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World-renowned scientist and conservationist Jane Goodall earned her fame by studying chimpanzee feeding habits. But in Harvest for Hope, she scrutinizes human eating behaviors, and the colossal food industries that force-feed some cultures' self-destructive habits for mass consumption. It's an unsustainable lifestyle that Goodall argues must change immediately, beginning--not ironically--at a grassroots level.
Looping personal anecdotes from 40 years of global travels with stories from noble farmer Davids and corporate Goliaths, Goodall methodically builds her case for shopping organic and living modestly. Mustering a tender gumption, she details the vicious cycle of pesticide-ridden and genetically engineered crops which feed the unknowing majority of consumers; and also feed the antibiotic-treated animals that provide these folks with inexpensive entrees. Leaving nasty slaughterhouse scenes to less tactful pens, Goodall focuses more on the product of "factory farming" techniques: mountains of waste, nutritionally depleted soil, polluted water, displaced organic farmers, and severely compromised food.
Hope springs from positive sources: Edible Schoolyard programs in the U.K. and U.S., parents breaking their schools' "unholy alliance" with fast food chains and soft drink companies, a steady rise in organic purchases. Goodall offers many suggestions for rallying others, exercising one's own consumer powers, and just plain eating less meat. Conservationists might say this information is nothing new, which might explain why Goodall provides only tertiary references to her many statistics and facts. But for those who prefer that their own eating habits be stirred--not shaken--into question, the kindly Chimpanzee Lady provides the gentle touch required. --Liane Thomas
From Publishers Weekly
Goodall, best known for her decades of work with chimpanzees and baboons, turns to the social significance of the food people eat and of how it reaches our tables. In a style that's both persuasive and Pollyannaish, her guide glides through a quick history of early agriculture, despairs of "death by monoculture" (single-crop farming), warns of the hazards of genetically modified foods and of the disappearance of seed diversity,and bemoans the existence of inhumane animal factories and unclean fish farms—the macro concerns of the environmentally conscious. On a more micro level, she focuses on what individuals can do for themselves. In a grab bag of well-intentioned bromides, Goodall counsels her readers to become vegetarians, celebrates restaurants and grocery stores that seek out locally grown produce, frets about the quality of school lunches and the pervasiveness of fast food–fueled obesity, honors small farmers and warns of a looming water crisis. Most chapters conclude with "what you can do" sections: demand that modified foods be labeled; turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. This book about making healthy choices breaks no new ground, but its jargon-free and anecdote-rich approach makes it a useful primer for grassroots activists, while the Goodall imprimatur could broaden its reach.