It’s climate change, stupid.


Reviews by Kristina Sepetys


Three new books use different lenses to examine climate change in the food and farming world. A fourth on summer grilling provides a recipe from a chef-author who lives the sustainability principles, working to restore our relationship with the ocean, the land, and community.


LocalLocal: The New Face of Food and Farming in America
by Douglas Gayeton
(Harper Design, June 2014)

Petaluma-based Gayeton, artist and co-director of the Lexicon of Sustainability project, examines local food movements and the way they can address climate change. Gayeton asked hundreds of thought leaders in sustainable food and farming like Alice Waters, Temple Grandin, Barton Seaver, Vandana Shiva, and Joel Salatin, along with farmers, fishermen, and dairy producers to give him one word to define the essence of their work. Their answers, more than 200 food and agriculture terms like “food miles,” “direct trade,” and “grassfed,” comprise this very readable, well-photographed dictionary of food literacy. Says Gayeton, “If people know what terms mean, if they can see complex principles rendered simply, in ways that apply to their own lives, if they can visualize not only a complex idea but its solution, then a transformative conversation about climate change will follow.”


Sustainable (R)evolutionSustainable [R]evolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox
(North Atlantic Books, 2014)

Anthropologist Juliana Birnbaum and filmmaker Louis Fox examine permaculture activism to document the growing international sustainability movement. The authors present 60 innovative community-based projects in diverse climates across the planet to illustrate a variety of permaculture design approaches. They catalog successful design solutions at urban farms, indigenous villages, and suburban co-housing communities.


Grass Hope SoilGrass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country
by Courtney White
(Chelsea Green, 2014)

Courtney White offers some easy suggestions for what we can each do to help combat climate change. Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals. Soil scientists maintain that a mere two percent increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. In Grass, Soil, Hope, White shows how existing, low-tech, proven practices like composting, no-till farming, habitat conservation, climate-friendly livestock practices, biodiversity protection, and local food production can reduce atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things.


Where There’s Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling
by Barton Seaver
(Sterling Epicure, 2013)

Where There's SmokeBarton Seaver, sustainability advocate, chef, National Geographic Fellow, and Director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, serves up a cornucopia of suggestions for using a smoking grill to prepare fresh, organic produce, fish, beef, and poultry. With how-to grill tips to capture all the benefits of heat and flavor, Seaver includes well-tested recipes like Wood-Grilled Snap Peas with Smoky Aioli, Grilled Pacific Halibut with Pistachio Butter, Flank Steak with Radicchio and Plum Salad, Meatloaf with Smoky Tomato Sauce, and Pickled Smoked Peaches, together with dozens of simple, flavorful vegetable side dishes and salads.