Food Fraud and Bees
BOOKFORUM reviews two new books
on the Food Crisis
Rowan Jacobsen monitors another distressing side effect of agribusiness consolidation in Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. Jacobsen, a US food writer who has contributed to the New York Times and Saveur, examines colony collapse disorder (CCD), which hit the United States’ beekeeping industry in 2006. The syndrome affected half of the nation’s commercial bee operations, wiping out about thirty billion bees.
The most puzzling thing about the CCD outbreak was the abundance of possible triggers. Commercial bee operations were overrun with mites and viruses, and bees were kept on the go—fed corn syrup to stay alive between gigs pollinating monocrop farms. Meanwhile, the crops we have Apis mellifera pollinating are awash in pesticides; in some cases, plants are even genetically modified to produce the chemicals themselves. What’s more, monocrop farming is not conducive to bee health—all pollen is not created equal, and some types offer greater nutritional value than others. Bees need a mixture of pollen sources to sustain their health.
Read the full review: http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/015_03/2724
Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud.
Hardcover: Princeton UP, 2008.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $21 ] [ Amazon ]
Ron Sider reviews
PASSING THE PLATE: WHY AMERICAN CHRISTIANS
DON’T GIVE AWAY MORE MONEY.http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2008/006/5.11.html
Many have lamented the meager giving of American Christians. Others have questioned the data on which this criticism was based or pointed out that American Christians give more than those in most other nations. Now we have a careful, scholarly analysis of how much—i.e., how little—American Christians give, plus a sophisticated sociological analysis of why.
Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money is a powerful study about the pitifully small charitable donations of the richest Christians in history. In spite of the fact that most Christian denominations support tithing (see Appendix A), only a tiny fraction of American Christians actually tithe. Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson, and Patricia Snell set out to discover why. Using a number of the best currently available data sets plus a survey and personal interviews of their own, the authors offer the best available information on what American Christians actually give to charitable causes and then try to figure out why such rich Christians give so little.
Read the full review: http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2008/006/5.11.html
Passing the Plate: Why American Christians
Don’t Give Away More Money.
Smith / Emerson / Snell.
Hardcover: Oxford UP, 2008.
Buy now [ Amazon ]
The NY TIMES review of Toni Morrison’s
newest novel A MERCYhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/books/04kaku.html?_r=1
A horrifying act stood at the center of Toni Morrison’s 1987 masterwork, “Beloved”: a runaway slave, caught in her effort to escape, cuts the throat of her baby daughter with a handsaw, determined to spare the girl the fate she herself has suffered as a slave. A similarly indelible act stands at the center of Ms. Morrison’s remarkable new novella, “A Mercy,” a small, plangent gem of a story that is, at once, a kind of prelude to “Beloved” and a variation on that earlier book’s exploration of the personal costs of slavery — a system that moves men and women and children around “like checkers” and casts a looming shadow over both parental and romantic love.
Set some 200 years before “Beloved,” “A Mercy” conjures up the beautiful, untamed, lawless world that was America in the 17th century with the same sort of lyrical, verdant prose that distinguished that earlier novel. Gone are the didactic language and schematic architecture that hobbled the author’s 1998 novel, “Paradise”; gone are the cartoonish characters that marred her 2003 novel, “Love.” Instead Ms. Morrison has rediscovered an urgent, poetic voice that enables her to move back and forth with immediacy and ease between the worlds of history and myth, between ordinary daily life and the realm of fable.
All the central characters in this story are orphans, cast off by their parents or swept away from their families by acts of God or nature or human cruelty — literal or figurative exiles susceptible to the centrifugal forces of history. There is Jacob, an Anglo-Dutch trader, whose memories of his own parentless years on the streets “stealing food and cadging gratuities for errands” have left him with a “pulse of pity for orphans and strays.” There is his wife, Rebekka, who as a girl of 16 was sent abroad to America by her father, who, happy to have one less mouth to feed, readily accepted Jacob’s offer of “ ‘reimbursement’ for clothing, expenses and a few supplies” in exchange for a “healthy, chaste wife willing to travel abroad.” And there is Florens, whose mother sees the kindness in Jacob’s heart and begs him to take her young daughter (as payment for a debt owed by their domineering owner) in the hopes that the trader will give her a better life and the possibility of a future as a free woman, not a slave.
Read the full review: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/books/04kaku.html?_r=1