How Carrots Won the Trojan War

Once upon a time I meet an author. Not an unusual event in a bookstore, but this author stuck in my mind because she was fun and giggly and very much a kindred spirit!  Her name is Rebecca Rupp. Her middle-reader novel, The Dragon of Lonely Island is still one of my favorite books. But a new book of hers, How Carrots Won the Trojan War (while like her other non-fiction works) is not my usual reading. First it is non-fiction. And while I've read some non-fiction (even willingly and not mandatory for a class assignment) it is not first on my list of readings.

But when I heard that carrots helped win the Trojan War, I had to take a chance on a friend. And it was a chance worth taking! Rupp has taken vegetables to a new level. She has traced the funny, serious and unusual facts and stories of 20 different vegetables: such as asparagus (a least favorite veggie of mine due to an unfortunate dinner preparation for a couple of children I was babysitting) and how it seduced a French King. Such as corn with its connection to a famous Transylvanian. Such as Pumpkins (a favorite pie of mine and a food for a family legend) and of course turnips (that vegetable that ties in with pumpkins and has a history that would give me a starring role in a Junior-High Play—which to this day I've still not gotten my academy award for!) (READ MORE)

How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables Cover Image
ISBN: 9781603429689
Availability: Special Order
Published: Storey Publishing, LLC - October 7th, 2011

Folks, This Ain't Normal

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Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780892968206
Availability: Special Order
Published: Center Street - October 9th, 2012

We have come to accept so many strange things as normal!  Salatin sheds light on our over-processed, over-packaged, over-regulated modern culture and offers some interesting alternatives. Just ignore everything he says about a woman's role in society.  ~ Reviewed by Krysta Piccoli

Finding Higher Ground

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Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807084991
Availability: Special Order
Published: Beacon Press - May 1st, 2012

Amy Seidl has written another poignant book about climate change. Finding Higher Ground is an exploration of what it means to be adapting to a changing world. This is not an argument against efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but an acknowledgement that we have already altered our biosphere and a discovery of how we can adapt. Both deeply personal and grounded in the latest science, Seidl has produced a fine contemplation on a difficult subject. Thanks Amy! ~ Reviewed by Chris Morrow

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era by Amory Lovins - Book Review

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Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era Cover Image
By Amory Lovins, Marvin Odum (Foreword by), John W. Rowe (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781603585385
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Chelsea Green Publishing Company - October 7th, 2013

Nobody covers energy issues like Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Rigorous, interesting, and important. ~ Reviewed by Chris Morrow

The End of Growth

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The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865716957
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Society Publishers - New Society Publishe - September 1st, 2011

Richard Heinberg is the man to write this book. Steeped in these issues for decades, he takes the reader step by step through our current and future world. The End of Growth covers economics, the environment and energy and the interplay between them to show why we have entered an era of no growth. This is a sobering book to be sure, but part of the message is that we have to enter the future withe eyes wide open and a plan - or the transition will be worse than it needs to be. He does offer some direction at the end, but there are no easy answers to hang your hat on. The bottom line, according to Heinberg (with ample evidence to back him up) is that we are entering the 5th great era of humanity after 1) fire, 2) agriculture, 3)industrialization and 4) technology. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to educate themselves about the macro trends which are defining our existence now (and in the near future.) Well written and highly informative. ~ Reviewed by Chris Morrow


Farewell, My Subaru

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Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812977899
Availability: Special Order
Published: Villard - March 24th, 2009

Doug Fine moves to the New Mexican desert with the goal of kicking his fossil fuel habit and getting off the grid. He has no experience whatsoever with ranching, farming, or any of the things people need to be self-sufficient. To top it off, he's a Wal-Mart addict. He kicks his addiction early in the book and makes no secret of the fact that he asks for help whenever he can. He also buys two goats to help him get his other habit off-grid: ice cream.

A few solar panels and one veggie oil run monster truck later, Fine is well on his way to reaching his goals. He plants a garden (several times, due to many crop-decimating hail storms), installs a solar hot water heater and gets himself some chickens. He almost makes the tasks seem simple (given the right friends and enough money, of course). He certainly makes it sound fun, especially with all of the humorous and well-placed recipes (rattlesnake stew when he discovers a rattlesnake near his home, although in this case the rattlesnake escapes unharmed).

The part that I found most interesting was his veggie oil car. I had all but forgotten about these little miracles with my obsession to buy an electric car and power it with solar panels. Of course a much cheaper option is to get an old diesel car and convert it to veggie oil. The image of a massive fuel-guzzling truck roaring around town spurting out chinese food-scented emissions is almost too good to pass up!

My only criticism of this book is the lack of sources. Throughout the story Fine drops a few facts and figures having to do with energy and resource consumption, typical statistics to find in a book on environmentalism, but he sites no sources. Where did this information come from? There is no bibliography, no where to go for further reading. If he picked these facts up from the internet, what are the websites? Who did the studies? Who collected this data? I've never come across a book with facts that lacked sources and I found the whole thing confusing.

All in all, it was a great book. Doug Fine is a humorous writer and a great story teller. At 200 pages it's a quick and enjoyable read but still full of insight. I picked it up, thinking it looked like fun. Turns out you can judge a book by its cover, because fun it is. ~ Reviewed by Krysta Piccoli


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