17 April 2014

Book Review and Giveaway - Real Dirt: An Ex-Industrial Farmer's Guide to Sustainable Eating



Real Dirt is different from most books about sustainability. After all, author Harry Stoddart, who has a BS in Agriculture and an MS in Agricultural Economics, has farmed at both ends of the spectrum. He's done CAFO and pasture-raised, till and no-till, conventional and organic. He takes a realistic look at the pros and cons of every agricultural method out there and asks us to use a critical eye and look at the complete food system.

"The single biggest change you can make to improve your diet and your impact on the future is to start cooking your own meals. ... When you cook, you are in control of your diet and the future of food production and the planet." ~ Harry Stoddart 

Note: The author has a terrific sense of humor, too, making this a fun as well as informative read; though that might not come through in this review. 

If you have gone organic as much as you possibly can (as I have), that's good. But Stoddart believes organic principles are only the starting point for lessening agriculture's impact. Two out of three of what Stoddart calls The Big Three issues--antibiotic resistance, erosion and climate disruption--are not adequately dealt with by all organic farmers. 

"Conservation of soil and water do not automatically flow from an organic choice. You will need to understand the production methods used on the farm before you can make a fully informed choice." There is a thought-provoking list of questions to ask of even organic farmers. 

Real Dirt gives us guiding principles to help us make choices in favor of true sustainability. Are we buying from farmers working to conserve water and conserve and/or rebuild soil? Of course, I disagree with a couple of methods Stoddart espouses: using sewage sludge on crops and drinking recycled sewer water. Uh uh, I'm just not ready to go there! 

"If you don't cook but only reheat processed food, you are putting your diet and health in the hands of someone else." ~ Harry Stoddart

There are many ways we can work toward a better food system. Some people think that unless they are working to influence legislation they cannot make a difference. Stoddart says: "The quickest transformation to sustainable methods will not occur through legislation. The greatest lever we can pull to shift agriculture is the power of the consumer."




Real Dirt Book Giveaway

This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada who are 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person) and please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday April 23.

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday April 24. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday April 27, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

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Real Dirt is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

Disclosure: The author is providing the book for this giveaway. I have received no compensation. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!


Disclosure: Some posts include links to my Amazon.com affiliate account, and Delightful Repast earns a few cents on the dollar if readers make a purchase, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

23 comments:

Joanne Young said...

I appreciate that not only do you share your lovely recipes, but you care how the ingredients are grown.
Thank you for bringing attention to this enlightening book!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks for your kind words, Joanne!

Christine said...

Moving to this farm has really changed the way I think about food and sustainability. We never even considered living on a farm until we found a house that just happened to come with one. Now, we have an organic garden, raise our own meat and chickens, and actually hang our clothes on a line as often as possible. I love our new way of living.
It sounds like I could learn quite a bit from this author!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Christine, I love reading about your adventures on the farm!

Angie Schneider said...

Drinking recycled sewer water would be a challenge for me too. This sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing and the giveaway.
Have a lovely day!
Angie

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Angie! May the water crisis never get *that bad!

Richard Sheppard said...

An apple use to be a an apple but not anymore! Everything we buy at the supermarket is a vote that our food supply move in one direction or another. Sounds like the author understands this and is pointing in the right direction. Sounds like an interesting read!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Richard! Yes, you will love this book.

sarah willis said...

Nice review, I agree that consumers drive the market with their purchasing choices. Vote with your fork and support the type of agriculture you would like to see.

Tony Grant said...

"I disagree with a couple of methods Stoddart espouses: using sewage sludge on crops and drinking recycled sewer water. Uh uh, I'm just not ready to go there!"
Well, i don't know about the Staes but here in britain I thought that is what happens. Wtare is recycled through, wtare pruification prcesses, it is recycled through rivers and the water cycle as a whole. they say the amount of water on Erath has not chnged since water was first formed. We all drink water that has probably been recycled millions and millions of times.
jean, what does he say about growing your own fruit and vegetables? We have allotments, begun first during the first world war and now seen as a healthy growing and eating option. It is an environmental issue but also many people here grow their own vegetables and fruit in their back gardens. I am thinking of developing my vegetable patch.
This is not an unusual thing to do here. All the best, Tony Sounds like an interesting book. I wonder if he does a version for us Brits???

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Sarah. I love voting with my fork!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Tony, of course you're right, all water is "recycled" water; but here we're talking about water going straight from the sewer to the sewage treatment plant and being purified. No thanks! This book applies in the UK as well as US and Canada, it's just that the giveaway is limited. But you can probably order the book, in either print or digital format, through Amazon UK.

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Is the book edible? Yah-ha-ha! Just jazzin’ you. Well, why not a book review? What can be more relevant than that when the book goes to the heart of food and consumption? And, of course, your objective approach is a perfect fit. That said, I’m ready to drink and eat whatever has been purified to scientifically acceptable standards. It really isn’t any different than nature’s cycles on a planet that is constantly spewing its elements hither and yon. Glad you cited the three major focuses in the author’s approach, which I think is very helpful for readers trying to assess their own interest.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Sully. Glad *you* are prepared to drink recycled sewer water! I'm going to stay squeamish until I have no other choice!

Tony Grant said...

Jean, if we were to be 100% organic and use recycling to its full potential and be zero energy, our homes would be very different from what they are now. Building projects in this country and I am sure in the States, are progressing in this way already. Our house would be built from locally resourced materials and recycled materials, wind, sun, flowing water and underground heat extraction would provide our energy requirements. Water purification processes using natural ponds and filter beds as garden features to recycle rainwater, urine and solid excrement would be great for the environment too. This process would also help to manure our vegetable plot. Of course we would need to grow our own vegetables and have a few chickens and perhaps a pig. Factories can be built with much lower energy needs too. The UK and the USA would have minimal energy needs. All that gas, oil and coal production that harms our planet could be reduced to a minimum and would we be so much healthier , fitter and happier? Imagine the novels , the music and poetry that would be written then? But I digress.
Aldous Huxley wrote, A BRAVE NEW WORLD. Perhaps this could be our Brave New World.
(Just having a chuckle to myself as everybody’s imaginations start working at a 100mph!!!!)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Tony, yes, there is so much more that could be done, and quite easily!

Liz Berg said...

Sounds like an important read! Thanks for offering the giveaway!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Yes, it is, Liz! And it's amusing in spots, too!

Pat said...

I'm right there with you on the sewer water. Ugh! LOL

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Pat! Let's not resort to that until we reallyreallyreally *have* to!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

*Giveaway Winner Announced* - The winner, by random drawing, of the Real Dirt book is Richard Sheppard. Richard, as soon as you send me, delightfulrepast at aol dot com, your name, address and phone number (required by shipper), author Harry Stoddart will ship the book to you. Congratulations!

If I don't hear from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday, April 27, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from among the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Watch for my next giveaway! In the meantime, follow me on Google and Twitter (@delightfulrepas) and Pinterest (@delightfulrepas). You can even use the Follow Me By Email button in the right column.

Harry Stoddart said...

If you think about the recycled water suggestion, after you get past the "ick" factor, you'll find the logic is sound. The quality of water leaving a sewage treatment plant is much purer than the water entering a water intake from surface water sources. If you live downstream from another town, you are already getting sewage plant water in your intake pipe.

The nutrients in sewage have to be recycled to create a truly sustainable food system. The only question is what do we have to do to current sewage to be able to recycle it back onto farmland safely.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Of course, you're probably right, Harry; I just have the "ick factor" about so many things!

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