Good Dirt: Summer Reading

Last week’s article struck a chord and I appreciate all the new viewership on this website.  As I planned some time ago, I’m going to follow my prescription for my clients and devote the next few weeks to some relaxation and rejuvenation.  To all the new readers, please use this time to check out and share my ongoing Food Done Right series.  The choices we make can honor the Earth and honor ourselves as part of the ecosystem rather than manipulators of it.

Summer reading can be meaningful and can rock your world.  It need not be mindless.  Between the Internet, endless television channels, and popcorn movies, how much more escapism do we really need?  A dose of reality could hit the spot on a lazy day beneath a tree or soaking your feet in the sand.

Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair by Carlo Petrini The concept of “slow food” came to prominence after a profile in “In Praise of Slowness.”  Petrini, who has written a technical missive about gastronomy, is much more accessible here.  Playing off the book title “Fast Food Nation,” this one provides the antidote for the food choices that ail Western society and are being exported worldwide, leading to disease and poor nutrition.  In the wake of the United States Senate kneeling before the Inadequacy Industry about labeling genetically modified foods (money talks to Democrats and Republicans alike), we’re really left on our own.  Petrini, as with all the so-called “foodies” out there, notes that we should look for simple, identifiable foods.  Fruits and veggies are labeled as genetically modified and organic meats cannot be fed transgenic grains (or ask your local farmer about his practices in the event s/he cannot afford certification).  Ditching the boxed and bagged foods all together with help keep GMOs off the plate.  This book will plead that case to you.

The Male Herbal by James Green It’s a weird happenstance.  The American herbal community, in a way, is dominated by male voices.  Yet there are very few works dedicated to applying herbalism to men’s concerns.  When I was in graduate school, we spent a few hours on male issues while spending class upon class on female concerns.  I joked that we needed a uterus to attend these classes, so my classmates bought me and the other guys stuffed toy uteri.  This book digs deeply into the male experience and the high cost of machismo.  It offers practical advice on treating the oft-tight lipped suffering male of American culture, breaking down the air of purported strength in being the silent type.

Change Comes to Dinner by Katherine Gustafson:  I have Kate’s book on order and I am looking forward to reading it as much as you should be.  She’s a college friend, so I know it would be disingenuous to post an aloof review that makes it look like I don’t have a stake in rooting for someone I know to do well.  The reviews from all the well-known folks in the slow, local, and sustainable food world have been exemplary.  She highlights people around the U.S. who are doing food right, impacting their local communities to change the American relationship to food sourcing and supplies one fork and smiling mouth at a time.  Kate and I had lost touch as people who didn’t grow up in the Facebook era do.  Then one day, I was flipping through my copy of Yes! and there she was.  Her direct, accessible style has won her some awards and make for enjoyable reading.

The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer:   Many of the holiday traditions of religious orders grew out of or co-opted Earth-based pagan spirituality.  Christmas trees, Easter bunnies, and the like all have roots in paganism.  Ancient tongues and mysterious rituals can be difficult to decipher and many of the guidebooks fail to provide easy entry into understanding them.  This book is elementary, covering history, untangling the language barrier, and providing applications the novice can practice on their own to connect more deeply to nature.  Use it to make your religious traditions deeper, to complement your unique spiritual path, or to have some outdoor fun.

Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?  by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, and Martin Zucker. In the first installment of “Good Dirt,” I raved about the tingly feeling I got when I started Earthing.  The concept is about a decade old, though rooted in our genetic codes for countless generations.  Only recently, in planetary terms, have we so divorced ourselves from the planet.  We insulate from weather, other people, water, and dirt.  Though we are of the Earth, we have sequestered ourselves away.  The science behind Earthing shows that these actions have contributed to the rampant illness we see in our society.  The electrical charge of the planet reduces inflammation, the building block of hosts of Western sickness.  Discovered by accident, Earthing could be part of a healthy regimen to restore and rejuvenate where we are now waning.  This book combines anecdotes and medical evidence of this planet’s healing powers.

Get outside.  Eat fresh, properly grown food.  Take naps.  Laugh.  And read some books that will carry the spirit of the planet into your everyday life.

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