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February 2007: Publications

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Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and your Neighborhood into a Community by H.C. Flores (Chelsea Green; 2006; $25) was written by a woman who describes herself as a “radical activist.” By working with Food not Bombs—an organization which cooks and serves vegetarian meals to the public using ingredients that would have gone into the waste stream—she discovers a positive way to change things, rather than just stopping them. She notes: “Growing food is one of the most radical things you can do. Those who control our food control our lives.” Flores started to find a wide diversity of other things in the waste stream and began to teach other people how to find these resources. This book is based on her discoveries and her teaching. It all starts with gardening and Flores provides information for that endeavor. But this beginning expands to encompass subjects such as water harvesting, our ecological footprint, alternate transportation and cooking methods and connecting with the Earth and your community.

Terra Madre: 1,600 Food Communities (Slow Food Editore, Via della Mendicita Istuita 14-45, 12042Bra [Cuneo] Italy;;; 2006; Euro 21.50) was printed for the second Terra Madre world food gathering in Turin, Italy, in October 2006. The book lists a network of 1,600 food-production communities around the world. “It is they … the repositories of farming and fishing techniques in harmony with the environment, of breeding systems respectful of animal well being, and slow, complex processing methods that permit the production of bread, cured meats, cheeses, cakes and biscuits that are excellent, unique and unrepeatable.” 300 of the communities are presidia, projects launched by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity to support small producers and products in danger of extinction. As the birthplace of the Slow Food Movement, it is not surprising that Italy is represented by almost 200 pages, all of which are presidia. But the book also provides glimpses of efforts around the rest of the globe to protect traditional food diversity by creating unique food products. These glimpses, along with photos, remind us of the beauty and diversity of the world and its inhabitants. Contact numbers for all the communities provide a possibility for further networking.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (The Penguin Press, 375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014; 2006; $26.95) is excellent reading and learning. The author pursues four different types of meals for himself: industrial, big organic, grassfed and hunted. He shares with us all he learns along the way as well as his own musings about the realities and ethics of each meal. Because Pollan is a “hands-on” kind of author, he begins his search into his industrial meal—which will be from McDonalds—at a corn farm. Corn not only feeds the cow that will be slaughtered for his hamburger, but is found in almost all the other ingredients in that meal. When eating from big organic, Pollan questions whether “free range” chickens are actually such. He also ponders the fuel required to grow, harvest, transport, process and refrigerate the organic ingredients and then divert their packaging into the waste stream. For his third meal, Pollan spends a week with a grass farmer, making hay and helping with other farm chores, including slaughtering chickens. The farmer is shown to be a home-grown scientist—an expert on combining the needs of grass with the needs of cows and chickens. For his fourth meal, Pollan not only has to learn how to hunt and kill an animal and recognize edible mushrooms, but find people who will teach him these things. It is a long, complex and fascinating process he takes us through, followed by the meal he constructs himself.

This book gives the reader an in-depth tour through many aspects of our current food system—the main one that dominates globally and another, more humane, just and healthy, that is striving for rebirth. We also get a sense of the book’s author as a person of integrity—one who “walks his talk.” Highly recommended.


Healthy Crops: A New Agricultural Revolution by Francis Chaboussou, translated from the French (Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2004 ;available from Independent Publishers Group, 814 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610; (312) 337-0747; $25.45 incl. shipping), presents the Theory of Trophobiosis, formulated by this researcher, who died in 1987. His theory disputes those of “resistance” and “proliferation” as applied to pests and diseases in plants. Rather, he asserts that nutrition drives this relationship. He proposes that as protein synthesis in plants is slowed down, soluble solutions build up, providing food for pests and diseases. He asserts that the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, etc., slow down the process of protein synthesis, making plants vulnerable to attack. Chaboussou has reviewed an amazing number of scientific studies, from which he draws his conclusions. These appear in a bibliography as well as throughout the text. Most of the book would probably be best understood by a plant scientist. But a layman wanting to know more about the theory can find it presented in a simpler way in the Commentary, Preface, and Introduction, as well as in “conclusion” sections of some of the chapters. This book and its theory certainly deserve serious consideration.


The following are books we have received but have not had time to review:

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green; 2003; $25)



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