Archive for January, 2012


Love a Book? Tell the World! — Or, The Importance of Online Reviews

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

You hear it all the time in this free-market worshiping country: vote with your dollars.

It’s a paltry excuse for representation, politically speaking, I mean, I’m assuming you’re just a regular person like me, with a rather small amount of “votes” to spend. It’s not exactly in fitting with that old chestnut “one person, one vote”, is it? But in the realm of consumer products it works a little better, and in the blissfully anarchic world of social media and online shopping it really works. A purchase on Amazon, for instance, is tabulated and tallied, boosting the comparative rank of the product you selected.

And there are other ways to “vote” online. Clicking a “like” button on Facebook instantly proclaims to the online universe that you’ve expressed goodwill toward a product, organization, or celebrity. Clicking “follow” within Twitter or Tumblr similarly bestows your benevolent, electronic smile upon whatever or whoever is lucky enough to have been chosen.

These simple gestures make it easy to spread the love online, but they’re not the only tool in your kit. If you really like what someone is selling or doing, you can also post about it on your own blog or profile, or post a review on a major shopping site.

A positive and in-depth review on Amazon does wonders to help others connect with a book you enjoyed. Like this recent one for Michael Phillips latest, The Holistic Orchard: “Southern California is three thousand miles and six climate zones from Northern New Hampshire, but I found Michael’s book more relevant to growing apples in my area than all the garden books I’ve seen written for Southern California….”

And this one from Didi Emmons’ Wild Flavors: “This is an incredible must-have book for anyone out there who likes to know where their food comes from and enjoys exploring new flavors in their kitchen. Recipes aside for a moment, the book itself is beautiful….Emmons also highlights plenty of common edible weeds that can be foraged across the United States at different times of the year (oxalis, goosefoot, knotweed, and autumn olives to name a few), which will not only diversify your menu but will also make walking your dog or driving on the highway a lot more fun (you can play the “hey! that’s edible!” game). This is my new favorite book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in food, farming, or the environment!

Or a blog post on a site like the Huffington Post, like this recent review of Reinventing Fire: “[Lovins' ingenious, fact-rich, and optimistic] book offers not ideas of how to deal with these barriers, but a vision of what we could have, a system that would benefit many stakeholders, including nimble corporations.”

Or even on your own blog, with a small but dedicated audience, like Walden Effect’s multi-part review of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: “Harvey Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is the number one homesteading related book to read this year.  I know, I know — Joel Salatin put out his first non-self-published book, The Dirty Life promises to reach beyond the usual homesteading readership, and Sepp Holzer has finally published a book about his methods in English, all in 2011.  But for the backyard homesteader itching to turn her farm into a permaculture masterpiece, Harvey Ussery’s book has those bestsellers beat hands-down.”

Have you been inspired by one of our titles? Keep in mind that your positive response can do more than make you smile, and chatter about the book to friends and family (although, by all means, please do that too!). If you take a few minutes to post a review on Facebook, a blog or Amazon, it will give other readers valuable insight into what made that book work for you. And selling more books makes authors (well, and publishers, of course) really happy!

So we hope you’ll continue reading and enjoying our books. If you do, don’t keep it to yourself!

Marijuana Push in Colorado Likens It to Alcohol — The New York Times

Friday, January 27th, 2012

DENVER — Proponents of marijuana have argued for years that the drug is safer than alcohol, both to individuals and society. But a ballot proposal to legalize possession of marijuana in small amounts in Colorado, likely to be on the November ballot, is putting the two intoxicants back into the same sentence, urging voters to “regulate marijuana like alcohol,” as the ballot proposition’s title puts it.

Given alcohol’s long and checkered history — the tens of thousands of deaths each year, the social ravages of alcoholism — backers of the pro-marijuana measure concede there is a risk of looking as if they have cozied up too much, or are comparable, to old demon rum.

“Why add another vice, right?” said Mason Tvert, a co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which has led the ballot drive. “But we’re not adding a vice; we’re providing an alternative.”

The goal of legalization, Mr. Tvert added, is not to make access to marijuana easier, but rather, “to make our communities safer by regulating this substance, taking it out of the underground market, controlling it and better keeping it away from young people.”

Read the rest of the article at NYTimes.com

Mason Tvert, along with coauthors Paul Armentano and Steve Fox, have long been making the case that Marijuana is Safer than alcohol. For more on their insights into this benign botanical and the silly politics that keep it illegal, check out the book!

Winter Conference Season Kick Off Sale – Save 35%!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

One of the great things about a northeastern winter is the strong sense of community the harsh weather inspires. A great way to feel that sense of community is to check out your local organic farming organizations.

Hang out with small farmers, sample delicious local foods, attend workshops by renowned experts, and learn a thing or two to improve your farm, garden, or home.

Many of our authors are leading these workshops. Take a look at the current list of who will be where and when: http://ow.ly/8Bb9S

Happy reading from the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing.

P.S. In case you missed it our bestsellers from 2011 are on sale until January 31. Take a look here: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/sale-bestseller-of-2011/

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way“Honeybees are like bankers,” orchard guru Michael Phillips recently told The New York Times. “They work 9 to 5, and only when it’s 60 degrees. Bumblebees and mason bees work from first light until dark, and pollinate all the female parts of a flower, so all the seeds take.”Native bees, Phillips explained, are more efficient at pollinating than the disappearing European bees. To encourage those bees to stay and pollinate his trees and berry bushes, Phillips uses pieces of septic pipe as inviting spots for the bees to nest.This simple technique is one of many you can find in his new book, The Holistic Orchard, out this month.Phillips takes readers “beyond organic” and into the universe of holistic growing practices for the backyard orchardist looking to grow pome fruits (apples and pears), stone fruits (cherries, peaches and plums), and berries.In the Times article, Phillips explains many of the tried-and-true techniques he puts into practice on his northern New Hampshire orchard, and talks about some of his favorite apple varieties, too.

Michael is leading workshops throughout the winter. See if he’ll be near you and find out why he’s such an inspiration to orchards large and small.

Take a look at where Michael Phillips will be.

Read the full NYTimes article.

Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm

Wild Flavors Book Cover Image

Wild Flavors follows a year at Eva’s Garden through the seasons. It showcases Emmons’ creative talents, featuring herbs (African basil, calaminth, lovage) and wild foods (autumn olives, wild roses, Japanese knotweed). The author provides growing or foraging information for each of the forty-six uncommon garden plants profiled, as well as details on prepping, storing, preserving, and health benefits. The wide-ranging recipes reflect the shifting seasonal harvest and are easy to follow, but best of all, Emmons shows us how these herbs, greens and wild foods improve and transform the flavors in our food.

“Didi Emmons has long been a hero to me. She teaches, tempts and transforms all of our senses, even our common sense. Let her artistry open our eyes and taste buds to the wild flavors all around us. Enjoy!”—Frances Moore Lappe, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

You can get a taste by checking out Living on Earth, who visited Eva’s Garden with Didi Emmons.

See Didi’s upcoming events.

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

 

 

 

Small Scale Poultry Flock Book Cover Image

 

The most comprehensive and definitive guide to date on raising all-natural poultry. For homesteaders or farmers seeking to close their loop, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock offers a practical and integrative model for working with chickens and other domestic fowl, based entirely on natural systems.

No other book on raising poultry takes an entirely whole-systems approach, or discusses producing homegrown feed and breeding in such detail—it is truly an invaluable and groundbreaking guide that will lead farmers and homesteaders into a new world of self-reliance and enjoyment.

“Here’s the ultimate book for those who want to know everything there is to know about raising poultry. And every detail is backed up by the author’s own (and often entertaining) experiences. I could not find—in this encyclopedic array of chicken knowhow—one detail that I would quibble with.”—Gene Logsdon, author of Holy Shit and The Contrary Farmer

Check out Harvey’s upcoming events. 

Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind

 

 

 

Holy Shit Book Cover Image

 

Contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure—our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure—worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value—but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so.

Don’t miss out on his upcoming book, A Sanctuary of Trees: Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions, due out in March. You can pre-order it now by clicking here.

Take a look at Gene Logsdon’s upcoming events.

Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares

 

 

 

Chanterelle Dreams Book Cover Image

 

Throughout history, people have had a complex and confusing relationship with mushrooms. Are fungi food or medicine, beneficial decomposers or deadly “toadstools” ready to kill anyone foolhardy enough to eat them? In fact, there is truth in all these statements.

In Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares, author Greg Marley reveals some of the wonders and mysteries of mushrooms, and our conflicting human reactions to them. 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 and our human fascination with them.

“This book is an enticing invitation into the fungal realm, accessible and a pleasure to read.” — Sandor Ellix Katz, Author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not be Microwaved

See where Greg Marley will be this winter.

 Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered

 

 

 

Slow Money Book Cover Image

 

Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money presents an essential new strategy for investing in local food systems and introduces a group of fiduciary activists who are exploring what should come after industrial finance and industrial agriculture. Theirs is a vision for investing that puts soil fertility into return-on-investment calculations and serves people and place as much at it serves industry sectors and markets.

“Once in a while, a book comes along that has the potential to change things. This is one such book. It has the potential to unleash a major movement in this country.”—Steve Costa, Owner, Point Reyes Books.

See Woody Tasch’s event schedule.

Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

 

 

 

Radical Homemakers Book Cover Image

 

Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises—drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities.  In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires.Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act, and who have centered their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change.

Brilliant, visionary, and practical. This is a mind-bending book that will forever change your view of human possibility and compel you to rethink your life. My highest recommendation.”—David Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy and The Great Turning, and board chair of YES! magazine

Take a look at Shannon Hayes’ upcoming events.

Natural Beekeeing: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture

 

 

 

Natural Book Keeping book Cover Image

 

Ross Conrad brings together the best organic and natural approaches to keeping honeybees healthy and productive. Readers will learn about nontoxic methods of controlling mites, eliminating American foulbrood disease (without the use of antibiotics), breeding strategies, and many other tips and techniques for maintaining healthy hives. Specific concepts and detailed management techniques are covered in a matter-of-fact, easy-to-implement way.

Natural Beekeeping describes opportunities for the seasoned professional to modify existing operations, increase profits, and eliminate the use of chemical treatments. Beginners will need no other book to guide them. Whether you are an experienced apiculturist looking for ideas to develop an integrated pest management approach or someone who wants to sell honey at a premium price, this is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Take a look at Ross Conrad’s event schedule.

The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition

 

 

 

The Soul of Soil Book Cover Image

 

Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.

This eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.

See co-author Gracy Gershuny’s event schedule.

Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods

 

 

 

Genetic Roulette Book Cover Image

 

The biotech industry’s claim that genetically modified (GM) foods are safe is shattered in this groundbreaking book. Nearly forty health risks of the foods that Americans eat every day are presented in easy-to-read two-page spreads. The left page is designed for the quick scanning reader; it includes bullets, illustrations, and quotes. The right side offers fully referenced text, describing both research studies and theoretical risks.

Genetic Roulette explores why children are most at risk, how to avoid GM foods, false claims by biotech advocates, how industry research is rigged to avoid finding problems, why GM crops are not needed to feed the world, the economic losses associated with these crops, and more.

Take a look at Jeffrey Smith’s event schedule.

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit

The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook Book Cover Image

Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. What’s required is farming smarter, not harder.

In The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, Richard Wiswall shares advice on how to make your vegetable production more efficient, better manage your employees and finances, and turn a profit.

From his twenty-seven years of experience at Cate Farm in Vermont, Wiswall knows firsthand the joys of starting and operating an organic farm—as well as the challenges of making a living from one. Farming offers fundamental satisfaction from producing food, working outdoors, being one’s own boss, and working intimately with nature.

Take a look at Richard Wiswall’s upcoming events.

Edible Forest Gardens (Two volume set)

Edible Forest Gardens Book Cover Image

Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening-one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.

Take a look at co-author Dave Jake’s upcoming schedule

Take a look at co-author Eric Toensmeier’s upcoming schedule

Organic Dairy Production

Organic Dairy Production Book Cover Image

Part of the guide series from Northeast Organic Farming Association, on organic principles and practices for both the beginner farmer as well as established farmers looking to convert to organic, or deepen their practices.

Organic Dairy Production uses a strong whole-systems farming theory behind practical advice, as well as offer historical information, further resources, detailed appendices, and profiles of various organic farms across the Northeast.

Take a look at Sarah Flack’s upcoming events.

Coming Soon!

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

This spring is shaping up to be one of our most exciting seasons yet, with new titles to fill important niches in your sustainable living library.

Are you already an avid sauerkraut fermenter, but looking to raise your microbial game to the next level? Check out The Art of Fermentation from Sandor Ellix Katz! Are you a Slow Money advocate, but curious as to how you can make the concept of local investing into a fruitful reality for your own finances? Check out Local Dollars, Local Sense! Are you in the market to build a new home (lucky you!), but interested in integrating straw-bale and cob into the project? Check out the comprehensive book/DVD combo from Yestermorrow Design Build School teachers, The Natural Building Companion!

These essential books, and the rest of our exciting spring list, will inspire and teach you to live well for years to come. Enjoy!

Forthcoming Titles!

Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform
by Ross Jackson
As demonstrators worldwide demand change, Occupy World Street offers a sweeping vision of how to reform our global economic and political structures, break away from empire, and build a world of self-determining sovereign states that respect the need for ecological sustainability and uphold human rights.

Available in late January!

Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity
by Michael Shuman
How can people increasingly concerned with the poor returns from Wall Street and the devastating impact of global companies on their communities invest in Main Street? In Local Dollars, Local Sense, local economy pioneer Michael Shuman shows investors how to put their money into building local businesses and resilient regional economies—and profit in the process.

Available in February!

Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and its place in Western Civilization
by Paul Kindstedt
A comprehensive look at the 9,000-year history of cheese, the ways in which it has shaped civilization, and what it can tell us about the future of food.

Available in mid-March!

A Sanctuary of Trees: Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions
by Gene Logsdon
In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world.

Available in late March!

The Natural Building Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Integrative Design and Construction
by Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton
Natural buildings not only bring satisfaction to their makers and joy to their occupants, they also leave the gentlest footprint on the environment. In this complete reference to natural building philosophy, design, and technique, Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton walk builders through planning and construction, offering step-by-step instructions on many important techniques.

Available in early April!

The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family
by Madeleine M. Kunin
Feminists opened up thousands of doors in the 1960s and 1970s, but decades later, are U.S. women where they thought they’d be? The answer, it turns out, is a resounding no. It’s time, says Madeleine M. Kunin, to change that. Looking back over five decades of advocacy, she analyzes where progress stalled, looks at the successes of other countries, and charts the course for the next feminist revolution—one that calls for the kind of government and workplace policies that can improve the lives of women and strengthen their families.

Available in early April!

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World
by Sandor Ellix Katz
The most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners. With a foreword by Michael Pollan.

Available in late April!

Miso Soup for the Soul

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz. It has been adapted for the Web.

The classic way to enjoy miso is in the form of miso soup. The comfort and healing that Jewish grandmothers have proverbially offered in the form of chicken soup, I have more often found in miso soup. No food I know is more soothing.

When you make miso soup, miso is the last thing you add. In its simplest form, miso soup is just hot water with miso, about 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of miso per cup (250 milliliters) of water. Add the hot water to the miso and blend it thoroughly. Boiling miso will kill it.

On the other hand, miso soup can be as elaborate as you want. Adding seaweed is generally where I start. Seaweeds have deep, complex flavors. Some people think it makes them sound more appealing to call them sea vegetables. But I like to honor their wildness by calling them weeds. They carry the essence of the sea. They are rich in nutritional and healing properties. One of their specific benefits is a compound called alginic acid, which binds with heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, and radioactive elements like strontium 90, and carries them out of your body (much like the dipicolinic acid of miso). Seaweeds also nourish the cardiovascular system, improve digestion, help regulate metabolism and glandular and hormonal flows, and calm the nervous system. I love to throw seaweed into pretty much anything I cook. Miso soup is almost always prepared with seaweed. Japanese recipes for dashi, or soup stock, traditionally call for kombu, a Pacific Ocean seaweed. I get my seaweed from small-scale seaweed harvesters on the Maine coast, where kombu is not found. The North Atlantic equivalent is called Laminaria digitata. Digitata is a thick and hardy variety of kelp. Each stalk’s growth splits off into several digits of wavy greenbrown flesh, hence the name digitata.

I had a memorable experience harvesting digitata, guided by seaweed harvesting partners Matt and Raivo of Ironbound Island Seaweed, off the Schoodic Peninsula in “Downeast” Maine. We woke up at 4:00 A.M., squeezed ourselves into skintight wet suits, and drove down to the harbor. We got into a wooden boat that Matt had built himself, and towed a smaller wooden boat, which he had also built. Do-it-yourself has no limits. We glided through the calm bay waters into the foggy dawn for a long time. I wondered how my guides could possibly navigate in the dense grayness where the sea, sky, and land all blended into one. We saw seagulls and seals. The water got choppier. We were headed beyond the harbor to the turbulent ocean waters where digitata thrives.

We arrived at our destination just as the tide was getting low enough to give us access. Seaweed harvesting is ruled by the tides. Matt and Raivo do almost all of their harvesting during the week each month when the tides are at their lowest. We anchored the big boat and got into the smaller boat, then aimed for a large stand of digitata growing from an underwater rock ledge. When we got near the digitata, we jumped out of the boat into the cold, choppy water. Matt and Raivo took turns staying in the boat to keep it from drifting away, continually rowing back to near where we were, so we could toss the digitata that we harvested into the boat.

There I was in the ocean, with a sharp knife in my hand. The idea was to stand on the rock ledge from which the digitata was growing and cut the stalk to harvest it. Sounds straightforward enough. And it would have been, had the waves been kind enough to stop. But every time a wave came rolling rhythmically in, suddenly the water over the rock ledge I was standing on was about five feet deep instead of two feet. Reaching down to the digitata stalk in the deeper water involved dunking my entire body, head included, into the ocean. And half the time the wave would knock me right off the rock ledge.

I spent a lot of that morning flailing around, knife in one hand, seaweed in the other, feeling like Lucy Ricardo in another madcap misadventure. When I’d actually get a handful of digitata, the goal was to throw it into the rowboat, another challenge intensified by the rough water. It was crazy, and incredibly fun, regardless of how little I managed to harvest. As my body was pushed around by the waves, I identified with the seaweeds, whose lives are a continual push and pull of tidal influences. Several small rowboat loads later, the tide was rising too high for us to continue, so we boated back in the mid-morning sun to the South Gouldsboro harbor, nestled in a bed of slippery digitata.

When we got back to Matt and Raivo’s place, we shed our wet suits and ate, then got down to the business of hanging all the seaweed to dry. Each plant requires individual handling. After hours of hanging digitata, our hands were covered with gooey gelatinous slime. Another time when I helped Matt and Raivo hang wet seaweed, I had just been in an auto accident. I found that the flexible slimy seaweed absorbed the shock from my body. Eating seaweed brings this soothing absorptive quality into your digestive tract.

Most of the seaweed available in the United States is imported from Japan, where it is a popular staple ingredient and is farmed intensively. I want to make a plug for seaweed bioregionalism and urge readers to support small seaweed harvesters along America’s coastal waters. Matt and Raivo sell seaweed as Ironbound Island Seaweed. Other seaweed harvesters I can recommend are Larch Hanson in Maine and Ryan Drum in Washington. Contact information for these suppliers is listed in the Cultural Resources section.

We were making miso soup. Use whatever is in your refrigerator or your garden that needs to get used up. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Start with water. One quart (1 liter) of water makes soup for 2 to 4 people. Quantities of the other ingredients are in proportion to a quart of water. Start heating the water to a boil, while you add other ingredients; once it boils, lower the heat and simmer.
  2. Add the seaweed first. As it cooks, its flavors and qualities melt into the broth. I use scissors to cut up dried seaweed into small pieces, easier to fit in a spoon. Cut up a 3- to 4-inch (8- to 10-centimeter) strip of digitata, kombu, or another variety of seaweed, or more than one type. Add the small pieces of seaweed to the water. Once this boils for a few minutes, you have a traditional Japanese dashi, or stock. Make your miso soup from this, or make it more elaborate.
  3. The next thing I add is root vegetables. Burdock root (gobo in Japanese) gives a hearty, earthy flavor to soup, as well as its tonifying and cleansing powers. Use about half a burdock root. Slice it lengthwise, then into thin half-moons. Also cut up a carrot and/or part of a daikon root. Add the root vegetables to the pot of soup stock.
  4. Next I add mushrooms if I have them around. Shiitakes are my favorite, but any kind goes well in soup. I never wash mushrooms because they are so absorptive and I would rather have them absorb soup than plain water. Just wipe away any visible dirt. Slice 3 or 4 mushrooms into pieces small enough for a spoon and add them to the soup stock.
  5. Cabbage is good in miso, just a little bit, chopped finely and added to the stock.
  6. If you want heartier soup, you can add tofu. Take about half a pound (250 grams) of tofu, rinse it, slice it into small cubes, and add it to your stock. If you have any leftover cooked whole grains around, add a scoop of them to the stock. Break up any clumps with a spoon. Soups are an excellent opportunity for recycling leftovers.
  7. Peel and chop four (or more!) cloves of garlic and prepare any green vegetables. Cut small pieces of florets from a stalk of broccoli, or chop up a few leaves of kale, collards, or other greens.
  8. Check to make sure the root vegetables are tender and the tofu is hot. When they are, turn off the flame. Remove a cup of the stock and add the garlic and green vegetables to the pot. Cover the pot. Mash about 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) of miso into the cup of stock you removed. For a hearty soup, you can also add 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of tahini. Once it’s well blended, return it to the pot of stock and stir. Taste the soup. Add more miso, if needed, using the same technique.
  9. Garnish the soup with chopped scallions, wild onions, or chives. Enjoy. Soup like this is a one-dish meal.
  10. When you heat leftover soup, heat it gently, trying not to boil the miso.

Amory Lovins Explains It All: How Business Can Lead the March Toward a Renewable Future

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

One of our latest books isn’t by just an amazing activist-author, it’s by an amazing think-and-do-tank as well! 

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era takes a hard look at current technology and explains, carefully and objectively, how it’s possible to leave fossil fuels behind in just 40 years — and why it’s necessary. But far from being a dreamy manifesto (which, don’t get us wrong, we also appreciate!) Reinventing Fire is full of practical solutions. 

Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute have investigated the renewable energy possibilities and this book is a report on how we can make it happen, and why we must. Here’s a recent blog post from RMI, sharing a video of Amory saying just this. Enjoy!

Oil and coal have built our civilization, created our wealth and enriched the lives of billions. Yet their rising costs to our security, economy, health and environment are eroding and starting to outweigh their benefits.

The good news is that the tipping point where alternatives work better and compete on pure cost is not decades in the future; it is here and now. And that tipping point has become the fulcrum of economic transformation.

Listen to RMI Chief Scientist Amory Lovins explain to Merrill Lynch’s Pamela Faatz how Reinventing Fire offers a new vision that can revitalize business models and end-run Washington gridlock.

“America is equipped in entrepreneurship, capital and technical skills to lead this revolution,” Lovins says. “And, by using our most effective institutions – the dynamism of the private sector – this is a transition business can lead. So let’s roll.”

Reposted from RMI.org.

The Hell Child: Citizens United Enters the Terrible Twos

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Today marks the second anniversary of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. Yes, it’s true, our little devil-may-care campaign spending hellion is now entering his terrible twos.

And it shows.

If any one felt as if the United States was a plutocracy wearing democracy as a fig leaf, Citizens United stripped away the remaining fragments of illusion and laid it all bare. The problem, is do enough people actually care?

Cries from the dozens of Occupy Wall Street protests and encampments around the country included calls for an end to the influence of limitless corporate donations on our elections, if not an end to the notion that somehow corporations are people. I mean, really, can they be turned into Soylent Green? I think not.

If you think we’ve seen the worst of big-money influence on our elections, think again: Read this eye-popping report from our pals at AlterNet, which outlines just how much money some corporations are prepared to spend — and others to earn — thanks to Citizens United.

How to stop it?

It’s not as easy as it seems, as Stephen Rosenfeld points out at Alternet, but the Internet-wide effort to thwart proposed “piracy” legislation gives some hope that a focused, concerted “strike” against those in power can have a positive, if potentially short-term, effect and victory.

The electoral system is rigged against actual populist uprisings and what ordinary folks want from their politicians and the government. In this game, free speech is most protected for those who can spend more. Most of us can’t pump unlimited monies into a SuperPAC — or have a platform like satirist  Stephen Colbert to mock these Hydra-esque offshoots of Citizens United.

As Gina Kim at Moyers.com points out in this great interview with Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, there may be ways in which we can bring greater attention to the companies and individuals donating to these SuperPACs as a way to better inform voters about who’s behind these groups. Legislation is in the works that would force donors to be listed publicly. Gee, imagine that!

A recent court ruling in California gives hope that local laws aimed at blunting the worst effects of Citizens United can be written in such a way as to stand the test of a court challenge.

We need more local efforts like that out of San Diego to combat Citizens United as it’s likely attempts at the federal level will meet with strong resistance by those who benefit from the status quo created under Citizens United.

Here in Vermont, lawmakers recently introduced a resolution — which, if adopted would be the first of its kind by a state legislature — calling on Congress to initiate a constitutional amendment to undo the damage of Citizens United. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has launched a petition calling for support of just such a constitutional amendment — one that he’s introduced in the Senate. Close to 190,000 people have signed the petition so far — have you? You should.

There’s also a statewide effort in Vermont to get folks on Town Meeting Day to also call on Congress to amend the constitution. The state’s largest city has already approved the question to be placed on its ballot. More are expected to follow suit this month. Town meetings are held in communities across the state in March and, while not binding votes, can help to send a clear message to policymakers about what citizens expect from their government.

You should be asking your local representatives and elected officials to be doing the same.

If I recall correctly, the preamble to the Constitution reads, “We the People …” not “We the People Corporations … .”

Sap Moon, and a Recipe for ‘Hot Coco Cocoa’

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice. It has been adapted for the Web.

Once again we shall
See the snow melt
Taste the flowing sap
Touch the budding seeds.
Smell the whitening flowers
Know the renewal of life.

—From an Anishnabeg (Ojibway) thanksgiving for spring, translated from the Anishnabeg

Following the Hunger Moon, just before the first thaw after the cold winter, comes the Sap Moon. Though snow and ice still cover the ground throughout the North, the very first movements of spring stir within the forest trees. The sap of renewed life begins to rise up through the trunks, making its slow and steady way to the outermost tips of the branches where it will nurture the buds that will become new leaves.

While all northern trees produce sap at this time of year, the sugar maple in particular inspired the naming of the Sap Moon. Maple sap runs from the first sign of thaw until the first buds appear on the trees—a period of four to six weeks, depending on the weather. During this phase of the year, in times past, the northern dwellers of the eastern part of this continent would begin to check the maple trees for the sweet sap that was an important source of food. When the sap was running it was time to head for your nearest grove of sugar maples, called a sugar bush, begin tapping the trees, collecting sap, and pouring it into large pots for sugaring. What a lovely thing to contemplate: people stirring huge cauldrons of boiling maple sap with a wooden spoon over a fire in the midst of a snowy wood. The fragrance of the sap as it evaporated slowly into thick, sweet syrup must have been intoxicating.

The first peoples to harvest maple sap were the indigenous peoples of the northern woodlands, where the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, is both native and prodigious. For many cultures—the Anishnabeg (or Ojibway or Chippewa), Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquody, Penobscot, Potawatomi, and Iroquois, to name a few—tapping maple trees was an annual ritual. The sap is watery and clear; Native peoples drank it as a spring tonic beverage and used it to make vinegar. European colonists often called it maple water. An Iroquois legend explains how the secret of maple sugaring was discovered. A chief named Woksis threw his tomahawk into a tree before leaving on a hunt. As the weather warmed, the sap began to flow from the gash into a container that happened to be sitting by the tree. The woman of the house found the container full of liquid, assumed her thoughtful husband had already been to the stream to fetch it full of water, and used it to boil the evening’s meat. As the meat stewed, the sap cooked down into syrup, and thus the secret of maple sugaring was revealed.

The Sap Moon was also often called the Sugar Moon. The process of reducing maple sap is called sugaring, and most indigenous peoples that relied on maple sap as a primary source of carbohydrate, flavor, and nutrition cooked the sap down past the syrup stage and into the sugar stage, at which point it crystallizes. Solid sugar was much easier to transport than liquid syrup, and was conveniently packaged in birch-bark containers often called mokuks, which held from twenty to thirty pounds each.

Indigenous communities often moved camp during the sap season to be close to a sugar bush, and passed the entirety of the month or so while the sap ran there, engaged full-time in making sugar. They kept enough sugar for the community and then traded, sold, or gave away the rest. In 1896 a European American observer of indigenous culture wrote:

The season of sugar-making came when the first crow appeared. This happened about the beginning or middle of March, while there was yet snow on the ground. This period of the season was looked forward to with great interest, and, as among the Minnesota Ojibwa today, became a holiday for everybody. Each female head of a household had her own sugar hut, built in a locality abounding in maple trees which might or might not have been convenient to her camp, but which was the place always resorted to by her, and claimed by right of descent through her mother’s family and totem.

Early American colonists quickly adapted sugaring techniques to their own technologies. They used spouts, buckets, and huge iron cauldrons to boil the sap down into sugar. Farmers in the northern regions added sugaring to their repertoire of homesteading skills. Benjamin Rush, in 1792, wrote:

No more knowledge is necessary for making this sugar than is required to make soap, cyder, beer, sour crout, etc., and yet one or all of these are made in most of the farm houses of the United States. The kettles and other utensils of a farmer’s kitchen, will serve most of the purposes of making sugar and the time required for the labor, (if it deserve that name) is at a season when it is impossible for the farmer to employ himself in any species of agriculture.

For homesteading farmers and indigenous peoples alike, maple sugaring was the main contribution that could be made to the food supply at this time of year, and the products are utterly delicious. Another note made about the indigenous northerners was: “Generally, they prefer their maple sugar to the West Indian cane sugar, and say that it tastes more fragrant—more of the forest.”

Hot Coco Cocoa

Serves 1–2

I make this hot cocoa at least once a week! Sometimes I like to froth it in my milk frother until it is foamy (do this between steps 4 and 5).

  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups raw whole milk
  • Few grains of sea salt
  1. Heat the water in a small, heavybottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the palm sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk vigorously as the mixture comes to a simmer until both sugar and cocoa are dissolved.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Heat gently until the cocoa feels hot to the touch, but not so hot that you can’t keep your finger there (about 110° F).
  5. Remove from heat and pour into warm cups or mugs.

A Strike for Internet Freedom

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

We’ve been asked by some of our readers if Chelsea Green will go on strike today in solidarity with dozens of larger sites, and hundreds of smaller ones, protesting two proposed pieces of federal legislation that have the potential to greatly infringe upon the Internet and free speech.

The answer is no, we’re not blacking out the site, but we do stand with our fellow online free speech advocates and organizations in opposing the legislation and support efforts to ensure these bills never see the light of day.

Besides, today is more like holding up a protest sign in the street. A good start, but to really ensure the government doesn’t quash free speech and access to information on the Internet action must be taken.

This site has a list of the major players who are on “strike” today to protest these bills — largely because they are rightly concerned with the government given too much leeway to shut down websites allegedly selling pirated material. There is little in the bill that actually combats piracy, rather it gives large companies more tools to shut down sites they deem a threat and using the government and the courts as their sledgehammer.

The bills are known as SOPA and PIPA and they stand for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is in the U.S. House, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which is in the U.S. Senate.  ProPublica has a cool feature that shows you where your Representatives and Senators stand on the bill.

If you don’t like what you read, drop ‘em a line and let ‘em know. Congress reconvenes on Monday and the Senate vows to take up the legislation despite growing outcry over key provisions.

Here in Vermont, our senior senator U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, is the lead Senate sponsor of PIPA. He also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that has jurisdiction over the legislation.

Leahy has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and organizations who have been pushing SOPA and PIPA. And, last fall the Directors Guild of America feted Leahy in New York City for his “unflagging commitment to safeguarding the content created by DGA members and others in the creative and business communities against the ravages of digital theft and counterfeiting.” Read: He did our bidding and how we’re going to throw him a party.

More than a dozen groups that promote free speech — including the American Library Association and Reporters Without Borders — are urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to tone down the proposed law.

In a May letter to Leahy, the coalition wrote that the bill “makes nearly every actor on the Internet potentially subject to enforcement orders under the bill, raising new policy questions regarding government interference with online activity and speech.”

If pissing off librarians wasn’t enough for Leahy and his ilk, they’ve since upset major Internet companies, too.

Here are a few great sites where you can learn more about the dangers lurking in SOPA and PIPA , including the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF has also set up an easy way for you to contact your federal representatives and voice your opposition to these bills.

As EFF notes, today is just the start of a series of actions. Some of the bigger efforts come next week when the House and Senate return from their “recess” and take up the legislation.

Though Leahy has offered to dump some of the more controversial sections of the legislation, expect the bill to rear its ugly head again. PIPA, in fact, was simply another Internet censorship bill — the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act — gussied up and given a new name. COICA never came up for a full Senate vote, and died a natural death at the end of the last session of Congress. Let’s hope the same happens with PIPA.

Yesterday Leahy castigated the strike, calling it an act of self-censorship that misstates the intent of PIPA. He urged his colleagues to debate and approve the bill next week.

All I can say is that if this “strike” is successful in mobilizing enough people to kill this bill, perhaps we should be thinking more broadly about physical, national strikes across all sectors of the economy to protest bad government policies. You know, the policies that seem to only benefit the 1 percent and leave us 99 percenters behind.

Just a thought.

History of Winter Gardening: The 17th Century French Garden System

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

For a slew of reasons, we’ve come to believe in this culture that growing vegetables through the snowy winter months is impossible. The common arguments are that the weather is too cold, or that the days are too dark. Eliot Coleman, author of The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses, has proven us all wrong. By learning from—and building upon—16th and 17th century techniques, Eliot is able to grow amazing amounts of organic vegetable all year-round at his farm in Harborside, Maine.

In his book, Eliot discusses the history of winter gardening and the innovative techniques that, as Eliot points out, were nearly lost for all time.

The following is an excerpt from The Winter Harvest Handbook, in which Eliot points out the benefits of a nearly-ancient method of urban food production.

If year-round production of fresh local vegetables is your goal, and you like the idea of being small-scale and space efficient, then you will find no model more inspiring than that of the Parisian growers of 150 years ago. La culture maraîchère (market gardening) in Paris during the second half of the nineteenth century was the impressive result of years of improvement in both protected and outdoor vegetable production. The earliest developments in season extension (using primitive predecessors of the cold frame) had begun in the royal potager (vegetable garden) at Versailles under the celebrated head gardener La Quintinie in the 1670s and ’80s. Those early beginnings reached their impressive climax in the hands of the Parisian maraîchers (market gardeners) between 1850 and 1900.

The “French garden system” (as it was called in English) was impressive for reasons that sound very up-to-date today.

  • It was as local as you can get, taking place in and around an urban area. The cultivated land of the Parisian growers covered up to one-sixteenth (six percent) of all the land within the city limits of Paris. The Parisian street addresses given for some of these nineteenth-century “gardens” are the twenty-first-century addresses of office and apartment buildings. The city of Paris, once self-sufficient in fresh vegetables, must now import produce from far away.
  • The selection of produce was excellent. This system fed Paris all year round with the widest variety of both in-season and out-of-season fruits and vegetables. Hotbeds heated with decomposing horse manure and covered with glass frames allowed the growers to defy the cold and produce fresh salads in January and early cucumbers and melons in May and June.
  • The system was sustainable. Both the heat for winter production of vegetables in hotbeds and the amendments to maintain the fertility of the soil were by-products of composting another by-product—the horse manure mixed with straw that came from the city stables. This recycling of the “transportation wastes” of the day was so successful and so extensive that the soil increased in fertility from year to year despite the high level of production.
  • A final impressive factor was the amazing productivity of the system as evidenced by the quantity of vegetables grown. In addition to feeding the inhabitants of Paris, the growers also exported vegetables to England. Growers averaged at least four and usually up to eight harvests per year from the same piece of ground. It was a successful system both practically and economically.
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