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Picks of the Month

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141.

TOMATOLAND

Barry Estabrook
Hardcover

Price: $19.99

Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James B…

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Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award-winning article, "The Price of Tomatoes," investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but has also produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, and tomatoes that have 14 times more sodium than the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?

Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Fla., aka the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation's top restaurants.

Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a who's who cast of characters in the tomato industry: the avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-Marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the U.S. attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; and the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents' medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years.

Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit as well as an exposé of today's agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.

142.

BEEKEEPING: A SEASONAL GUIDE

Ron Brown
Paperback

Price: $19.95

From the stirrings of spring and summer swarms to autumn honey harvest and winter protection, this essential resource guides both the aspiring and experienced beekeeper through every season of the bee…

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From the stirrings of spring and summer swarms to autumn honey harvest and winter protection, this essential resource guides both the aspiring and experienced beekeeper through every season of the beekeeping year. Learn how to rear a queen, control a swarm, protect a hive, and keep bees healthy. The book is also packed with practical tips on using beeswax and, of course, making honey.

About the author: Ron Brown has more than 50 years' experience of keeping bees, both in Britain and central Africa. A former editor of the monthly journal Beekeeping, he has travelled all over the world to give lectures on specialist beekeeping topics.

143.

THE NATURE PRINCIPLE

Richard Louv
Paperback

Price: $24.95

Richard Louv changed how we view and interact with nature in the New York Times best-seller Last Child in the Woods, which sparked an international movement to reconnect children with nature and intro…

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Richard Louv changed how we view and interact with nature in the New York Times best-seller Last Child in the Woods, which sparked an international movement to reconnect children with nature and introduced the term “nature-deficit disorder.” His new book The Nature Principle is a call to action for the rest of us to also reconnect with the natural world.

Does your daily nature intake include running on the treadmill with a forest scene on the TV monitor in front of you? Or perhaps playing Wii tennis with your kids — instead of playing on a real tennis court? We all — kids and adults alike — are suffering from “nature-deficit disorder.”

In The Nature Principle, Louv discusses how we can create a healthier balance between technology and nature, so that we can experience the best of technology and nature in our lives. He shows us how tapping into the restorative powers of the natural world can boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds. As he says in his introduction, The Nature Principle is “about the power of living in nature — not with it, but in it. We are entering the most creative period in history. The twenty-first century will be the century of human restoration in the natural world.”

Cities, communities, and organizations around the country are embracing this movement. In fact, May 6 has officially been declared the Richard Louv and Children and Nature Day in the city of San Diego! Louv is giving a call to action to change the way we live, and how much better off we’ll be for it.

144.

DIY SOLAR PROJECTS

Eric Smith
Paperback

Price: $21.99

Advances in solar technology have made many DIY-friendly products available to consumers. These include solar water heaters, solar battery charging stations, solar-powered lights, photovoltaic shingle…

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Advances in solar technology have made many DIY-friendly products available to consumers. These include solar water heaters, solar battery charging stations, solar-powered lights, photovoltaic shingles that provide supplementary electricity, solar heat pumps, and solar panel kits that generate primary home electrical service. Among the step-by-step projects is a solar water heating system you can build and install yourself for under $1,000; simple thermosyphon solar heat collectors for barns and outbuildings; and "heat grabbers" that you can fabricate for $50 in materials and position below a south-facing window to provide auxiliary winter heat.

Want to read more? Preview this book: How to Make a Solar Still.

145.

RENEWABLE ENERGY MADE EASY

David Craddock
Paperback

Price: $24.95

Studies have shown that the average North American family will spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on energy in a lifetime. What many other countries, including Germany, Spain, France, Denm…

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Studies have shown that the average North American family will spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on energy in a lifetime. What many other countries, including Germany, Spain, France, Denmark, China, Brazil and even Iceland, have realized is that there is a better way to power our homes, businesses and cars: by using renewable energy sources.

Recently, the United States has begun to understand the importance of reducing its reliance on coal, natural gas, nuclear power and hydropower plants, which comprise the majority of the nation's electricity, due to increasing oil prices. Some sections of the country, including California, are turning to renewable energy sources. In fact, 12 percent of California's electricity is produced by renewable resources. The potential for the use of renewables is very large and understanding their use and their impact is key.

Renewable Energy Made Easy will provide you with everything you need to know about these alternative energy sources. You will learn about solar power, wind power, water power, biofuels, geothermal energy, ethanol, wave farms, photovoltaic power plants and hydrogen fuels. You will also become well-versed on the availability, aesthetics, environmental and social considerations, and longevity issues of these so-called soft energy technologies.

In addition, you will learn about the current costs and the projected costs in the future, ENERGY STAR® regulations, the newest research and innovations, and the high development potential of renewable energy. This book will serve as a guide to creating more efficient buildings and an invaluable resource for how to change our preconceived notions about power.

This book has taken the complexity and scientific terms out of this topic, making it jargon-free and easy to understand. Ultimately, you will learn how our country can improve energy efficiency, reduce oil dependence, improve energy security, and reduce the health and environmental impact of our current energy system.

146.

HANDMADE MUSIC FACTORY

Michael Orr
Paperback

Price: $22.95

Hand-making musical instruments is part of a growing trend that even celebrities such as Johnny Depp and guitar legend Jack White are taking part in.

It doesn't require a lot of money or …

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Hand-making musical instruments is part of a growing trend that even celebrities such as Johnny Depp and guitar legend Jack White are taking part in.

It doesn't require a lot of money or an expertise in woodworking and electronics, all it takes is a little creativity. In Handmade Music Factory, handyman Mike Orr guides you through the construction of eight of the most unique and imaginative instruments found anywhere ... from a one-string guitar made from a soup can, to a hubcap banjo, and a stand-up lap steel guitar made from a vintage ironing board.

There are also directions for an amp that can be assembled using inexpensive parts from the local electronics store. There's no shortage of inspiration to draw upon in creating an arsenal of instruments that look good, sound great, and deliver some foot stompin' fun!

147.

HORSE-DRAWN DAYS

Jerry Apps
Paperback

Price: $24.95

Before tractors or steam engines arrived on the farm, horses did all the heavy work. From spring plowing to the fall harvest, the mighty draft horse powered farms across the Midwest. Relied upon to co…

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Before tractors or steam engines arrived on the farm, horses did all the heavy work. From spring plowing to the fall harvest, the mighty draft horse powered farms across the Midwest. Relied upon to complete a multitude of tasks, including towing threshing machines and plows, hauling milk to the local cheese factory, and pulling the family buggy to church each Sunday, these animals were at the center of farm life, cementing the bond between human and horse.

Horse-Drawn Days: A Century of Farming with Horses captures stories of rural life at a time when a team of horses was a vital part of the farm family. Author Jerry Apps pairs lively historic narrative with reminiscences about his boyhood on the family farm in Wisconsin to paint a vivid picture of a bygone time. Featuring fascinating historic photos, ads, and posters, plus contemporary color photos of working horses today, Horse-Drawn Days evokes the majesty of these animals and illuminates the horse's role in our country's early history and our rural heritage.

148.

COOP: A FAMILY, A FARM, & THE PURSUIT OF ONE GOOD EGG

Michael Perry
Paperback

Price: $14.99

Living in a ramshackle Wisconsin farmhouse — faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home — Mic…

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Living in a ramshackle Wisconsin farmhouse — faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home — Michael Perry plumbs his unorthodox childhood for clues to how to proceed as a farmer, a husband, and a father. Whether he's remembering his younger days — when his city-bred parents took in sixty or so foster children while running a sheep and dairy farm — or describing what it's like to be bitten in the butt while wrestling a pig, Perry flourishes in his trademark humor. But he also writes from the quieter corners of his heart, chronicling experiences as joyful as the birth of his child and as devastating as the death of a dear friend.

149.

FOLKS, THIS AIN'T NORMAL

Joel Salatin
Hardcover

Price: $25.99

From farmer Joel Salatin's point of view, life in the 21st century just ain't normal. In Folks, This Ain't Normal, he discusses how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes fro…

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From farmer Joel Salatin's point of view, life in the 21st century just ain't normal. In Folks, This Ain't Normal, he discusses how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love. Salatin has many thoughts on what normal is and shares practical and philosophical ideas for changing our lives in small ways that have big impact.

Salatin, hailed by the New York Times as "Virginia's most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson [and] the high priest of the pasture" and profiled in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Food, Inc. and the best-selling book The Omnivore's Dilemma, understands what food should be: wholesome, seasonal, raised naturally, procured locally, prepared lovingly, and eaten with a profound reverence for the circle of life. And his message doesn't stop there. From child-rearing, to creating quality family time, to respecting the environment, Salatin writes with a wicked sense of humor and true storyteller's knack for the revealing anecdote.

Salatin's crucial message and distinctive voice – practical, provocative, scientific, and down-home philosophical in equal measure – make Folks, This Ain't Normal a must-read book.

150.

WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

Matthew Stein
Paperback

Price: $24.95

Disasters often strike without warning and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Yet armed with the right tools and information, survivors can fend for themselves and get through even the toug…

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Disasters often strike without warning and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Yet armed with the right tools and information, survivors can fend for themselves and get through even the toughest circumstances. Matthew Stein's When Disaster Strikes provides a thorough, practical guide for how to prepare for and react in many of life's most unpredictable scenarios.

In this disaster-preparedness manual, he outlines the materials you'll need—from food and water, to shelter and energy, to first-aid and survival skills—to help you safely live through the worst. When Disaster Strikes covers how to find and store food, water, and clothing, as well as the basics of installing back-up power and lights. You’ll learn how to gather and sterilize water, build a fire, treat injuries in an emergency, and use alternative medical sources when conventional ones are unavailable.

Stein instructs you on the smartest responses to natural disasters—such as fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods—how to keep warm during winter storms, even how to protect yourself from attack or other dangerous situations. With this comprehensive guide in hand, you can be sure to respond quickly, correctly, and confidently when a crisis threatens.

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