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The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farmingby Masanobu Fukuoka
Synopses & Reviews
Masanobu Fukuoka’s book about growing food has been changing the lives of readers since it was first published in 1978. It is a call to arms, a manifesto, and a radical rethinking of the global systems we rely on to feed us all. At the same time, it is the memoir of a man whose spiritual beliefs underpin and inform every aspect of his innovative farming system.
Equal parts farmer and philosopher, Fukuoka is recognized as one of the founding thinkers of the permaculture movement. But when he was twenty-five, he was just another biologist taking advantage of the unprecedented development of postwar Japan. Then a brush with death shattered his complacency. He quit his job and returned to his family farm. Over the decades that followed, Fukuoka perfected his so-called “do-nothing” technique, a way of farming that dispenses with both modern agribusiness practices and centuries of folk wisdom, replacing them with a system that seeks to work with nature rather than make it over through increasingly elaborate–and often harmful –methods. Fukuoka developed commonsense, sustainable practices that all but eliminated the use of pesticides, fertilizer, tillage, and the wasteful effort associated with them–and his yields matched those of neighboring factory farms. His farm became a gathering place for people from all over the world who wished to adapt his ways to their own local cultures.
Now, more than thirty years after they were first published, Fukuoka’s teachings are more relevant and necessary than ever.
Call it "Zen and the Art of Farming" or a "Little Green Book," Masanobu Fukuoka's manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge presents aradical challenge to the global systems we rely on for our food. At the same time, it is a spiritual memoir of a man whose innovative system of cultivating the earth reflects a deep faith in the wholeness and balance ofthe natural world. As Wendell Berry writes in his preface, the book "is valuable to us because it is at once practical and philosophical. It is an inspiring, necessary book about agriculture because it is notjust about agriculture."
Trained as a scientist, Fukuoka rejected both modern agribusiness and centuries of agricultural practice, deciding instead that the best forms of cultivation mirrornature's own laws. Over the next three decades he perfected his so-called "do-nothing" technique: commonsense, sustainable practices that all but eliminate the use of pesticides, fertilizer, tillage, and perhaps most significantly, wasteful effort.
Whether you're a guerrilla gardener or a kitchen gardener, dedicated to slow food or simply looking to live a healthier life, you willfind something here--you may even be moved to start a revolution of your own.
About the Author
Masanobu Fukuoka (1913–2008) was born and raised on the Japanese island of Shikoku. He was the oldest son of a rice farmer who was also the local mayor. Fukuoka studied plant pathology and worked for number of years as a produce inspector in the customs office in Yokohama. But in 1938 he returned to his village home determined to put his ideas about natural farming into practice. During World War II, he worked for the Japanese government as a researcher on food production, managing to avoid military service until the final few months of the war. After the war, he returned to Shikoku to devote himself wholeheartedly to farming. And in 1975, distressed by the effects of Japan’s post-war modernization, Fukuoka wrote The One-Straw Revolution. In his later years, Fukuoka was involved with several projects to reduce desertification throughout the world. He remained an active farmer until well into his eighties, and continued to give lectures until only a few years before his death at the age of ninety-five. Fukuoka is also the author of The Natural Way of Farming and The Road Back to Nature. In 1988 he received the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.
Frances Moore Lappé is author or co-author of sixteen books, including Diet for a Small Planet and Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad. She has co-founded three organizations, including the Institute for Food and Development Policy and, more recently, the Small Planet Institute, which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. In 1987, she received the Right Livelihood Award, also called the “Alternative Nobel.” She has received seventeen honorary doctorates and has been a visiting scholar at MIT.
Table of Contents
Introduction --- Preface --- Editor's Introduction --- Notes on the translation --- PART I. Look at this Grain — Nothing at All — Returning to the Country — Toward a Do-Nothing Farming — Returning to the Source — One Reason Natural Farming Has Not Spread — Humanity Does not Know Nature --- PART II. Four Principles of Natural Farming — Farming Among the Weeds — Farming with Straw — Growing Rice in a Dry Field — Orchard Trees — Orchard Earth — Growing Vegetables like Wild Plants — The Terms for Abandoning Chemicals — Limits of the Scientific Method --- PART III. One Farmer Speaks Out — A Modest Solution to a Difficult Problem — The Fruit of Hard Times — The Marketing of Natural Food — Commercial Agriculture Will Fail — Research for Whose Benefit? — What is Human Food? — A Merciful Death for Barley — Simply Serve Nature and All is Well — Various Schools of Natural Farming --- PART IV. Confusion About Food — Nature's Food Mandala — The Culture of food — Living by Bread Alone — Summing up Diet — Food and Farming --- PART V. Foolishness Comes Out Looking Smart — Who is the Fool? — I Was Born To Go to Nursery School — Drifting Clouds and the Illusion of Science — The Theory of Relativity — A Village Without War and Peace — The One-Straw Revolution.
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