Earth Day & inspiring books

Howdy, and happy Earth Day!  Friend, CSA member, and garden blogger Jean Potuchek let us know about a fun project going on today in the blog-o-sphere.  A gardening blog called The Sage Butterfly came up with the idea of an “Earth Day Reading Project” by asking other gardening, farming, and green-related blogs to do the following:  “List at least three books that inspired you to perform any sustainable living act or inspired you to live green, and then tell us why they inspired you. These books do not have to be about green living. Nonfiction and fiction apply.”  So, here’s the Summit Springs Farm edition:

“Fast Food Nation:  The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” by Eric Schlosser (2001)
Journalist Schlosser came up with a well-researched and frankly disturbing report on our nation’s eating habits and how those habits have had ripple effects throughout society.  The portions of the book about the industrial meat-packing industry are just sickening.  I was very angry after finishing this book and vowed to swear off fast food and really take some time to educate myself about responsible food choices.  I was also working at Borealis Breads at the time, so between the job and the book the seeds were really sown for me to delve into the local food movement.

“What Are People For?” by Wendell Berry (1990)
What can I say about Kentucky’s Mr. Berry?  Poet, essayist, novelist, activist (earlier this spring he was part of a sit-in at the Kentucky State House to bring attention to the horrors of mountaintop removal coal mining), sage, farmer…the man has such a store of good common sense!  I read many of his essay collections in a short burst back about ten years ago, but “What Are People For?” stands out because I read it first and it covers such a wide range of topics…everything from waste to local agriculture to a very amusing piece on why he chooses not to use a computer.  Berry’s defense of local communities and economies is as important now as ever, and I return to him often for reassurance and inspiration.

“Walden” by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”  I read Walden as a teenager, and its influence has been pretty profound.  For me (and probably countless others through the years) it was my first exposure to the concepts of frugality, simplicity, and self-sufficiency.  It’s an important lesson in this mad, mad world.

And you?  What books inspired you to green living and more of an awareness of the fragility and preciousness of Mother Earth?  Please comment if you like and share some good reads!

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2 Responses to Earth Day & inspiring books

  1. I had not heard of, What are People For?, but it is now on my reading list. Your other selections are inspiring and great reads for thoughtful green living. Walden is one of my favorites. I often wanted to do what he did–commune with nature. Thank you for participating in The Earth Day Reading Project.

  2. John says:

    And thank you for the idea! I was running short on time and didn’t bother trying to round up or sync up with other blogs, but I loved the idea. Perhaps it can be an annual tradition? I can think of many other books I’ve read over the years that have been educational and inspirational from a “green” perspective. Take care!

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