Monday, March 9, 2015

I co-edit a nonfiction book review blog called with my cousin Annmarie Ortega. The following blog originally appeared there recently. It's on one of my favorite topics this spring. I hope you're inspired!

The global climate change movement howls about the evils of carbon in the atmosphere, but most ignore how important carbon is to the soil. It's vital to the health of plants and, in turn, to the health of everyone and everything that eats those plants. In other words, it's vital to us all. But humans have spent thousands of years taking lousy care of the soil, and we've only gotten worse as the centuries have passed. As a result, the carbon content of our soils has been severely depleted. So what to do? Read books, of course! This is a book review site, after all.

Organic is so last year. Sustainable isn't enough. We need to take action that regenerates the planet. That's a substantial part of the message in Kristin Ohlson's book The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet. Yes, organic and sustainable are good, and they're certainly way better than factory farming and pesticides, but there's more to it than that. We need to heal the soil by replenishing carbon, which will help heal the environment. The idea is that when carbon leaves the soil, it must go somewhere, which means it ends up in the atmosphere. Ohlson points out that even without burning fossil fuels, the carbon build-up in the atmosphere will persist if we don't change our damaging farming and land use practices. We need to put that carbon back in the soil where it can help us instead of kill us.

Want more fuel for your carbon fire? Try Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country by Courtney White. For the animal lovers among us, pick up a copy of Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth by Judith D. Schwartz. An advantage of these books and others like them is that they leave readers feeling hopeful. We're not at the mercy of polluting mega-corporations or factory farms or genetic engineers. Individuals can take meaningful action in their own backyards and at their local grocery stores.

Start planning your spring regenerative gardens now and be optimistic about our planet's future!

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