Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*       = Good, with reservations


****From the Good Earth

A Celebration of Growing Food Around the World

by Michael Ableman

Reviewed May 25, 2002.
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1993.  168 pages.  Available at Sembach Library (630 ABL).

Wow.  This is a beautifully photographed coffee table book that delivers a hard-hitting message about caring for the environment.

I found this book deep in the stacks, buried in the cookbook section and rarely checked out.  I’m glad I followed my impulse to take it home, because I found hidden treasure.

The author is a farmer and a photographer.  He tends a farm planted in the middle of a suburban neighborhood and delights in working close to nature, without chemicals and pesticides.  To make this book, he travelled all over the world, photographing farmers who work the land in sustainable ways that don’t deplete the soil.

I had already learned from Barbara Kingsolver that we are losing the genetic diversity of our food supply as big seed and chemical companies convince people to give up the seed strains of their ancestors and use the new, temporary-high-growth products they peddle.  She explained that the new single-strain seeds have not built up resistance to native pests and disasters.  The idea even ties in with the books I have read on the Irish Potato Famine, as the reliance on one strain of potatoes caused such widespread difficulties.

Michael Ableman goes even further into depth about farming practices.  He explains, and shows, why “modern” farming methods deplete the land and trade away our future.  However, that is only one chapter of the book.  Most of the book focuses on hope, highlighting people and places where food is grown in abundance and the land is renewed, with soil getting richer every year.

This is a fascinating book for the mind, but also a work of art for the eyes.  He’s convinced me to try to make a trip to the local farmer’s market next weekend!

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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