Sciencewriters Archive


Want to Learn About Ecological Agriculture?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Interested in all things agriculture — sustainable, organic or eco? Want to learn more about the most up-to-date, or time-tested, techniques designed to improve animal, soil, and human health and the food you eat?

Our friends at Acres U.S.A. are hosting their annual conference next month in Columbus, Ohio, and there’s still time to register for a full slate of workshops, pre-conference seminars, and keynote presentations.

Join several Chelsea Green authors along with dozens of others of the country’s best and brightest in agriculture for this three-day event. Among the featured speakers and the workshop leaders, will be the following Chelsea Green authors:

Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett will be at the conference to lead a Saturday morning workshop on using the GAPS Diet and making it work for your life and family. The workshop is partially based on their popular new book, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet. Dr. Joseph Mercola — the conference’s keynote speaker — featured their book on his popular website in September.

Gianaclis Caldwell, author of The Small-Scale Dairy, The Small-Scale Cheese Business, and the award-winning Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking. Caldwell is well-known on the conference circuit for her engaging and informative workshops. At this year’s Acres conference, she’ll present two workshops — one on the benefits and challenges of working with goat milk, and another on once-a-day milking strategies.

Cole Ward, author of The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat, will present a workshop on the basics of butchering and the opportunities it presents for farmers. A native of Vermont, Ward is an experienced butcher, teacher, and his workshops are always informative, and with just a dash of humor. Ward will also present an introduction to gourmet butchering during the pre-conference Eco-Ag U.

Find out more about each of our authors’ recent books below, and be sure to get your tickets now for what promises to be another great Acres U.S.A. conference.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook
by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett
In The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, readers will learn about the key cooking techniques and ingredients that form the backbone of the GAPS Diet: working with stocks and broths, soaking nuts and seeds, using coconut, and culturing raw dairy. The authors offer encouraging, real-life perspectives on the life-changing improvements to the health of their families by following this challenging, but powerful, diet. With more than 200 straightforward, family-friendly, nutrient-dense recipes, this book is a must-have if you are considering the GAPS Diet, or simply looking to improve your digestive health and—by extension—your physical and mental well-being.
SmallScaleDairy_lorescover The Small-Scale Dairy
by Gianaclis Caldwell

The Small-Scale Dairy includes everything you need to know in order to successfully produce nourishing, healthy, farm-fresh milk. Whether for home use, direct sale to the consumer, or sale to an artisanal cheesemaker, high- quality raw milk is a delicate, desirable product. Successful and sustainable production requires the producer to consider and tackle many details, ranging from animal care to microbiology to good hygienic practices—and, for those with commercial aspirations, business plans, market savvy, and knowledge of the regulations.
Gourmet-Butcher The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat
by Cole Ward
Vermont-based master butcher Cole Ward delivers a comprehensive guide to whole-animal butchery that goes beyond conventional “do-it-yourself” books and takes readers inside the world of truly sustainable meat production. The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat demystifies the process of getting meat to the table, and its wide scope will be welcome to those who not only wish to learn the rudiments of butchery, but also want to understand how meat animals are raised, slaughtered, and marketed in a holistic system that honors both animals and consumers.

Growing Food in the Face of Global Warming

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

If you want proof of how difficult it is to grow food in the face of global warming, look no further than the food basket of the United States. There, especially in California, soils are crumbling, drying, and the fight over water resources is increasing between farmers, cities, and rural residents. Crop insurance rates are on the rise as are food prices, and there’s no relief in sight.

This climatic uncertainty is forcing farmers, gardeners, and orchardists to desperately seek new ways to adapt how they grow food in the face of climate change. In his most recent Chelsea Green book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, author and ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan—one of the world’s foremost experts on agricultural traditions in arid lands—offers time-tested strategies to not merely adapt, but thrive, in dry growing conditions.

As Nabhan noted in this New York Times Opinion piece, roughly 40 percent of the net farm income for the entire United States comes from 17 Western states, and the ongoing drought threatens our food security:

[C]attle and sheep production make up a significant part of that, as do salad greens, dry beans, onions, melons, hops, barley, wheat and citrus fruits. The current heat wave will undeniably diminish both the quality and quantity of these foods.

The most vulnerable crops are those that were already in flower and fruit when temperatures surged, from apricots and barley to wheat and zucchini. Idaho farmers have documented how their potato yields have been knocked back because their heat-stressed plants are not developing their normal number of tubers. Across much of the region, temperatures on the surface of food and forage crops hit 105 degrees, at least 10 degrees higher than the threshold for most temperate-zone crops.

What’s more, when food and forage crops, as well as livestock, have had to endure temperatures 10 to 20 degrees higher than the long-term averages, they require far more water than usual. The Western drought, which has persisted for the last few years, has already diminished both surface water and groundwater supplies and increased energy costs, because of all the water that has to be pumped in from elsewhere.

From retaining moisture and nutrients in soils to reducing heat stress on crops and livestock, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land offers detailed diagrams, descriptions, and real-life examples of how you can implement these desert-adapted strategies for your backyard, farm, or orchard.

As more of North America is impacted by drought, this book is increasingly a necessity for any farmer or gardener, or even eaters who care about where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

Below is a chapter on how to reduce stress on crops and livestock.

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Chapter 5

In Memoir, Environmental Insider Calls for Radical Change

Monday, October 20th, 2014

As an influential figure in America’s environmental movement, Gus Speth can boast quite a remarkable resume–co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, founder of the World Resources Institute, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, environmental advisor to Presidents Carter and Clinton, and the list goes on.

Yet, as a southern gentleman, boasting isn’t really his style. Instead Speth prefers to acknowledge the long list of people that have helped him along the way—his “angels by the river, ” as he calls them.

Speth’s new memoir, Angels by the River, follows his unlikely path—from a Southern boyhood to his career as an influential mainstream environmentalist to his current system-changing activism. He explores the issues, and realities, that have shaped the nation since the 1950s, and that turned an “ultimate insider” into someone who now believes the US inaction on climate change is, as he puts it, “the greatest dereliction of civic responsibility in the history of the republic.”

If you are wondering how to make a difference in this increasingly complex world and looking for inspiration, let Gus Speth’s own life’s arc be a guide, and his clarion call for widespread system change be your call to action. Listen to his interview on Vermont Public Radio about his reflections on the environmental movement. Chelsea Green’s Shay Totten also sat down with Speth to talk about his new book and what it has been like to live his life on the front lines of change. See below for their conversation.

Angels by the River: A Memoir by James Gustave “Gus” Speth is on sale now.

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A Conversation with Author Gus Speth

ST: Let’s start with the title of the book – who are your angels, and what role did this river of your youth have in shaping your early thoughts about nature and life?

GS: Starting with a real river, the Edisto in the South Carolina lowcountry, I imagine my life as a journey down a river, and around almost every bend there have been angels waiting. It’s very clear to me that without the love, support and intense collaboration of the angels in my life, starting with my family, I would have gone off in some terribly wrong directions and many key things simply would not have happened. I wrote this memoir in large part to recognize these remarkable people.

Imagination aside, the Edisto, with its dark, tannin-stained waters and ample hardwood bottomland swamps, was where I first discovered the natural world, and girls.

ST: Your hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina was the scene of the horrific Orangeburg Massacre. That year, 1968, is often remembered as a pivotal year in US history. You were at Yale Law School at the time of the shootings, but you had been living in, and writing about, some of the tensions that preceded the shootings.

GS: In the mid 1960s I did what I could to support and encourage the moderate whites in Orangeburg to move forward on the civil rights demands of the town’s black community. And they did try, indeed try hard, but without success. I relate that story in the memoir.

Orangeburg had been a hotbed of resistance to racial progress since the early 1950s, and that continued through the 1960s. This situation helped set the stage for what happened there in 1968, a great national tragedy but one that has been little noticed outside the state, even today.

ST: Did attending a Northern school – Yale University and later Yale Law School – help to shape, or reshape, your views about the world, and in particular that of race? If so, how? What did you intend to study at Yale, and what did you end up studying?

GS: I devote a chapter in the memoir to what happened to me when I “went North” to school. The chapter is called “Things Fall Apart,” and at Yale my views on race, society, and the South did in fact come crashing down around me. As I explain in Angels by the River, that can be a terrifying experience, but I discovered in the end that that unmooring from the past was entirely liberating and that I was free to think afresh about the world. I realized also that I had uncritically accepted the status quo and that I never wanted to do that again.

I went to Yale to study science and was a biochemistry major for two years, but in the nick of time I realized I wasn’t getting a rounded liberal arts education and so switched to political science and later to an individualized curriculum Yale allowed me to create.

ST: You helped found the Natural Resources Defense Council. What was missing from the environmental movement at the time that the NRDC was created? Did it achieve what you had hoped?

GS: When big new causes open up, as happened for the environment in the late 1960s, there often occurs an intense period of institution building—a creative period when organizations rise to meet the occasion. In a chapter called “The Greening,” I describe how I and others, seeing the moment, were able to launch two much-needed environmental groups, NRDC and the World Resources Institute. Both are powerhouses today. I often joke that all my groups do better after I leave.

I shudder to think where we would be without the successes of our mainstream environmental groups, but it is obvious now that America’s mainstream environmentalism is not up to today’s environmental challenges, like climate change.

ST: What changed for you personally that led you, someone known for groundbreaking legal and policy work, to get arrested in front of the White House?

GS: In 2012 Wen Stephenson interviewed me for an online article and when it appeared, here was the title: “’Ultimate Insider’ Goes Radical.” I spend a generous portion of the memoir describing how a conservative, Southern white boy became a civilly disobedient, older, still white guy bent on transformative change to a new system of political economy. Among other things, we’ll need a new environmentalism in America to make this transition, one that is deeply committed not just to traditional environmental goals but also to challenging consumerism and commercialism and the lifestyles they offer, rejecting growthmania and pioneering a redefinition of what society should be striving to grow, challenging corporate dominance and seeking a redefinition of the corporation and its goals, joining the struggle for social justice and fairness, and launching a powerful assault on the anthropocentric and contempocentric values that currently dominate American culture.

To drive these deeper changes we’ll need a powerful movement and the rebirth of activism, protests, demonstrations, and sometimes civil disobedience.

Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Defending Beef makes the case that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and beef can and must be part of the solution.

In Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman — a longtime vegetarian — argues that cattle are neither inherently bad for the Earth nor is meat bad for our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe.

Hahn Niman, a former environmental attorney and activist, dispels popular myths about how eating beef is bad for our bodies. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false.  Grounded in empirical scientific data and with living examples from around the world the author shows how foods from cattle – milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass – are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system.

She also criticizes the modern, industrial food system — especially as it pertains to meat production — for being harmful to animals, the environment, and our health. Here’s a short excerpt from the book’s final analysis:

“I will be the first to agree that industrial methods for raising farm animals are indefensible, and I believe all people should join in rejecting them. Having seen it in all its gory details, I have no qualms about calling industrialized animal production a routinized form of animal torture. While Prohibitionists attacking innocent apple trees with axes seem absurd to us today, a lot of discussion over the ethics of meat eating likewise focuses on the wrong villain. Industrial animal production is rightly vilified; animal farming, on the other hand, is not.

What has really fostered my interest in the debate over meat eating is not a desire to encourage meat consumption but a longing for some nuance in the discussion. The issue is far from black-and-white, and polarized camps lobbing accusations at each other only hinder movement toward a better system. Building a food system that is more ecological and more humane is far more important to me than whether or not so-and-so is eating meat.

I believe the real issue is whether we humans are living up to our responsibilities of good stewardship of animals and the earth. Michael Pollan and others have proposed the idea that animals “chose” domestication based on a sort of “bargain” with humanity.  (…) However, it’s reasonable to assume, as well, that animals would never have opted for such an arrangement if torture had been part of the deal. Stated simply: By raising animals in factory farms, humans are violating their age-old contract with domesticated animals.

(…)

Individuals and groups are rightly concerned about adequate food supplies for the future. But they would do well to focus their attention on this imminent crisis, and on the way livestock are managed on the land, rather than on the absolute number of livestock, which has little significance. Properly managed grazing animals are an important part of the solution to feeding the world in the future.”

 For more from Defending Beef, click here to read the Preface and Introduction.

Chelsea Green Celebrates 30 Years of Craft and Cutting Edge Books

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

We here at Chelsea Green have always had a nose for authors and books that are years ahead of the cultural curve. That knack is clearly on display in a new anthology that we’re making available to celebrate our first thirty years in publishing.

More than one hundred books are represented in this collection and reflect the many distinct areas in which we have published—from literature and memoirs to progressive politics, to highly practical books on green building, organic gardening and farming, food and health, and related subjects—all of which reflect our underlying philosophy: “The politics and practice of sustainable living.”

The Chelsea Green Reader offers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list of books and authors and to the important ideas that they express. Interesting and worth reading in their own right, the individual passages when taken as a whole trace the evolution of a highly successful small publisher—something that is almost an oxymoron in these days of corporate buyouts and multinational book groups.

“I like to think of these brief excerpts as individual stones in a cairn. A cairn is a landmark, a pile of rocks built by hikers high above tree line in the mountains. It grows larger and larger over the years as new hikers passing by contribute a new stone, or replace one that might have fallen. A cairn is there to confirm, even on a foggy day, that we are on the right path, and it indicates the way forward, to the summit,” writes Senior Editor Ben Watson in the book’s preface.

“Every book is a stone, or a brick in the wall, of an edifice that is always being constructed, constantly evolving, and never quite finished. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a publishing company is colloquially referred to as a ‘house,’” Watson adds. “At Chelsea Green we continue to build, with our authors and their ideas, a great house, one that represents our deeply held values and beliefs, our hopes and our dreams.”CGP_grasshopper_olive green

From the beginning, Chelsea Green’s books were nationally recognized, garnering positive reviews, accolades, and awards. We’ve published four New York Times bestsellers, and our books have set the standard for in-depth, how-to books that remain relevant years—often decades—beyond their original publication date. Books in this volume range from ones that appeared in our very first catalog in 1985 (and remain in print today) to ones that have long since gone out of print, but not forgotten as important touchstones for us as a publisher.

“Chelsea Green was born from a single seed: the beauty of craft. Craft in writing and editing, in a story well told, or a thesis superbly expressed,” writes cofounder and publisher emeritus Ian Baldwin in the book’s Foreword.

This attention to craft has even informed our business model: In 2012, Chelsea Green became an employee-owned company as a way to “practice what we publish” and lay the groundwork to ensure that the founders’ legacy remained intact in the decades to follow.

The move made Chelsea Green unique among book publishers in an industry dominated by investor-driven, multinational corporations. Only a handful of independent book publishers can claim employee-ownership status, and of those Chelsea Green will be near the top in terms of the percentage controlled by employees.

With the rise of the Internet, new media platforms, and a constantly shifting bookselling landscape, the future of publishing is anything but predictable. But if Chelsea Green’s books prove anything, it is that, despite these challenges, there remains a hunger for new and important ideas and authors, and for the permanence and craftsmanship of the printed word. Today our ongoing mission is stronger than ever, as we launch into our next thirty years of publishing excellence.

“People are moved by what they read,” adds Baldwin in his Foreword. “That pertains whether they read an ebook or a printed one, and they want to connect with the writers who make their lives richer. Part of the publisher’s role is to help make this vitalizing connection. This nexus among author, publisher, and reader is, I believe, unlikely to wither anytime soon.”

Grow Mushrooms on Your Jeans. Seriously.

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Thinking about getting rid of that pair of worn out jeans? Think again. You could use them to grow mushrooms. That’s right, mushrooms.

Mycologist Tradd Cotter has been experimenting with mushroom cultivation for more than 20 years. Through his ongoing research he has not only discovered the best ways to successfully grow morels but also how to use fungi to help manage invasive species and reduce our dependence on herbicides. How Cotter figured out that mushrooms could be grown on old clothing perfectly illustrates how he’s constantly finding ways to learn from our fungi friends.

In the excerpt below from his new book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, Cotter provides an easy, step-by-step outline of how anyone can grow oyster mushrooms using the most unlikeliest of materials – a pair of jeans.

Don’t have a lot of space? Not a problem. Oyster mushrooms are perfect for fruiting indoors and in small spaces. All you need for this fun(gi) project is some clothing scraps, water, a plastic bag or container, and a little mushroom mycelium.

Happy mushrooming!

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Cultivating Mushrooms on Clothing

By Tradd Cotter

I started growing mushrooms on clothes when I first became interested in mycoremediation of waste dyes and pigments. There was a textile mill near our farm that manufactured denim for the production of jeans and other clothing. My wife Olga and I went to the mill one day and were greeted by a few friendly folks. I told them I was interested in remediating the indigo carmine they were allowed to release into the waterway based on EPA daily allowable standards. They looked at me a bit nervously, as if I were a whistle-blowing undercover environmentalist; picking up on that, I quickly told them about my mycoremediation research and passions. The man I was speaking to happened to be the owner, and he was excited to hear about the prospect of lessening the mill’s environmental impact. The following week I decided to grow mushrooms on old jeans to see if they could decolorize the indigo carmine that makes them blue.

My first experiment was a success, with oyster mushrooms colonizing and fruiting very well on old cotton jeans, but the decolorization of the indigo carmine that I expected was not evident. Turkey tail mushrooms and a few other species are more efficient at the decolorization process, but what I learned is that old cotton clothing can support fruiting oyster mushrooms. (This could be potentially valuable survival information for anyone directly impacted by a natural disaster, where there is a huge amount of debris, but food is scarce.) Old cotton shirts, bits of rugs, hemp and sisal rope—any material composed of natural plant fibers, including cotton, hemp, and bamboo, can be used to cultivate mushrooms. It only needs water and a bit of oyster mushroom mycelium to get started.

Step-By-Step Cultivation on Clothing

Step 1. Soak the clothing in fresh water. The water does not have to be sterile or clean, only free of heavy metals.

Step 2. Flatten the clothing on a surface. Sprinkle the mushroom starter culture over the surface sparingly. Remember, more spawn will speed the process, not necessarily produce more mushrooms.

Step 3. Roll the clothing tightly, or if you have more than one article of clothing, stack it in spawned layers. Place the clothing in a plastic bag or an enclosed container with a few holes.

Step 4. Check the moisture content of the clothing every few days during colonization to make sure the fabric does not dry out; mist or water it as needed. Room temperature or cooler is perfectly fine for colonizing clothing scraps.

Step 5. When the entire mass of clothing seems to have been completely colonized by the mycelium, increase ventilation by adding more holes or cracking the lid of the container, but not enough that the clothing will quickly dry out. Keep the surfaces misted slightly to induce mushroom formation. The colonization process can vary from one to two weeks depending on how much spawn you use. At this point the mushrooms are not interested in fruiting so no light is needed to promote primordia formation.

Step 6. Once mushrooms begin to appear, which can occur a few days to weeks after colonization depending on temperatures and spawn amount used, they will double in size every day. Mist as frequently as needed to keep the mushrooms from drying out at a young state. When the mushrooms stop growing, they are ready to harvest.

 

Carbon Shock-onomics: Climate and the Economy

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Millions of people take to the streets this weekend around the world — with tens of thousands headed to New York City for the People’s Climate March — to show that people want action from global leaders, not more talk when it comes to responding to the growing climate crisis.

Investigative journalist Mark Schapiro, author of Carbon Shock, has pulled together some key facts that all climate marchers should know about the climate and the economy — today, and going forward as climate talks take shape next year in Paris.

carbon-shockTHE COSTS
Climate change is the biggest economic challenge of our times. The world’s two biggest economies—the US and Europe—estimate hundreds of billions of dollars in costs from heat waves, floods, and an accelerating wave of climate refugees fleeing lands on which they can no longer sustain themselves.

WHO PAYS?
The public takes the risk and the fossil fuel intensive industries make the profits. That’s why the true costs of fossil fuels are called ‘externalized’ costs—costs that are often hidden through dishonest, but perfectly legal, accounting. Who pays those costs? Taxpayers. You and me.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? The Companies
Just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. Three thousand of the world’s biggest companies cause $2.15 trillion in annual environmental costs, most of those relating to climate change, according to a UN report.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? The Consumers
A quarter of China’s greenhouse gases can be attributed to the production of goods for export to the US and Europe. Who is responsible for those emissions: the producer or the consumer?

THE TRADE WARS
The first climate trade war is being fought by the US, China & Russia against Europe, over the European Union’s effort to regulate greenhouse gases coming from airplanes, which contribute more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than any other form of transportation.

FOOD & WATER
Two of the greatest threats to the US government’s finances are the looming costs of the federally subsidized crop insurance system, due to climate-related drought and intensifying heat, and flood insurance.

AN OIL SPILL A DAY
Whether greenhouse gases are emitted from a car’s gas tank in New York or a gushing oil rig off the Louisiana coast, to the planet it’s the same: We’re letting loose an oil spill a day into the atmosphere. Every conventional U.S car comes with $2,000 in greenhouse gas-related lifetime costs, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WHAT WE MUST DO
Honest accounting: Set a global price for carbon to reflect its damage to the planet. Take the green dividend and invest in a low-carbon, equitable, economy that supports renewable energy, local food, public transportation, and livable communities.

 

Climate March Poster by Shepard Fairey

Take it Slow: 15 Life Lessons from a Unicyclist

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

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

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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…

What Can Humans Learn from Bears?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

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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