My most recent discovery over the past couple months has been free audiobooks via the public library system, what a find! Just by having a library card you can download an app called OverDrive you can check out audiobooks for a couple weeks right from you phone. With all the long drives they are a life saver. I’ve always been hesitant to drop $15 per book on Audible, and this way I can binge listen to some really interesting books guilt free. Since downloading the app about 2 months ago have gotten through 15 audiobooks so far. Below is a short but growing book list I’d recommend in relation to food, gardening, and growing. (not all of them are audiobooks)
Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin is probably my favorite because of its difference in perspective. Joel is a country farmer who just happens to do things the right way in touch with the natural processes of the land. He runs Polyface Farm combining natural systems of cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables in a no-nonsense kind of way. No room for liberal greenwashing here. What’s best here is Joel is running a farm at scale competing with mega farms, and doing it the right way.
Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World by Catherine Tumber highlights how smaller cities can be in a prime position to function at a smaller scale incorporating farming. Specifically the cities of Worcester, Syracuse, and Rochester were highlighted which a majority of the projects my company works on are located. Interesting to see in context how helping projects become more energy efficient can help these cities on a more sustainable pathway.
The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollen is a class in the local sustainable food movement, by chronicling some of the issues with the industrial food system highly dependent on fossil fuels. Ideals such as cooking your own meals, family style dining, savoring and enjoying food, knowing where you food comes from, and growing your own food are put in context. The example of beyond organic was, go figure, a tour of Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm.
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibbon starts off with a reality check that the changes associated with earths temperature rise are already happening at scale, melting ice caps, increased weather events like hurricanes and floods. Along with needing global policy changes to shift from oil, Bill argues for local diverse and disconnected systems with local food and capitalizing on the internets connectivity to connect.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen is another good one focused on the individual eating habit. Something I wouldn’t have quite considered before reading these selections of books is that cows and other herbivores plan a critical role in soil building, and healthy landscapes. Supporting grass fed (and grass finished) beef can not only help restore the land and soils, but be healthy for you and be rich in nutrients. The ideal of eating only plants helping preserve the plant just doesn’t seem to jive when looking at a systems perspective. Diversity in key. The main tenant of the book; Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Along with these books there have been other influential voices I listen to regularly. Permaculture Voices Podcast by Diego Footer chronicles small scale farmers, local farms, and permaculturists trying to get by. There are so many episodes and podcasts to follow it is easy to throw on an episode while harvesting berries and lose and hour easily and happily.
Curtis Stone is in Vancouver and runs the The Urban Farmer podcast, video blog, book, and others. We heard Curtis speak in Boston at the urban farming conference at the start of 2017 and his small acreage lots in the city of Vancouver are the exact same size and scale of which we have here, so it offering great inspiration to what we could eventually become.
Hopefully some of these readings can provide some context to what Jenny and I are contemplating and working on currently. Any recommendations would be great!