You already know that I don’t consider myself an environmentalist (I mentioned that when I recommended two books in honor of Earth Day – April 22).
I do love fresh air, fresh fruits and vegetables, rock climbing, water bottles, and other things that an eco-friendly person would like…and I must confess that I was a vegetarian several years ago.
I eat organic fruits and vegetables when the price difference is reasonable though I refuse to buy “cage free” or “free range” eggs. I am quite interested in the Certified Humane Raised & Handled label for meats and would probably buy such meat if it was more readily available in grocery stores.
I do make an effort to recycle and I prefer to re-use if possible. I also prefer to walk (rather than drive) and I car-pool as often as possible. And I’ve replaced most of the bulbs in my house with CFLs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs).
So am much I deny being an environmentalist, I suppose I do try to live a “sustainable” and “green” lifestyle.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan – Published in 2006 and named one of the best ten books of 2006 by the New York Times Book Review, this book explores the question “What should we have for dinner?” by following four meals, each derived through a different food-production system, from their origins to the plate. Along the way, Pollan examines the ethical, political, and ecological factors that are intertwined in the industrial, large-scale organic, small-scale organic, and personal (hunted-gathered) food chains, while describing the environmental, economic, health, and moral consequences that result from our food choices within these chains.
I’ve heard so much about this book and am excited to read it, though I think I am more excited to read Pollan‘s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (also reviewed by the NYTimes Book Review). I expect both books espouse the “you are what you eat” philosophy. I’ve enjoyed hearing Pollan speak on NPR and watching him on C-SPAN and I hope his books live up to my expectations.
Click here to read the introduction and first chapter of The Omnivore’s Dilemma on the author’s website. And click here to read the introduction of In Defense of Food on the author’s website or here to read the first chapter on the NYTimes Book Review website.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver – Kingsolver is the much praised author of Prodigal Summer (which I bought at a Library Book Sale recently), The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, Small Wonder, among other best-sellers.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (published in May 2007) is Kingsolver‘s first non-fiction book and it is a memoir of how Kingsolver‘s family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the place where we live. Barbara wrote the central narrative; Steven‘s sidebars dig deeper into various aspects of food-production science and industry; Camille’s brief essays offer a nineteen-year-old’s perspective on the local-food project, plus nutritional information, meal plans and recipes.
I haven’t gotten into the whole locally grown food thing though I have been meaning to join a Community Supported Agriculture for years now (since 2004). I don’t know why I haven’t done it yet, there are so many CSAs in Maryland. Maybe reading this book will finally give me the initiative to join a CSA and/or to plant a fruit and vegetable garden!
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben – Bill McKibben is a self-proclaimed environmentalist. McKibben believes that that we need to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal — makes me think of Burlingham‘s Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big (which I wrote about here) –and pursue prosperity locally, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food (like joining a CSA), generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.
As McKibben‘s website says of Deep Economy (published in 2007), “He shows this concept blossoming around the world with striking results, from the burgeoning economies of India and China to the more mature societies of Europe and New England. For those who worry about environmental threats, he offers a route out of the worst of those problems; for those who wonder if there isn’t something more to life than buying, he provides the insight to think about one’s life as an individual and as a member of a larger community.”
I don’t know what to expect of this book; I’m a little afraid that it’ll be too environmentalist-preachy for me but I’m still looking forward to reading McKibben‘s ideas for improving our future.
Here’s to Baltimore Green Week – helping to make the Baltimore region cleaner and environmentally safer by living a sustainable lifestyle!