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This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader [Paperback]

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Item description for This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow, Christina Unger, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Kenneth King, Yvonne Meier, Sarah Skaggs & Douglas Dunn...

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 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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2002
Publisher   Chelsea Green Publishing Company
ISBN  1931498245  
ISBN13  9781931498241  

Availability  0 units.

More About Joan Dye Gussow, Christina Unger, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Kenneth King, Yvonne Meier, Sarah Skaggs & Douglas Dunn

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joan Gussow is a highly acclaimed nutrition educator who has demonstrated that year-round eating from 1,000 square feet in a suburban riverfront village is possible, life-sustaining, and delicious. She is the author of This Organic Life, The Feeding Web, and Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables, and is Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emerita and former chair of the Columbia University Teachers College Nutrition Department. She lives on the Hudson River in Piermont, New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Gardening & Horticulture > General
2Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Gardening & Horticulture > Techniques > Organic

Reviews - What do customers think about This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader?

A bit disappointed  Jan 21, 2008
I was hoping for a lot more organic gardening information. I agree with an earlier reviewer who said this book could have used some good editing to help make the content more concise, especially regarding the building the new house parts. It seems to jump back and forth and repeats much. Gets tedious at times.
A diary  Jan 8, 2008
It's been a while since I have read this, but if I remember correctly, she mentions early on that this book is more of a diary or memoir of her life than a "how-to" gardening book. I like her rambling style, she is telling the story of her life, and this is how such stories are told. For those who want a "how-to" book, there are many others. This book gives you more of reason why to garden and eat locally and the reality of doing so.

Also, those that are upset by the fact that she has no problem killing possums that are in her yard miss the big picture. Animals have to die for us to eat. Even if you are a vegetarian, farmers kill animals that might eat our food. Whether they are using chemical pesticides or outright killing the pest, they will die. I love animals. I even like possums and think they are cute. But, they are pests and can destroy a garden. If that garden provided you with everything you ate, would you be willing to share?
Inspiring and down to earth  Nov 20, 2007
It's an okay read, and expresses the passion of gardening and eating local; and the normal successes and failures of food production, which you don't generally get from how-to gardening books. Strongly recommended for anyone with a dream of growing their own food! But as an experienced gardener I didn't really learn anything.

Unlike some reviewers, I think her musing on vegetarianism and killing varmints are a good effort to grapple with a hard topic; and seriously growing food brings you closer to the realities than the vast majority dependent on markets and stores. Personally, since she eats meat sometimes (several recipes call for sausage), it seems a bit defensive.
very good  Aug 7, 2006
I haven't spent much time looking at the recipes & I'll admit I skipped a few boring(in my eyes) paragraphs here & there.
However I'm growing my first organic garden this year & the reason is similar to Joan's. I don't want to rely on industry for everything. I would like to be able to provide some of the basics for my family. I found the story of her life very motivating. I also know a little bit about the area she lives in & I think she did a terrific job describing it.
This book most certainly inspires me to raise the bar in my organic garden and I will buy locally.
I know some people didn't enjoy her home building sections, but I found them interesting & sometimes funny.
Not so much about organic gardening  Jul 25, 2006
I have really enjoyed this book and felt a kindred relationship with the author. I too have gutted a house and had a garden in full swing at the same time. I loved the recipes that went along with her stories of vegetables and fruits and enjoyed the passages about her homes.

This book is a good read if you are not expecting much information about Organic gardening but instead a story of the authors life and how it revolves around her garden.

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