James Flory's MEMORY-HOLED BOOK REVIEWS

The Majority is Always Wrong.

Category: Gardening and Self-Sufficiency

THE ORGANIC GARDENER’S HANDBOOK by Frank Tozer

This book is every bit as good and important as Tozer’s The Vegetable Growers Handbook, and it should in fact be considered an essential companion piece. It too has more than its share of quaint punctuation mistakes (don’t you just love these hard-working independent publishers?), and it too has more than its share of valuable insight and wisdom for how to successfully grow your own food.

This Tozer work is more generalized: Whereas The Vegetable Growers Handbook was about the different plants to choose from and many of their idiosyncratic propagation requirements, The Organic Gardeners Handbook focuses more on improving soil chemistry, effective composting and other fertilizers, various garden implements and their usage, planning and maximizing available space, bed preparation, seed longevity and preservation–you name it, this book’s got it, all about more self-sufficient , chemical-free approach to gardening. Whereas

The Vegetable Growers Handbook addresses some of these more generalized areas of setting up and maintaining a garden, this book delves into such faire more deeply. So much so, in fact, that often Tozer, in all his vast years of experience on both sides of the North American continent, sometimes provides mostly unknown–and quite interesting–information, but info that is so esoteric that it just elicits more questions in the reader’s mind, secondary and tertiary questions that Tozer forgets to address because he probably was unaware at the time he was writing that his rarified info had this nettlesome side-effect of opening up this other can of unanswered worms. But this too only adds to the charm of this book and Tozer’s work in general. It’s like reading an exhausive journal penned by a very wise, very experienced, very friendly–but occasionally absent-minded–old farmer.

So yeah, basically, if you get the other book, you gotta get this one too. Trust me, you won’t be sorry you did.

Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ
5/2009

THE VEGETABLE GROWER’S HANDBOOK by Frank Tozer

This is a wonderfully practical manual on home gardening, independently published, from a longtime gardener familiar with gardening experience both in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Chapters are divided, encyclopedically, according to different species of gardening plant with all the usual fruits and vegetables here, along with some rather unusual entries. However, unlike the clinical writing of an encyclopedia, Tozer writes with the quaintness and occasional wry humor of a country farmer. (And he frequently punctuates like one too–ha, ha.) This book has personality; it’s a personable read, and Tozer is quite knowledgeable and has apparently grown just about all the many food plants herein.

One thing Tozer does consistently and splendidly is include little idiosyncratic details about each that he personally has noticed in his many years experience. He typically includes little, obscure but nevertheless important details on how to grow a certain crop: what to watch out for, what to do, what not to do. It’s stuff that an old time gardener would tell you in person in a face to face conversation; esoteric information like this is more interesting, and one usually doesn’t find this kind of stuff in gardening books published by major major book publishers. For example: One of the most curious and recurring threads of memory that Tozer passes on in this book is his apparent lifelong struggle with and hatred for the squash vine borer beetle which attacks all summer and winter squash, but apparently only east of the Rocky Mountains. Tozer, having lived and gardened on either side of the Rockies, is able to provide that kind of rare info: that this pest is not a problem out west. This is the kind of rare info that this guy provides throughout this extremely useful book.
Just don’t expect color photos of the plants. All you’ll get are black and white line graphics. The info is what’s precious here, not the presentation.

Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ
4/2009

NATURE’S GARDEN by Samuel Thayer

This must be one of the best books on foraging ever produced. The author must truly be a rare eccentric, for he’s been foraging wild food since he was a young child and really knows his stuff. He tells of being a very young boy when he first started routinely gathering and eating wild carrots which, because of similarities to poison hemlock, are often avoided by older, more seasoned foragers. But this author simplifies the act of foraging. He takes the fear out of it, though he is careful to include the requisite words of caution–that, and the book is loaded with beautiful, high-quality photographs which differentiate between the edible plant being sought vs. a poisonous semi-lookalike.

        Thayer, in addition to being an expert forager, happens also to be a very stylistic and often humorous writer. He comes across as very personable.

        If there is any fault with this book it is that the plants discussed tend to be more concentrated on the eastern half of North America rather than in the West. But other than that, this is a near-perfect book on this topic, much better than any “field guide” which this reader has ever examined.

        As a bonus, the author’s introduction is a very compelling read which in large part deals with Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild and Sean Penn’s movie of the same name. Thayer excoriates Krakauer’s irresponsible conjectures-posing-as-facts which purport to explain the death of the young man Chris McCandless. Krakauer made the baseless speculation that McCandless had died of poisoning from a mistake while foraging; Thayer articulates most persuasively that McCandless died of starvation, and that McCandless was well along the path to starvation before he had ever left for his ill-fated trek to Alaska.

Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ
6/2011

THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK by Ron Schmid

One of the most significant health-related books that any American could read today. Ron Schmid documents the memory-holed history of milk, first in the ancient to not-so-ancient world, and then to examining colonial America to present America. The history of raw milk, versus the history of pasteurized milk, is compared and contrasted; likewise, the health benefits of raw milk, versus the health risks of pasteurized milk, are compared and contrasted. Contemporary scientific and legislative facts about raw milk vs. the pasteurized stuff are discussed in depth as well. Most readers will be utterly shocked by what they are confronted with here: They will be forced to see that, unlike the propaganda of the mainstream corporate-controlled media, it is pasteurized milk that poses a deadly and ever present danger to the public, not certified raw milk.

This is history, and these are scientific nutritional facts, that the small and powerful monopoly of pasteurized dairy corporations in America do not want you to know about. A man who reads this book will likely never purchase nor drink pasteurized milk again as long as he lives. But, even more surprisingly, a man who considers himself not to be a milk-drinker, upon reading this book, will likely seek out and regularly drink certified raw milk for the rest of his life. Yes, this is one of those rare “life-changing” books. It is perhaps not an overstatement to say that if every American were to read this book, even as dumbed-down as most Americans are today, then the entire pasteurized dairy monopoly of North America would all go out of business in a month’s time.

Schmid, the author, is a naturopathic physician. We need more naturopaths. Only a physician outside of  the Rockefeller-controlled, petro-chemical medical establishment could write a book like this. The factual history in this book is either denied or, more likely, altogether unknown to most allopathic physicians and nutritionists; the scientific-nutritional facts in this book are either erroneously denied by them or, more likely, ignored altogether. To read that the prestigious Mayo Clinic once regularly prescribed a dietary regimen of nothing but raw milk to patients with a wide variety of chronic illnesses as late as the 1920s, and how this “Milk Cure” proved remarkably efficacious for nearly all of these patients, is truly startling stuff, and it should be so, for the historian of today, for the physician of today, as well as for the nutritionist of today.

This is a truly superlative work!

Rating: Δ Δ Δ Δ Δ
12/2011