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Long before sunflower seeds became a popular snack food, they were a foodstuff valued by Native Americans. For some 10,000 years, from the end of the Pleistocene to the 1800s, the indigenous peoples of the plains regarded edible native plants, like the sunflower, as an important source of food. Not only did plants provide sustenance during times of scarcity, they also added variety to what otherwise would have been a monotonous diet of game. Nevertheless, the use of native plants as food sharply declined when white men settled the Great Plains and imposed their own culture, with its differing notions of what was fit to eat. Those notions tended to exclude from the accepted diet such plants as soapweed, lambsquarter, ground cherry, prairie turnip and prickly pear. Today it is strange to think of eating chokecherries, which were a key ingredient in that staple of the Indian diet, pemmican.
Based on plant lore documented by historical and archaeological evidence, Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie relates how 122 plant species were once used as food by the native and immigrant residents on the prairie. Written for a broad audience of amateur naturalists, botanists, ethnologists, anthropologists and agronomists, this guide is intended to educate the reader about wild plants as food sources, to synthesize information on the potential use of native flora as new food crops, and to encourage the conservation and cultivation of prairie plants.
By writing about the edible flora of the American prairie, Kelly Kindscher has provided us with the first edible plant book devoted to the region that Walt Whitman called "North America's characteristic landscape" and that Willa Cather called "the floor of the sky." In describing how plants were used for food, he has drawn upon information concerning tribes that inhabited the prairie bioregion. As a consequence, his book serves as a handy compendium for readers seeking to learn more about historical uses of plants by Native Americans.
The book is organized into 51 chapters arranged alphabetically by scientific name. For those who are interested in finding and identifying the plants, the book provides line drawings, distribution maps, and botanical and habitat descriptions. The ethnobotanical accounts of food use form the major portion of the text, but the reader will also find information on the parts of the plants used, harvesting, propagation (for home gardeners), and the preparation and taste of wild food plants.
Author: Kelly Kindscher
America's average farmer is 60 years old. When young people can't get in, old people can't get out. Approaching a watershed moment, our culture desperately needs a generational transfer of millions of farm acres facing abandonment, development or amalgamation into ever-larger holdings. Based on his decades of experience with interns and multigenerational partnerships at Polyface Farm, farmer and author Joel Salatin digs deep into the problems and solutions surrounding this land- and knowledge-transfer crisis. Fields of Farmers empowers aspiring young farmers, midlife farmers and nonfarming landlords to build regenerative, profitable agricultural enterprises.
Author: Joel Salatin
This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress and economic instability?
The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals. Soil scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet's soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible?
Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy.
Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.
In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil, we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.
Author: Courtney White
An array of abundant wild foods is available to hikers, campers, foragers or anyone interested in living closer to the earth. But Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants is more than a listing of plant types-it teaches how to recognize edible plants and where to find them, their medicinal and nutritional properties, and their growing cycles. Christopher Nyerges, a leading expert on wild foods and a well-known teacher of survival skills, includes in this new edition of the book more than 70 plants found all around the United States. Accompanying them are more than 100 full-color photos, plus handy leaf, fruit and seed keys to help readers identify the plants. You'll also discover fascinating folklore about plants, Nyerges' personal anecdotes about trips and meals, and simple and tasty recipes.
Author: Christopher Nyerges
How to Stay Alive in the Woods is a practical, readable and potentially indispensable manual for anyone venturing into the great outdoors.
Broken down into four essential sections (Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation and Safety), this enlightening guide reveals how to catch game without a gun, what plants to eat (full-color illustrations of these make identification simple), how to build a warm shelter, make clothing, protect yourself and signal for help. Detailed illustrations and expanded instructions, newly commissioned for this deluxe edition, offer crucial information at a glance, making How to Stay Alive in the Woods truly a lifesaver.
Author: Bradford Angier
The Plains Indians found medicinal value in more than 200 species of native prairie plants. Unfortunately, modern American culture has not paid much attention.
White settlers did learn a few plant-based remedies from the Indians, and a few prairie plants were prescribed by frontier doctors. A couple dozen prairie species were listed as drugs in the U.S. Pharmacopeia at one time or another, and one or two, like the Purple Coneflower, found their way into the bottles of patent medicine.
But in both the number of species used and the varieties of treatments administered, Indians were far more proficient than white settlers. Their familiarity with the plants of the prairie was comprehensive: There probably were Indian names for all prairie plants, and they recognized more varieties of some species than scientists do today. Their knowledge was refined and exact enough that they could successfully administer medicinal doses of plants that are poisonous. All of the species used by frontier doctors were used first by Indians.
In Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie, ethnobotanist Kelly Kindscher documents the medicinal use of 203 native prairie plants by the Plains Indians. Using information gleaned from archival materials, interviews and fieldwork, Kindscher describes plant-based treatments for ailments ranging from hyperactivity to syphilis, from arthritis to worms. He also explains the use of internal and external medications, smoke treatments, moxa (the burning of a medicinal substance on the skin), and the doctrine of signatures (the belief that the form or characteristics of a plant are signatures or signs that reveal its medicinal uses). He adds information on recent pharmacological findings to further illuminate the medicinal nature of these plants.
Not since 1919 has the ethnobotany of native Great Plains plants been examined so thoroughly. Kindscher's study is the first to encompass the entire Prairie Bioregion, a 1 million-square-mile area bounded by Texas on the south, Canada on the north, the Rocky Mountains on the west, and the deciduous forests of Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin in the east. Along with information on the medicinal uses of prairie plants by the Indians, Kindscher also lists Indian, common, and scientific names and describes Anglo folk uses, medical uses, scientific research and cultivation. Descriptions of the plants are supplemented by 44 exquisite line drawings and more than 100 range maps.
This book will help increase appreciation for prairie plants at a time when prairies and their biodiversity urgently need protection throughout the region.
Author: Kelly Kindscher
Miraculous Abundance is the eloquent tale of the couple’s evolution from creating a farm to sustain their family to delving into an experiment in how to grow the most food possible, in the most ecological way possible, and create a farm model that can carry us into a post-carbon future … when oil is no longer moving goods and services, energy is scarcer, and localization is a must.
Author: Perrine & Charles Herve-Gruyer
See the world in a new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman celebrates the diverse curiosities and beauty of the natural world in this exciting new volume. With whimsically hip illustrations, every page is an extraordinary look at all kinds of subjects, from mineral formation and the inside of a volcano to what makes sunsets, monarch butterfly migration, the ecosystem of a rotting log, the parts of a bird, the anatomy of a jellyfish, and much, much more.
Author: Julia Rothman
The 20th century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, human impacts on the environment increased dramatically.
The 21st century ushered in an era of declines, including:
To adapt to this profoundly different world, we must begin now to make radical changes to our attitudes, behaviors and expectations.
Now featuring a foreword by James Howard Kunstler, Peak Everything addresses many of the cultural, psychological and practical changes we will have to make as nature dictates our new limits. This landmark work from Richard Heinberg, author of three of the most important books on Peak Oil, touches on vital aspects of the human condition at this unique moment in time.
A combination of wry commentary and sober forecasting on subjects as diverse as farming and industrial design, this book describes how to make the transition from The Age of Excess to the Era of Modesty with grace and satisfaction, while preserving the best of our collective achievements. Peak Everything is a must-read for individuals, business leaders and policy makers serious about effecting real change.
Author: RICHARD HEINBERG
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Janisse Ray, award-winning author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt, writes an evocative paean to wildness and wilderness restoration with an extraordinary journey into southern Georgia's Pinhook Swamp.
Pinhook Swamp acts as a vital watershed and wildlife corridor, a link between the great southern wildernesses of Okefenokee Swamp and Osceola National Forest. Together Okefenokee, Osceola and Pinhook form one of the largest expanses of protected wild land east of the Mississippi River. This is one of America's last truly wild places, and Pinhook takes us into its heart.
Ray comes to know Pinhook intimately as she joins the fight to protect it, spending the night in the swamp, tasting honey made from its flowers, tracking wildlife, and talking to others about their relationship with the swamp. Ray sees Pinhook through the eyes of the people who live there: naturalists, beekeepers, homesteaders, hunters and locals at the country store. In lyrical, down-home prose, she draws together the swamp's need for restoration and the human desire for wholeness and wildness in our own lives and landscapes.
Author: Janisse Ray
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Concerns over climate change and energy depletion are increasing exponentially. Mainstream solutions still assume a panacea that will cure our climate ills without requiring any serious modification to our way of life.
Plan C explores the risks inherent in trying to continue our energy-intensive lifestyle. Using dirtier fossil fuels (Plan A) or switching to renewable energy sources (Plan B) allows people to remain complacent in the face of a potential global catastrophe. Dramatic lifestyle change is the only way to begin to create a sustainable, equitable world. The converging crises of Peak Oil, Climate Change and increasing inequity are presented in a clear, concise manner, as are the twin solutions of community (where cooperation replaces competition) and curtailment (deliberately reducing consumption of consumer goods).
Plan C shows how each person's individual choices can dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. It offers specific strategies in the areas of food, transportation and housing. One chapter analyzes the decimation of the Cuban economy when the USSR stopped oil exports in 1990 and provides an inspiring vision for a low energy way of living.
Plan C is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in living a lower-energy, saner and sustainable lifestyle.
Author: PAT MURPHY
Plants' ability to turn sunlight into energy makes them the basis for all life; without them there is no life. And they are more than just a food source-they provide us with fuel, fibers and pharmaceuticals.
Global warming and the destruction of natural habitats are a serious threat to many plants, and there are worldwide efforts to mitigate the disaster. Plant Conservation tackles this essential topic head on. Timothy Walker plays a key role in this effort as the director of the Oxford Botanical Garden, a leader in the field of plant conservation. He highlights what is happening now, from cataloging the world's flora to conservation efforts like protecting plants from overcollecting. He also shows home gardeners how they can become involved, whether by growing their own food to decrease reliance on large agriculture or by making smart plant choices by growing natives and avoiding invasives.
Plant Conservation treats a critical topic in an accessible and optimistic way. It is required reading for students, professionals and anyone with a keen interest in the importance of plants.
Author: Timothy Walker