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Dirt, soil, call it what you want--it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations "explores the compelling idea that we are--and have long been--using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, "Dirt "traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil--as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.
Henry's Farm, run by Henry Brockman, is in central Illinois — some of the richest farming land in the world. There, he and his family — five generations of farmers, including sister Terra, the author — have bucked the traditional agribusiness conventional wisdom by farming in a way that's sensible, sustainable, and focused on producing healthy, nutritious food in ways that doesn't despoil the land. Terra Brockman tells the story of her family and their life on the farm in the form of a year-long memoir (with recipes) that takes readers through each season of life on the farm. Studded with vignettes, digressions, photographs, family stories, and illustrations of the farm's vivid plant life, the book is a one-of-a-kind treasure that will appeal to readers of Michael Pollan, E. B. White, Gretel Ehrlich, and Sandra Steingraber.
By now most of us are aware of the threats looming in the food world. The best-selling "Fast Food Nation" and other recent books have alerted us to such dangers as genetically modified organisms, food-borne diseases, and industrial farming. Now it is time for answers, and "Slow Food Nation" steps up to the challenge. Here the charismatic leader of the Slow Food movement, Carlo Petrini, outlines many different routes by which we may take back control of our food. The three central principles of the Slow Food plan are these: food must be sustainably produced in ways that are sensitive to the environment, those who produce the food must be fairly treated, and the food must be healthful and delicious. In his travels around the world as ambassador for Slow Food, Petrini has witnessed firsthand the many ways that native peoples are feeding themselves without making use of the harmful methods of the industrial complex. He relates the wisdom to be gleaned from local cultures in such varied places as Mongolia, Chiapas, Sri Lanka, and Puglia. Amidst our crisis, it is critical that Americans look for insight from other cultures around the world and begin to build a new and better way of eating in our communities here.
Worldwide sales of organic products have expanded 10 to 20% per year for the past decade, increasing interest in organic farming as a profitable and more environmentally benign alternative to conventional production. To participate in the current food system, it is imperative that agronomists and horticulturists master the practices, systems design, certification process, and details of the organic farming sector. Combining farmer experience and wisdom with the best that science has to offer can help us better understand organic systems and how to design them to meet human needs and preserve an environment where we would like to live. This book represents a current look at what we know about organic farming practices and systems, primarily from the U.S. and Canadian perspectives. The discussion begins with history and certification, ecological knowledge as the foundation for sustaining food systems, and biodiversity. The next chapters address crop-animal systems; forages, grain, oil seed, and specialty crops; organic cropping and soil nutrient needs; and vegetation and pest management. Readers will next learn about marketing organics, organic foods and food security, and education and research. The book concludes with a survey of the future of organic farming and a perspective on the agricultural industry and the future of the rural sector.The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America are prominent international scientific societies headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. The Societies specialize in peer-reviewed, high-quality science titles for a wide variety of audiences.Some of the many areas we publish in include:-Soils Methods and Management-Crop Development and Improvement-Agrosystem Management and the Global Food Crisis-Environmental Conservation and Climatology