Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

BioCycle World reviews Holy Shit

Gene Logsdon’s Holy Shit garnered the following review in the September 2010 issue of BioCycle World – a publication dedicated to advanced composting, recycling, and renewable energy. 

Logsdon Shouts “Manure” From The Mountaintops
Contrary Farmer Gene Logsdon’s most-recent title Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind (Chelsea Green, 2010) may sound a bit irreverent at first blush, but nothing could be farther from the truth. With characteristic wit and humor, Logsdon draws extensively from his wide and varied background as a farmer, scholar of anthropology and archeology, agricultural journalist and longtime BioCycle contributor to make a solid case for not flushing and forgetting about one of the world’s most precious resources. “Most people, even farmers, do not have really good grasp of the food chain,” says Logsdon, whose book offers chapters on such varied but complementary topics as pitchforks and their proper use, maintaining and operating a small manure spreader, animal husbandry and manure management, recycling grey water for irrigation, and composting cat, dog and human waste.

“Nothing prepared me better for writing this book more than working for BioCycle,” says Logsdon. “Before that, I never thought about waste at all — most of us don’t.” Logsdon says what was initially planned as a small volume on handling barn manure soon took on a life of its own. “I realized all the stuff I learned at BioCycle fits into this book,” he adds. Logsdon, who grew up on a farm, contends that Western civilization is consumed with an unnatural paranoia about excrement and thus goes to great expense and folly to keep it out of site and out of mind. This includes expending an estimated 58,400 gallons of water a year per household to flush it away. Meanwhile, the author points out, synthetic fertilizer costs skyrocket while farms are left devoid of organic material and the beneficial microbiology — or as Logsdon put it, “livestock” — that comes with it.

Logsdon’s historical and personal anecdotes are equal parts entertaining and informative. For instance, the author informs us not far into Chapter 1 that once upon a time in China, “The polite thing to do after enjoying a meal at a friend’s house was to go to the bathroom before you departed. I am not making that up,” he promises. “Manure was treated like a precious gem because it was a precious gem.” When Logsdon reveals over polite dinner party conversation with some “Very Nice People” that he “manures” his garden ever year, the reader can almost hear the gentrified jaw drop.

No subject is taboo for Logsdon including his exploration of applying treated biosolids to agricultural lands. “Humans discharge from their bodies something approaching 50 million tons of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium per year,” he writes. “We’re talking $50 billion a year in biosolids fertilizer that we are mostly throwing away, after spending incalculable amounts of money to do the throwing.”

Whether you keep a couple of backyard chickens, run a small truck patch, operate a dairy or sometimes just get the urge to sit and think deeply about things, you will no doubt find many nuggets of wisdom between the covers of Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind.

Gene Logsdon is the author of Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind. Head over to our bookstore to learn more.

We are Farmily: Everyday Life on Sole Food Street Farm

Food is the medium. The message is nourishment in its most elemental and spiritual form.That’s how author Michael Ableman sees the role of Sole Food Street Farm and the food it sells to markets, restaurants, and individuals.In the following excerpt from his new book, Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier, […] Read More

Who Produces More Eggs: Ducks or Chickens?

During our monthlong focus on homesteading in September, we received a number of great questions with several of them centered on … ducks and chickens.Here is one such question that came in via Facebook:“I have read that ducks produce more eggs over a longer lifetime of productivity than chickens, but recently talked with a farmer […] Read More

From Farm-to-Table to Farm-to-Everything

No longer restricted to the elite segments of society, the farm-to-table movement now reaches a wide spectrum of Americans from hospital and office cafeterias to elementary schools and fast-casual restaurants.Nearly a century ago, the idea of “local food” would have seemed perplexing, since virtually all food was local. Today, most of the food consumed in […] Read More

The Three Cs of Farm-to-School

Most people know about the three “R’s” – reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, have you heard about the three “C’s”?If you, or your kid, is at a school that takes part in the Farm-to-School movement, then you may already know about them.October is National Farm-to-School month, and in their book Farm to Table, authors Darryl […] Read More

Homesteading: Highlighting Our Need For Each Other

Homesteading isn’t meant to be a solitary adventure, or done in isolation.Building and living on the independent farmstead takes at least one partner, if not several. That’s the advice of authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty. In their book The Independent Farmstead, The Sow’s Ear model for regenerating the land and growing food covers everything from […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By