Archives For Local Economy


“How Now Shall We Eat?

A review of

The Town that Food Saved:
How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
By Ben Hewitt.

Review by Dave Swanson.

The town that Food Saved - Ben HewittThe Town that Food Saved:
How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
Ben Hewitt.
New Paperback Edition:
Rodale Books, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Paperback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

The problem with reading books about sustainability, ecology, and responsible agriculture, is that the authors seem irresistibly drawn to recitation of “the litany”: that long, horrible, tragic list of ways that we humans are destroying things on our world. It’s as if reading this litany one more time will push readers over the edge to finally admit that, “Yes, western industry and the lifestyles that make it necessary are doing so much harm in the world that I am NOW determined to make a change (trumpets please)! I fear the litany has become a dirge, inspiring nobody.

Thankfully, Ben Hewitt has resisted the list! In his book The Town that Food Saved about the burgeoning food economy in Hardwick, Vermont, Hewitt gives us a story both timely and laden with import for our food crisis. I say story because that is what it is. The book, instead of introducing readers to issues, introduces us to people. The cast of characters involved with the food economy in Hardwick and the narrative outlining the evolution of the dynamics between them captured my attention and created a human context in which Hewitt could explore the questions about the food economy. Of course, some of the statistics and issues frequently appearing in the litany do appear in his book but it is as a contextual aside to the primary task he pursues: Finding out if the changes in the food economy in Hardwick are as beneficial to that community as those driving the movement claim.

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EAARTH - Bill McKibben

A Review of
EAARTH:Making Life on a Tough New Planet.
Bill McKibben.
Hardback: Times Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

[ Watch two videos of McKibben talking about EAARTH ]

Since the release of his heralded book The End of Nature, almost twenty years ago, Bill McKibben has been leading the way in alerting us to the growing problem of climate change and pleading with us to change our consumerist ways.  Most recently, McKibben has been the spokesperson for 350, a non-profit that elevates this work of educating and calling for change.  McKibben’s new book, EAARTH: Making Life on a Tough New Planet, makes a case for the work of 350 and offers hope that we adapt to life in world where fossil fuels are not the predominant source of energy.  EAARTH (McKibben has said in interviews that we need to “channel our inner Schwarzenegger” in order to say the title: URRRTH) is basically divided into two parts, the first is an exposition of the problems that climate change is wreaking and will continue to wreak; in the second part of the book, he begins to imagine what a world less reliant on fossil fuels might look like.

The first half of the book paints a stark picture: global temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting and there is an “historic level of CO2 in the atmosphere.”  And not only are these ecological problems escalating, their effects are being felt most powerfully among the poorest peoples of the world.  In spite of all the evidence that McKibben provides, some critics will likely accuse him of exaggeration.  The question that I would pose to such critics, and especially those who identify themselves as followers of Christ, is what good and selfless reason do we have for not reducing our consumption of fossil fuels?

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