by Joan Dye Gussow
Joan Gussow and her husband set out to build their retirement home, and instead they built a garden. I kid you not. Her dream home was really picked because of its location on the Hudson river and its long backyard with ample sunny space, but when they discovered the house had to be gutted (and even later, that it had to be torn down and rebuilt) they went ahead and started improving the land and planting vegetables months before their home was tenable. I am amazed already, but go on through my reading to discover that Gussow and her husband have reached their goal of feeding themselves from their own yard- veggie garden, fruit trees and berry patches- when there isn\’t stuff available fresh they eat stored potatoes, onions and parsnips, etc. That impresses me enough, but she goes on to live her environmentalist convictions even further, always questioning where the food she eats was produced, looking for food sources as close to home as she can get them (like Barbara Kingsolver also strove to do) as well as other measures (the book is mostly about food-related ones). One chapter in This Organic Life is all about things she\’s willing to do without, another is about the nextdoor community garden she helps establish, yet another is about the hard knocks nature deals them- like when the river floods their garden, when wireworms eat her sweet potatoes, when rats destroy her tomato plants. She admits its not easy and worries even more over the state of our nation\’s famers, who must have it even harder. This is such a conscientious, thoughtful, funny and encouraging book I\’m looking already for a copy to add to my personal library. Not to mention that it\’s got recipes, and really good-looking ones, too! Granted, they are all on the spicy side, but my husband likes spicy food! I haven\’t figured out yet what to do with all the hot peppers I grew this year…
I like this author. I like her voice, I like her convictions, I like the fact that she does something about them. I want to read more of what she\’s written, so I\’m looking in my library\’s database to see what they have… nothing! blah. Time to try for another swap, I suppose.
Rating: 4/5 …….. 273 pages, 2001