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Chelsea Green - The Politics and Practice of Sustainable Living. : Chelsea Green

Farm the Woods: Grow Food and Medicinals in Forests

September 18th, 2014 by admin

In the eyes of many people, the practices of forestry and farming are mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are reserved primarily for timber and firewood harvesting. In fact, history indicates that much of humanity lived and sustained itself from so-called “forest farming,” and only recently has the forest been traded for the field.

In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be an either-or scenario, but a complementary one; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. Forest farming is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

“That Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel believe people should be empowered in pursuits of integrated, multifunctional forest management is clear. As a result, the book is better positioned to positively impact forest owners, farmers, policy makers, and general readers alike,” writes John Munsell in the book’s foreword.

At your fingertips is a useful and inspirational forest farming guide,” Munsell adds.

Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests invites readers to view agriculture with a remarkably new perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other nontimber products. To get a sense of what useful information and resources the book offers, read a sample chapter — Food from the Forest: Fruits, Nuts, and More — below.

It’s common knowledge that many of the daily indulgences we take for granted, such as coffee, chocolate, and a variety of tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America. Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Readers are also provided comprehensive information on:

• historical perspectives of forest farming;

• mimicking the forest in a changing climate;

• cultivation of medicinal crops;

• cultivation of food crops;

• creating a forest nursery;

• harvesting and utilizing wood products;

• the role of animals in the forest farm; and,

• how to design and manage your forest farm once it’s established.

In addition, Farming the Woods includes profiles of forest farmers from around the country who are practicing many of the techniques detailed in the book.

“Forest farmers profiled in this book offer a vision for how more people can live—with and in the forest rather than outside it, as a foreigner who only visits from time to time. Human civilization is at a time when the decisions we need to make are unlike those any generation has had to make before,” write Mudge and Gabriel in the introduction. “With increasing inequality, the collapse of ecosystems around the world, and the uncertain effects of climate change, there is not a better time to consider farming the woods.”

Farming the Woods is now on sale for 35% off until September 24.

Farming the Woods – Sample from Chapter 4: Food from the Forest by Chelsea Green Publishing

Back to Basics with Fermentation

September 15th, 2014 by admin

For thousands of years, people have been using fermentation as a nourishing way to eat and preserve a variety of foods including vegetables, fruits, milk, grains, beans, meats, and more. Only in the last century has our culture distanced itself from this traditional approach to nutrition and adopted an industrialized food system complete with highly processed and genetically modified foods.

This month, we are celebrating Chelsea Green authors that are committed to bringing the nutrient-dense, traditional foods and preparation methods of our past back into the mainstream.

The fermentation revivalist himself, Sandor Katz, deserves to be recognized as one such revolutionary. Katz is the author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentationa New York Times Bestseller and the definitive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation.

His books have inspired a new generation of home fermenters—even author Michael Pollan caught the bug. “Sandor Katz writes about the transformative power of fermentation with such infectious enthusiasm that he makes you want to try things just to see what happens,” writes Pollan in his foreword to The Art of Fermentation.

With Katz’s simple, 4-step method to fermenting vegetables, attempting a homemade sauerkraut has never been easier. All it takes is Chop, Salt, Pack, and Wait. Check out the excerpt below for details.

And, here are some other books featured in our series on nourishing foods…
The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet by certified holistic health counselor Hilary Boynton and whole-foods advocate Mary G. Brackett – You’ll find additional info on this restorative diet and a sampling of appealing, family-friendly recipes here.

Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by chef and food activist Jessica Prentice – With recipes that display the richly satisfying flavors of foods tied to the ancient rhythm of the seasons, this book will resonate with anyone interested in traditional food philosophies like the Paleo diet, the Weston A. Price approach to nutrition, and, of course, fermentation.

Fermented Vegetables: The Basics

(The following excerpt from The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz has been adapted for the web)

The English language does not have its own word for fermented vegetables. It would not be inaccurate to describe fermented vegetables as “pickled,” but pickling covers much ground beyond fermentation.

Pickles are anything preserved by acidity. Most contemporary pickles are not fermented at all; instead they rely upon highly acidic vinegar (a product of fermentation), usually heated in order to sterilize vegetables, preserving them by destroying rather than cultivating microorganisms. “For pickles, fermentation was the primary means of preservation until the 1940s, when direct acidification and pasteurization of cucumber pickles was introduced,” writes Fred Breidt of the USDA.

My vegetable ferments are usually concoctions that do not fit any homogeneous traditional ideal of either German sauerkraut or Korean kimchi. But of course, everything I’ve learned about sauerkraut and kimchi reveal that neither of them constitutes a homogeneous tradition. They are highly varied, from regional specialties to family secrets. Nonetheless, certain techniques underlie both (and many other related) traditions, and my practice is a rather free-form application of these basic techniques rather than an attempt to reproduce any particular notion of authenticity.

In a nutshell, the steps I typically follow when I ferment vegetables are:

1. Chop or grate vegetables.

2. Lightly salt the chopped veggies (add more as necessary to taste), and pound or squeeze until moist; alternatively, soak the veggies in a brine solution for a few hours.

3. Pack the vegetables into a jar or other vessel, tightly, so that they are forced below the liquid. Add water, if necessary.

4. Wait, taste frequently, and enjoy!

Of course there is more information and nuance, but really, “Chop, Salt, Pack, Wait” is what most of it amounts to.

Photo: Sandor Katz illustration by Michael Tonn
Photo: Shredded vegetables in jar by Devitree

Over the Moon for Traditional, Nourishing Foods

September 11th, 2014 by admin

This month, we are highlighting Chelsea Green authors that are champions of locally grown, organic, nutrient-dense foods and traditional cooking methods.

Last week we featured certified holistic health counselor Hilary Boynton and whole-foods advocate Mary G. Brackett’s new book, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet. For more information on this restorative diet and a sampling of nourishing, family-friendly recipes, click here.

Up next in our series is Full Moon Feast by chef and food activist Jessica Prentice. This book follows the thirteen lunar cycles of an agrarian year, from the midwinter Hunger Moon to the autumn bounty of the Moon When Salmon Return to Earth. Each chapter includes recipes that display the richly satisfying flavors of foods tied to the ancient rhythm of the seasons. Full Moon Feast will resonate with anyone interested in traditional food philosophies like the Paleo diet, the health benefits of fermentation, and the Weston A. Price approach to nutrition.

Like The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, Full Moon Feast inspires a more restorative way of eating, one that calls for a holistic approach to where our food comes from and how we prepare it.

In honor of the current change in seasons, the following is an adaptation from Full Moon Feast, The Corn Moon. This lunar cycle falls in that magical time when summer transitions to autumn.

The Corn Moon

The ancient Celts and many Native American peoples called the lunar phase that fell on the cusp of summer and fall—when the grains were ripe in the field and ready to be harvested— the Corn Moon. But translating the Celtic moon name and the Native American moon names as the Corn Moon creates some confusion. Corn in North America and corn in Europe are two different things.

In the United States, the word corn refers the species Zea mays, the tasseled plant that produces cobs of kernels in earthy hues of yellow, white, blue, and red. In Northern Europe the Germanic word corn means simply “grain.” When Northern European colonists first encountered the plant Zea mays that had been cultivated and developed over many millennia by the indigenous peoples of this continent, they named it Indian corn, meaning Indian grain. Over the centuries the plant became known simply as corn in American English, while barley, wheat, rye, and other familiar cereal crops came to be referred to as grains. Early on, many colonial dishes that made use of Indian corn were given names like Indian pudding (a dessert made of cornmeal and sweetened with molasses) and rye’n’Injun bread, which was made of rye flour and cornmeal. In most other Englishspeaking countries, what we call corn here in America is called either maize or sweet corn, to distinguish it from grain.

For many of us who grew up in the United States, summertime evokes images of corn— the sweet, juicy variety that can be eaten right off the cob, dripping with butter, at a barbecue or a summer beach house. I can’t seem to get enough of it once the season starts. But while our associations conjure feelings of carefree, lazy days, for the peoples that called this the Corn Moon, corn was a serious affair.

Many American Indian moon names reflected what was happening in the cornfields. You can find a Planting Corn Moon, a Green Corn Moon, a Moon When Women Weed Corn, and a Moon When the Corn Is in Silk in various languages. For both American Indians and the Celts, this time of year heralded the ripening of grain. So while the Corn Moon of the Celts and the Corn Moon of indigenous peoples referred to slightly different harvests, they came down to the same thing: The Corn Moon meant survival and sustenance. It meant that the sacred, staple grain, the agricultural foundation of the community, would soon be ready for harvest. The crops ensured that there would be food to last through the winter. A year’s worth of planting and tending had been successful.

Suffer-free Succotash
Serves 3–4

The word succotash comes from a Narragansett word, m’sickquatash—with variants sukquttahash and msakwitash—which apparently meant “fragments” and referred to a stew of various ingredients, always including corn. This is my version.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry or fresh shelling beans, preferably white or pale green (lima beans, butter beans, or gigante beans are ideal)

1/2 dried ancho chile pepper (or other mild, dried chile), without stem or seeds

1/2 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard, tallow, or other traditional fat

1 medium leek or onion, chopped or diced

1 large (or 2 small) sweet pepper(s), red, orange, or yellow, diced (bell, gipsy, or other)

3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup raw cream or crème fraîche

1 or 2 scallions, minced

Procedure:
1. Reconstitute the ancho chile pepper in the boiling water by pouring the water over the chile in a bowl and letting it soak while you begin the recipe.
2. Heat a large skillet or shallow pan over medium high heat and add the butter or oil.
3. When the butter or oil are hot, add the onion or leek, and sauté for about two minutes.
4. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.
5. Lift the ancho chile out of the hot water and mince it small. Add the chile mince to the sauté and stir. Allow to cook for a minute or so, then add the chile soaking water to the sauté (strain out seeds).
6. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking water. Add the beans to the sauté and bring mixture to a simmer. Add bean cooking water as needed to keep the mixture wet and saucy.
7. After about 5-10 minutes, when the mixture is soft, add the corn kernels and cook for another minute or two to heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Remove from heat and stir in cream or crème fraiche.
9. Serve as a stew with chopped scallions on top, or as a side dish to fried chicken, pork chop, or other meat.

Take it Slow: 15 Life Lessons from a Unicyclist

September 10th, 2014 by admin

Have you ever wanted to slow down, let life’s winds wobble you, and devote yourself to the act of anticipation rather than immediacy? Simple. Learn how to ride a unicycle. Or, if that’s not your speed you could follow a few of author Mark Schimmoeller’s thoughtful, guiding principles.

Even for those of us who have never experienced the peculiar pleasure of seeing the world from atop a unicycle, Schimmoeller’s lessons are relatable and strike a deeply human chord. Take a read through his book, Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America, and you’ll see what we mean.

His memoir is about more than a cross-country trip on a unicycle; it’s a meditation on a way of life that Americans find increasingly rare: one that practices a playful, recalcitrant slowness.

Peppered throughout the book are what Schimmoeller considers his “guiding principles”—moments of often humorous, pithy advice on how unicycling is inherently connected with the nature of slowness and the art of getting there, no matter where “there” exists. Fifteen of these principles from Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America are listed below.

In Schimmoeller’s characteristically unassuming way, these best practices appear to be for fellow unicyclists, but truthfully he is reminding us that it isn’t the means of transportation that matters.

These ruminations on the importance of mindfulness end up speaking to each of us, if not as literal unicyclists, then as travelers traversing often rocky terrain without stopping to enjoy the view.

Could you benefit from taking a moment to slow down to a unicyclist’s pace? How many of the following guiding principles can you relate to? Share your favorite on Facebook or Twitter today using #slowspoke.

15 Life Lessons from a Unicyclist

(adapted from Slowspoke: A Unicyclists Guide to America by Mark Schimmoeller)

  1. Relax the emphasis on arrival.
  2. In squandering time you demonstrate its availability.
  3. Unicyclists must become devotees of anticipation.
  4. If you find yourself looking up at the sky instead of at the terrain in front of your wheel, it’s likely you have fallen.
  5. Don’t go on a straight road unless you can curb your desire to get someplace.
  6. Adventure begins only from a feeling of security.
  7. Motion without consideration of beginnings and endings can shelter a unicyclist from time and speed and progress.
  8. The art of unicycling is knowing, in part, when to give in to desire.
  9. It doesn’t make a difference one way or the other if a unicyclist takes a break.
  10. The act of falling partway plus corrections equals movement.
  11. The simple act of reducing your velocity…could eliminate a significant number of sharp turns in the world.
  12. It’s conceivable that someone could study wobbliness long enough to discover a corollary of strength.
  13. When it comes to attracting the opposite sex, don’t compete with bicyclists.
  14. There are limits, too, to slowness on a unicycle…The pace should inch just ahead of sorrow.
  15. A unicycle is who you are. For whatever reason, you are not any other form of transportation. You are a unicycle. Please love yourself.

Photo: Roger Cornfoot, Wikimedia Commons

The Morel of the Story? Think Like a Mushroom

September 9th, 2014 by admin

Calling all you fungi (and fun gals), it’s time to celebrate National Mushroom Month.

Our mycological-minded authors know more than a thing or two about the fascinating world of mushrooms—whether its foraging, cultivating, or concocting tasty recipes, we here at Chelsea Green have the books that are sure to answer your mushroom musings.

NEW Mushroom Books in 2014

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation - In this comprehensive mushroom guide, mycologist Tradd Cotter shares innovative new methods for urban and off-grid growing, making mushroom-infused beers, morel cultivation, and more. Hear from the author himself and get a taste of his infectious enthusiasm for fungi as he urges people to “think like a mushroom” during his interview on Radio Vermont’s Mark Johnson Show. And, check out Cotter’s wild and cultivated mushrooms in the slideshow of images at the end of this post.

Farming the Woods - This book by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel looks at agriculture from a completely new perspective—one that relies on forests for growing a wide range of food and medicinals, rather than open fields with straight rows of crops. Chapter 5 is all about mushrooms including stats on US production, cultivation tips, consumer demand, and species profiles. Here’s a preview of the foreword and introduction for Farming the Woods.

Chelsea Green Classics Featuring Mushroom Content

The Resilient Farm and Homestead - Ben Falk, award-winning author and expert permaculturalist, has written a manual for developing durable, beautiful, and highly functional human habitat systems fit to handle an age of rapid transition. Read what he has to say about the power of fungi and how, in addition to providing food and medicine, their existence makes ecosystems more resilient.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist – Think mushrooms and cocktails don’t mix? Think again. Michael Judd shares this recipe for a Maple Mushroom Martini featuring mushroom infused vodka.

Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares - This fascinating and fresh look at mushrooms—their natural history, their uses and abuses, their pleasures and dangers—is a splendid introduction to both fungi themselves and to our human fascination with them. Author Greg Marley sat down with us back in 2010 to talk about mushroom culture around the world and of course, his favorite edible mushroom.

And now, a slideshow of ‘shrooms…

Be Good to Your Gut: Nourishing Food for Better Health

September 5th, 2014 by admin

What do illnesses like autism, ADHD, asthma, celiac disease, allergies, and depression have in common? Simple: They can all be linked to the microorganisms present in your gut.

That’s according to the pioneering British MD, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who has found that these afflictions, as well as a long list of others, are linked—a concept she defines as GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome or Gut and Physiology Syndrome).

Problems originate with what we ingest, according to Campbell-McBride. “In our modern world where people are regularly taking antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs, where food is laced with chemicals alien to the human physiology, an increasing number of people have damaged, abnormal gut flora dominated by pathogenic microbes,” writes Campbell-McBride in the foreword of a new book on gut health, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook. “As a result, a person’s gut is unable to nourish the body properly; instead it produces large amounts of toxins that absorb into the bloodstream, get spread around the body, and cause disease.”

GAPS refers to disorders, including ADD/ADHD, autism, addictions, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, stemming from or exacerbated by leaky gut and dysbiosis. GAPS also includes chronic gut-related physical conditions, like celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type one, and Crohn’s disease, as well as asthma, eczema, allergies, thyroid disorders, and more.

How to Fix a Leaky Gut

So, what can you do if your gut has sprung a leak, so to speak?

For many people it means changing their diets – sometimes radically so – in order to replenish necessary bacteria and microbes. It means preparing nutrient-dense foods and taking a more holistic approach to the food that you put into your body, and the bodies of your loved ones.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing content from several Chelsea Green books that celebrate restorative ways of eating using nutritious, raw, organic, and seasonal foods, and ways to make and prepare your own food at home.

We start this week with The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet, written by certified holistic health counselor Hilary Boynton and whole-foods advocate Mary G. Brackett.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook follows the Weston A. Price philosophy that true health is achieved by reintroducing traditional nutrient-dense foods to our everyday meals.

What is the GAPS Diet?

The GAPS Diet is designed to restore the balance between beneficial and pathogenic intestinal bacteria and seal the gut through the elimination of grains, processed foods, and refined sugars and the carefully sequenced reintroduction of nutrient-dense foods, including bone broths, raw cultured dairy, certain fermented vegetables, organic pastured eggs, organ meats, and more.

Since much of the Standard American Diet is comprised of grains, processed foods and refined sugars, one can imagine how challenging this new way of eating may be at first. However, as author Alex Lewin points out, “Hilary Boynton’s and Mary Brackett’s new book makes GAPS accessible to a wide audience, both through its no-nonsense narrative and through its wealth of straightforward, delicious, and healthy recipes.

By reading this book, Lewin feels the intimidation factor towards the GAPS diet is significantly decreased. “It’s as if she is saying, ‘You are not alone. . . and here’s what we’re having for dinner.’”

For a taste of the more than 200 family-friendly, appealing recipes included in this cookbook, check out the below excerpt. You’ll find a hearty beef broth (essential to the GAPS Intro Diet), main entrees, veggie dishes and even ice cream.

Read the foreword for The Heal Your Gut Cookbook and try your hand at what it means to really cook from scratch with one of the following recipes.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook is on sale now for 35% off until Thursday September 11.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Sample Recipes

The Endless Arugula Bed

September 2nd, 2014 by admin

Want to save time and money while enjoying your greens as soon as possible in the spring? Consider extending your growing season by overwintering your crops—it’s both frugal and forward thinking.

Ben Falk, author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead, experimented with a bed of arugula by planting it in late September. Using a simple structure of quick hoops and greenhouse film to overwinter the crop, he was able to harvest the sweetest, most flavorful arugula he has ever tasted as early as mid-March!

Try producing your own endless bed of arugula, or experiment with another crop of your choosing, using these instructions from Falk’s book. If you do, you’re sure to have an ample supply of pesto in your future from your excess harvest.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

New Inspiring Books from our Publishing Partners

August 29th, 2014 by admin

From learning how to address personal, social, and environmental concerns in simple practical steps in our daily lives to building a low-impact roundhouse, we’re bringing a handful of new books to US readers for the first time.

At Chelsea Green Publishing, we partner with like-minded publishers and writers around the world to bring their books on sustainable living to a wider readership in the United States. Below is the latest selection of books available from one of our strongest publishing partners, Permanent Publications. They publish books that encourage people to live more healthy and resilient lives, as well as the internationally recognized magazine Permaculture: Practical Solutions for Self-Reliance which is read in 77 countries.

New Books from Permanent Publications:

Sacred Earth Celebrations explores the eight Celtic festivals, how they were celebrated and understood in the past, the underlying changing energy of the Earth, and the ways we may use this energy to create meaningful celebrations for today to deepen our connection to the Earth and our fellow human beings. It is an uplifting and inspiring source book for anyone seeking to celebrate and honor the changing rhythms and seasons of the Earth and her cycles.

Building a Low Impact Roundhouse is a captivating story of one of the UK’s most unique homes. Now in its third edition, Author Tony Wrench shares his many years of experience, skills, and techniques used to build this affordable low-impact home. He offers advice on roofs, floors, walls, compost toilets, wood stoves, kitchens, windows, and planning permission. Complete with color photographs of life in and around the dwelling, this is both an engaging story and a practical “how to” manual for anyone who loves the idea of low-impact living.

The Unselfish Spirit is an essential twenty-first-century guide to unlocking the secrets of how we as a race can collectively grow our consciousness to solve the complex web of challenges that threaten life on Earth. Author Mick Collins draws inspiration from such diverse fields as cosmology, new biology, and quantum physics, along with insights from depth psychology, occupational science, and mysticism. More than just a learned exploration about psycho-spiritual transformation, this book is a pathway to evolving entirely new ways of living creatively and harmoniously as a species.

7 Ways to Think Differently explores ways to address personal, social, and environmental concerns in simple practical steps in our daily lives, helping us to make incremental, achievable changes. As well as addressing our internal landscapes, author Looby Macnamara explains how individuals and communities can work together to achieve positive change. This book is for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world. It offers potent medicine for a world full of challenges. (this book is available September 24, 2014)

Make Your Own Fruit Wine

August 28th, 2014 by admin

Have an excess harvest of a favorite fruit that you don’t know what to do with? Look no further—making your own fruit wine is easy, safe, and it’s as delicious as homemade pie or jam without the expiration date!

All you need is an abundance of the fruit of your choosing, orange juice, wine yeast, sugar, and patience. When it comes to flavors, the sky’s the limit.

Below is a recipe for blackberry wine from Michael Judd’s Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist.

Judd’s book is chock-full of advice on everything homegrown and homemade including growing your own fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, herb spirals, raised-bed gardens, recipes, and more.

Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist

What Can Humans Learn from Bears?

August 27th, 2014 by admin

Imagine having an all-access pass to the world of bears. Being so comfortable with them, and they with you, that you are able to crawl into their dens, take photographs of their cubs and come nose to snout with them everyday.

Welcome to the world of black bear expert Benjamin Kilham. He has been studying wild black bear behavior for nearly two decades and his findings have shattered conventional wisdom about how these animals live their lives. Author Sy Montgomery calls his work, “more than just revealing; it’s revolutionary.”

Once thought to be solitary creatures, Kilham discovered that black bears actually have extraordinary communication and interaction with each other—creating and enforcing codes of conduct, forming alliances, and even sharing territory and food when supplies are ample.

Kilham’s book, In the Company of Bears (originally released in hardcover as Out on a Limb) tells the story of his experiences rehabilitating bear cubs and reintroducing them into the wild. Observing one bear, affectionately named Squirty, for the past 17 years, has given Kilham a unique and intimate lens into the black bear brain as he is allowed to watch his “foster daughter” find mates, form family units, and interact with other bears in her vicinity. Through these observations, he notes what bears can teach us humans about our past, present, and future as a species.

The book also details how Kilham’s dyslexia helped him to both gain insight into how bears communicate and how to best research them — through constant study and a hands-on approach rather than detached experiments.

“This fascinating book has detailed descriptions of bear body language, oral communication, and behavior—and how Ben learned to read them,” writes Temple Grandin in the book’s foreword. “I can relate to Ben and his story because his dyslexia and my autism have made us both visual thinkers who are very observant of small details that most other people miss. Animals live in a sensory-based world, and if you want to understand them, you must get away from the confines of verbal language.”

Learn more about the secret life of black bears in this interview with Ben Kilham on VPR’s Vermont Edition and watch him in action with his adorable bear cubs in this video:

In the Company of Bears is as much a peek into the personal lives of black bears as it is a look into Kilham’s own interactions with others. It is the story of a scientist once kept from a traditional science career by his dyslexia, only to find that thinking and seeing differently was his greatest gift and his best tool to interpret the non-human world.

In the Company of Bears: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition is now available in paperback and is on sale for 35% off until September 2.


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