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2 Burnside Sustainable Living- Food

This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader

by

This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader Cover

ISBN13: 9781890132941
ISBN10: 1890132942
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Joan Dye Gussow is an extraordinarily ordinary woman. She lives in a home not unlike the average home in a neighborhood that is, more or less, typically suburban. What sets her apart from the rest of us is that she thinks more deeply — and in more eloquent detail — about food. In sharing her ponderings, she sets a delightful example for those of us who seek the healthiest, most pleasurable lifestyle within an environment determined to propel us in the opposite direction. Joan is a suburbanite with a green thumb, but also a feisty, defiant spirit with a relentlessly positive outlook.

This Organic Life begins with Joan and her husband Alan's trials and tribulations growing vegetables for their own table while coping with careers and a sprawling Victorian house in Congers, New York. Motivated to go "off-the-grid" of the global food system in their later years, the Gussows find and fall in love with a dilapidated Odd Fellows Hall on the banks of the Hudson River. Joan's often hilarious accounts of the "renovation" of the "dream" (some would say "nightmare") house and the creation of their new gardens are spiced by extracts from her own journal, and over thirty wonderful recipes using fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

There is also an occasional pontification about a food distribution system run amok! At the heart of This Organic Life is the premise that locally grown food eaten in season makes sense economically, ecologically, and gastronomically. Transporting produce to New York from California — not to mention Central and South America, Australia, or Europe — consumes more energy in transit than it yields in calories. (It costs 435 fossil fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York.) Add in the deleterious effects of agribusiness, such as the endless cycle of pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizers; the loss of topsoil from erosion of over-tilled croplands; depleted aquifers and soil salinization from over-irrigation; and the arguments in favor of "this organic life" become overwhelmingly convincing.

Review:

"This is the most important book I've read in a long while. Full of hope, kindness, and arresting wisdom, it will serve as a valuable guide to anyone who wants to live more thoughtfully on the only planet that feeds us. For many years, as I've worked hard to raise some of my family's food and attend closely to the sources of the rest of it, doubtful observers have asked me why I bother, when stores nearby sell anything in any season, cheaply. I've struggled to explain that this effort is for me a matter of moral responsibility. From now on I'll simply hand them a copy of This Organic Life." Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible

Review:

"This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader...[is] a passionate tale of house building and gardening as floods, droughts, insects and vermin periodically devastate [the Gussows'] crops." The New York Times

Review:

"It's very rare to be moved by a gardening book, but This Organic Life has an uncommon depth of feeling, not in the prose, which is plain-speaking, and not in its philosophical aspirations, which are more economic than spiritual. There is something happily, almost chaotically jumbled — and thus lifelike — about the way this book proceeds: a flood, a recipe, a death, a recipe, a community garden, a recipe. What ties it all together isn't merely Gussow's passion for making herself useful. It's her understanding that 'the production and consumption of fresh local food is so rich an experience for me that I find it hard to imagine how I would live if I couldn't grow what I eat and eat what I grow.'" Verlyn Klinkenborg, The New York Times

Book News Annotation:

Dye's memoir of leaving New York City to create a new life in a town on the Hudson River will appeal to other, similar folks who are craving a change from their urban lifestyle, do-it-yourselfers who have bought dilapidated old houses, and gardeners who will empathize with her battle tales of varmints and weeds. Dye draws on journal entries to fill out the emotional aspect of this personal history and includes a number of recipes featuring produce from the vegetable garden.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

A woman with a decidedly green thumb, Gussow's book describes her quest to grow an organic garden that will totally provide for her family, thus eliminating store bought, foreign produced foods from their life. 30 recipes.

About the Author

A highly acclaimed nutritionist whose work has been published in Country Journal and Annals of Earth, Joan Dye Gussow is living testimony that eating well year-round from an average-sized lot in the suburbs of Piermont, New York, is both possible and desirable. To live this civilized version of "the good life" involves no sacrifice of variety or taste, and only enhances life's sensual pleasures and one's mental outlook.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

veggielady, August 12, 2007 (view all comments by veggielady)
I thought the book was wonderful!! A mix of journal, editorial, how-to, and just a good story. Joan's opinions are her own and while I shared some and understood many, I didn't agreee with all, but appreciated all. The book made me think much more seriously about "our" environment, not just "mine", and did leave me feeling a bit hopeless at times. However, I feel much more empowered and enthusiastic about my own food and lifestyle choices, and will definately continue my own efforts at increasing my own self reliance on the little patch of earth I call my garden. Thank you Joan!
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Corina, November 6, 2006 (view all comments by Corina)
"This Organic Life" is a memoir, an instructional gardening book, and a discussion of our food industry. The memoir part is somewhat interesting, as Gussow copes with aging, moving, and the death of her husband, but there are perhaps too many details about the purchase of her new home, which had to be torn down and rebuilt. The instructional aspect could have been more developed. While she does elaborate on planning her garden and seed order, she leaves out valuable how-to on a lot of the actual physical work. Her views on the food industry were my favorite part, but they mainly came at the end of the book. Her ideas on relocalizing food were inspirational, but her argument against vegetarianism had some pretty big holes. Throughout, she has a tone of self-righteousness that is less than endearing. I found her personality distracting, and it made me like this book less. Since I was interested in reading more about the food system than about an 80 year old woman's praise of herself and her lifestyle, I felt let down. Also, the title is misleading, as she focuses more on local food than organic food, and even admits to buying non-organic food. Overall, I learned a few things, but I really didn't think it was a very good book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781890132941
Subtitle:
Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader
Author:
Gussow, Joan Dye
Publisher:
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
Location:
White River Junction, VT
Subject:
Cookery
Subject:
Vegetables
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Cookery (vegetables)
Subject:
Organic
Subject:
Vegetable gardening
Subject:
Organic gardening
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series:
A real goods solar living book
Series Volume:
no. 24
Publication Date:
June 2001
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9.34x6.33x.94 in. 1.37 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Home and Garden » Gardening » Organic Gardening
Home and Garden » Sustainable Living » Food

This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader Used Hardcover
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING COMPANY - English 9781890132941 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This is the most important book I've read in a long while. Full of hope, kindness, and arresting wisdom, it will serve as a valuable guide to anyone who wants to live more thoughtfully on the only planet that feeds us. For many years, as I've worked hard to raise some of my family's food and attend closely to the sources of the rest of it, doubtful observers have asked me why I bother, when stores nearby sell anything in any season, cheaply. I've struggled to explain that this effort is for me a matter of moral responsibility. From now on I'll simply hand them a copy of This Organic Life."
"Review" by , "This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader...[is] a passionate tale of house building and gardening as floods, droughts, insects and vermin periodically devastate [the Gussows'] crops."
"Review" by , "It's very rare to be moved by a gardening book, but This Organic Life has an uncommon depth of feeling, not in the prose, which is plain-speaking, and not in its philosophical aspirations, which are more economic than spiritual. There is something happily, almost chaotically jumbled — and thus lifelike — about the way this book proceeds: a flood, a recipe, a death, a recipe, a community garden, a recipe. What ties it all together isn't merely Gussow's passion for making herself useful. It's her understanding that 'the production and consumption of fresh local food is so rich an experience for me that I find it hard to imagine how I would live if I couldn't grow what I eat and eat what I grow.'"
"Synopsis" by , A woman with a decidedly green thumb, Gussow's book describes her quest to grow an organic garden that will totally provide for her family, thus eliminating store bought, foreign produced foods from their life. 30 recipes.
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