Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Two statistics you must stop repeating!

1) “People only use 10% of their brain’s capacity.” Wrong. A goofy idea instigated by third-rate (in critical thinking terms, even though in some respects cutting edge technically speaking) turn-of-the-century research. They opened some folks’s skulls, zapped different places with an electrode, and asked the subject what happened. 90% of the zaps resulted in no perceived reaction. They concluded, with the Ancient Egyptians, that this gray matter must therefore be used as mere filler. So lame! [Addendum: apparently the source of the myth is not certain, but the fact of the myth is. See Snopes article.] 2) “The average piece of food in America travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.” Possibly true, but consistently quoted out of context. The study that this is based on was done for food consumed in (or near, I forget) Chicago. Not for the country as a whole. It is possible that Chicago provides an accurate approximation of the national average, but there’s no good reason to expect this to be true. I wouldn’t be surprised if the real number is significantly lower, or (more likely, to my gut instinct) quite a bit higher. Plus, the study was done a few years ago. International trade in food has only increased. Grapes from South Africa. Bell peppers from Israel. Them’s far away places. [Addendum: I’ve just done some quick Googling, cuz I wanted to see if I could find the source of the food mileage estimate. Turns out that there’s more than one source (shocking!) since a few different people have studied it over the years, but none that I saw was very recent. So anyway, this is a question that deserves a good, up-to-date, and thorough study. Any graduate students out there in search of a topic?]


Born on Third Base: A Q&A with Author and Inequality Activist Chuck Collins

As inequality grabs headlines, steals the show in presidential debates, and drives deep divides between the haves and have nots in America, class war brews. Does it have to be this way?Can we suspend both class wars long enough to consider a new way forward? Is it really good for anyone that most of society’s […] Read More

Three Principles to Survive the Future

What guiding principles will you need to not just survive the future, but imagine a better one? Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That hardback consists of four hundred and four interlinked dictionary entries, […] Read More

The 5 Rules of Lean Thinking

Are you ready to co-create the future? These 5 Rules of Lean Thinking are a useful tool as we set out to collectively invent a post-market future.Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That […] Read More

Sow Seeds: Stop Walking Around Doing Nothing

“In the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.”That’s one of the key takeaways in award-winning author and activist Janisse Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. In her book, Ray […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture […] Read More
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