applications are critical to our world health situation today. The author and Dr. Richard Olree challenge conventional farming practices, the conventional medical profession, and the pharmaceutical promoters. They concur: “In farming, as in human medicine, rescue chemistry appears to have gone out of control.”  The drugs used in human medicine are compared to the imbalanced chemical fertilizers and toxic rescue chemistry used in farming. 

Walters spends several chapters reviewing the detrimental effects of water fluoridation, the history and development of modern agriculture (which resulted in impartial and unbalanced fertilization and toxic rescue chemistry), and the errors in the development of Genetically Modified Organisms.  
But the crux of this book resides in the 25 years of research and insights of Dr. Richard Olree, a name to remember. As a sideline to his chiropractic profession in Hillman, Michigan, Olree has studied genetics, minerals, and the metabolic pathways in the human body. He sees the future of plant and human wellness to be embedded in understanding how broken genes—caused by radiation, toxicities, and deficiencies—are the root of essentially all diseases, and are fixable with proper mineralization of food-producing plants. Walters states: “Olree expects to revolutionize professionals’ understanding of DNA in relation to minerals, and to exhibit a seven-league stride forward in reclaiming for humanity the health profile endowed by the Creator.”  

If the genius of man is the ability to deal in depth and complexity, as well as to grasp the breadth and interrelationships of topics, Olree qualifies on all counts.  In addition to his profession as a chiropractor, he knows the details of the periodic table, the workings of the human body, the genetic code, mineral nutrition, computer capabilities, agriculture, and the medical literature.  Years ago his inquisitive mind asked a key question, “What in the world have minerals to do with genetics?”  It’s the question he still gets from college professors.  The difference is that Olree has figured out the answer. 
The key and genius in Olree’s work is that he developed a computer program that filtered through all the DNA sequences in the human genetic code and, based on protein analyses, determined the minerals needed and their relative frequencies. Along the way, he has made important connections between 64 elements in the periodic chart, the 64 pressure points in the spine, and the DNA sequences for any given human gene.  All of this is presented in what is known as the Olree Standard Chart.  With each of the 64 charts he also includes details of the function of minerals, the associated diseases when they are missing, and much more.  

To understand this book one needs some background in chemistry, genetics, chiropractic care, medicine, and agriculture.  That’s a tall order, but even without this background, the book yields great information for those who are working in the fields of agriculture and medicine. 
Reviewed by Calvin Bey

 Listed below are books which have come to us which we haven’t had time to review:

Landscaping Earth Ponds: The Complete Guide by Tim Matson (Chelsea Green; 2006; $30)

The Passive Solar House: Using Solar Design to Heat and Cool Your Home by James Kachadorian (Chelsea Green; 1997; $24.95)

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Vol. 1 by Brad Lancaster (Rainsource Press, 813 N. 9th Avenue, Tucson AZ 85705; 2006; $24.95)

Climate Change and Global Food Security, edited by Rattan Lal, Norman Uphoff, B.A. Stewart, David O. Hansen (CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, 6000 Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton FL 33487-2742; 2005)

Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems (CRC Press; 2006)

Freshwater Nematodes: Ecology and Taxonomy edited by Eyualem-Abebe (CABI Publishing, 875 Massachusetts Ave, 7th Floor, Cambridge MA 02139; 2006)

Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal & Other Woodland Medicinals by W. Scott Persons and Jeanine M. Davis (Bright Mountain Books, 206 Riva Ridge Drive, Fairview NC 28730; 2005; $25)

Saving Organic Rice edited by Alex Jack and Edward Esko (Amberwaves, P.O. Box 487, Becket MA 01223; 2001; $6.95)

The Woodland House by Ben Law (Permanent Publications, The Sustainability Centre, Eat Meon, Hampshire GU32 1HR England; 2005)



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