This Organic Life
By Joan Dye Gussow
Joan Dye Gussow is an extraordinarily ordinary woman. She lives in a home not unlike the average home in a neighborhood that is, more or less, typically suburban. What sets her apart from the rest of us is that she thinks more deeply--and in more eloquent detail--about food. In sharing her ponderings, she sets a delightful example for those of us who seek the healthiest, most pleasurable lifestyle within an environment determined to propel us in the opposite direction. Joan is a suburbanite with a green thumb, with a feisty, defiant spirit and a relentlessly positive outlook.
At the heart of This Organic Life is the premise that locally grown food eaten in season makes sense economically, ecologically, and gastronomically. Transporting produce to New York from California--not to mention Central and South America, Australia, or Europe--consumes more energy in transit than it yields in calories. (It costs 435 fossil fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York.) Add in the deleterious effects of agribusiness, such as the endless cycle of pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizers; the loss of topsoil from erosion of over-tilled croplands; depleted aquifers and soil salinization from over-irrigation; and the arguments in favor of "this organic life" become overwhelmingly convincing.
Joan's story is funny and fiery as she points out the absurdities we have unthinkingly come to accept. You won't find an electric can opener in this woman's house. In fact, you probably won't find many cans, as Joan has discovered ways to nourish herself, literally and spiritually, from her own backyard. If you are looking for a tale of courage and independence in a setting that is entirely familiar, read her story.
Available in: Paperback, eBook
A Cafecito Story / El cuento del cafecito
By Julia Alvarez and Bill Eichner and Belkis Ramirez
A Cafecito Story is a story of love, coffee, birds and hope. It is a beautifully written eco-fable by best-selling author Julia Alvarez. Based on her and her husband's experiences trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story shows how the return to the traditional methods of shade-grown coffee can rehabilitate and rejuvenate the landscape and human culture, while at the same time preserving vital winter habitat for threatened songbirds.
Not a political or environmental polemic, A Cafecito Story is instead a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez's deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.
Available in: Paperback
Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties
By Carol Deppe
All gardeners and farmers should be plant breeders, says author Carol Deppe. Developing new vegetable varieties doesn't require a specialized education, a lot of land, or even a lot of time. It can be done on any scale. It's enjoyable. It's deeply rewarding. You can get useful new varieties much faster than you might suppose. And you can eat your mistakes.
Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:
In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to "take back their seeds." They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.
By Gene Logsdon
Here we go. Gene "The Contrary Farmer" Logsdon has taken on some controversial subjects in his time, but this time he has bitten off ("sipped on" doesn't sound right) a topic bound to raise strong feelings on both sides of society's moral boundary lines. His subject is alcohol and its traditional role on the family homestead. Not surprisingly, Gene speaks the bare-naked truth, and finds a lot more good than bad to say about booze.
Alcohol has historically played a significant role in agricultural life. In colonial times it was the most "liquid" alternative to hard currency as a means of exchange. Alcohol was the most reliable, safest, and most convenient way to store the grain harvest, and was an integral commodity on nearly every farmstead. Because it was so valued--does this surprise us?--the government muscled in, looking for its own piece of the action. George Washington was the first of many politicians to regulate alcohol as a means to generate revenues and gain political control.
Good Spirits is a rare and brave revisionist view of history. Logsdon is a master at exposing the absurdity of the commonplace. Does it really make sense that the government can make it illegal for us to combine common substances (grain, water, and yeast) on our own property? Can it be true that every war effort in the nation's history has been fueled literally and figuratively by alcohol and the tax revenues it produces? Why must the farmer fund the government that oppresses him?
In between good-natured tirades, Logsdon makes sure the reader learns some valuable lessons. He tells us how to make beer; he teaches the rudiments of distilling; he interviews Booker Noe (patron of America's First Family of bourbon) to tell us how to sip and tell; and he adds lively tales from alcohol's quasi-legitimate past. This is vintage Contrary Farmer: 100-proof, single-barrel select. Good Spirits is outrageous, entertaining, enlightening, and an eye-poppingly interesting, natural and holistic look at the role of alcohol. You will savor this book like a snifter of Calvados, the double-distilled apple brandy of Normandy that evaporates on the tongue like a heavenly ambrosia. Heady stuff, but delicious when consumed in moderation.
The Maple Sugar Book
By Helen Nearing and Scott Nearing
A half-century ago, the world was trying to heal the wounds of global war. People were rushing to make up for lost time, grasping for material wealth. This was the era of "total electric living," a phrase beamed into living rooms by General Electric spokesman Ronald Reagan. Environmental awareness was barely a gleam in the eye of even Rachel Carson.
And yet, Helen and Scott Nearing were on a totally different path, having left the city for the country, eschewing materialistic society in a quest for the self-sufficiency they deemed "the Good Life." Chelsea Green is pleased to honor their example by publishing a new edition of The Maple Sugar Book, complete with a new section of never-before-published photos of the Nearings working on the sugaring operation, and an essay by Greg Joly relating the story behind the book and placing the Nearings' work in the context of their neighborhood and today's maple industry.
Maple sugaring was an important source of cash for the Nearings, as it continues to be for many New England farmers today. This book is filled with a history of sugaring from Native American to modern times, with practical tips on how to sap trees, process sap, and market syrup. In an age of microchips and software that are obsolete before you can install them, maple sugaring is a process that's stood the test of time. Fifty years after its original publication in 1950, The Maple Sugar Book is as relevant as ever to the homestead or small-scale commercial practitioner.
The Bread Builders
By Alan Scott and Daniel Wing
Creating the perfect loaf of bread--a challenge that has captivated bakers for centuries--is now the rage in the hippees places, from Waitsfield, Vermont, to Point Reyes Station, California. Like the new generation of beer drinkers who consciously seek out distinctive craft-brewed beers, many people find that their palates have been reawakened and re-educated by the taste of locally baked, whole-grain breads. Today's village bakers are finding an important new role--linking tradition with a sophisticated new understanding of natural levens, baking science and oven construction.
Daniel Wing, a lover of all things artisinal, had long enjoyed baking his own sourdough bread. His quest for the perfect loaf began with serious study of the history and chemistry of bread baking, and eventually led to an apprenticeship with Alan Scott, the most influential builder of masonry ovens in America.
Alan and Daniel have teamed up to write this thoughtful, entertaining, and authoritative book that shows you how to bake superb healthful bread and build your own masonry oven. The authors profile more than a dozen small-scale bakers around the U.S. whose practices embody the holistic principles of community-oriented baking based on whole grains and natural leavens.
The Bread Builders will appeal to a broad range of readers, including:
Salad Bar Beef
By Joel Salatin
In a day when beef is assailed by many environmental organizations and lauded by fast-food chains, a new paradigm to bring reason to this confusion is in order. With farmers leaving the land in droves and plows poised to "reclaim" set-aside acres, it is time to offer an alternative that is both land and farmer friendly.
Beyond that, the salad bar beef production model offers hope to rural communities, to struggling row-crop farmers, and to frustrated beef eaters who do not want to encourage desertification, air and water pollution, environmental degradation and inhumane animal treatment. Because this is a program weighted toward creativity, management, entrepreneurism and observation, it breathes fresh air into farm economics.
Growing Great Garlic
By Ron L. Engeland
The first garlic book written specifically for organic gardeners and small-scale farmers
Growing Great Garlic is the definitive grower's guide written by a small scale farmer who makes his living growing over 200 strains of garlic. Commercial growers will want to consult this book regularly.
The author tells us:
Growing Great Garlic makes a genuine contribution in the field of garlic classification that will help the public recognize several distinct varietal types of garlic.
Simple Food for the Good Life
By Helen Nearing
Fifty years before the phrase "simple living" became fashionable, Helen and Scott Nearing were living their celebrated "Good Life" on homesteads first in Vermont, then in Maine. All the way to their ninth decades, the Nearings grew their own food, built their own buildings, and fought an eloquent combat against the silliness of America's infatuation with consumer goods and refined foods. They also wrote or co-wrote more than thirty books, many of which are now being brought back into print by the Good Life Center and Chelsea Green.
Simple Food for the Good Life is a jovial collection of "quips, quotes, and one-of-a-kind recipes meant to amuse and intrigue all of those who find themselves in the kitchen, willingly or otherwise." Recipes such as Horse Chow, Scott's Emulsion, Crusty Carrot Croakers, Raw Beet Borscht, Creamy Blueberry Soup, and Super Salad for a Crowd should improve the mood as well as whet the appetite of any guest.
Here is an antidote for the whole foods enthusiast who is "fed up" with the anxieties and drudgeries of preparing fancy meals with stylish, expensive, hard-to-find ingredients. This celebration of salads, leftovers, raw foods, and homegrown fruits and vegetables takes the straightest imaginable route from their stem or vine to your table.
"The funniest, crankiest, most ambivalent cookbook you'll ever read," said Food & Wine magazine. "This is more than a mere cookbook," said Health Science magazine: "It belongs to the category of classics, destined to be remembered through the ages."
Among Helen Nearing's numerous books is Chelsea Green's Loving and Leaving the Good Life, a memoir of her fifty-year marriage to Scott Nearing and the story of Scott's deliberate death at the age of one hundred. Helen and Scott Nearing's final homestead in Harborside, Maine, has been established in perpetuity as an educational progam under the name of The Good Life Center.