All I want for Christmas is a really good book

Enviro-friendly books for green gift-giving

Lyon Books clerk Mary McMahon recommends Masanobu Fukuoka’s <i>One-Straw Revolution</i>

Lyon Books clerk Mary McMahon recommends Masanobu Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution

Green Christmas book-giving
Call me old-school, but I love getting and giving books at Christmastime. Any one of the following eco-savvy books would make a great holiday gift (all available at Lyon Books, 121 W. Fifth St., 891-3338):

Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living, by Annie Berthold-Bond, is a useful book for the do-it-yourselfer wanting to make nontoxic house-, body-, pet- and garden-care products. From a basic dishwashing soap made with liquid castile soap and essential oil, to a soap-and-Tabasco cockroach repellant, to a more elaborate, Mayan-style “Flora de Mayo” plumeria face cream, this book has lots of good DIY recipes and advice.

This Green House: Home Improvements for the Eco-Smart, the Thrifty, and the Do-It-Yourselfer, by Joshua Piven (author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook), covers a range of green DIY projects, from the simple to the more complex and costly. Piven shows you how to build an outdoor solar shower, make your own eco-friendly cat litter, construct a root cellar and grow mushrooms in your basement. He also tells you how to build a cost-saving geothermal heating system, install a micro-mini wind turbine array and convert your diesel car to one that runs on used vegetable grease (versus purchased biodiesel).

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!, edited by Carleen Madigan. Everything from gardening (including growing grains), to milking a goat, to making coffee from dried, roasted dandelion roots is covered in this how-to manual for self-sufficiency. Learn to raise chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigs, sheep, goats and even a cow or two. Also has info on making your own mozzarella, sausage, butter, and so on, as well as how to keep bees. And more.

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, by Suzanne Ashworth. With a focus on heirloom varieties, Ashworth’s book is a goldmine of information on seed production and storage for 160 different vegetables. Includes regional growing recommendations.

The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka. A classic from the 1970s, with a preface by none other than Wendell Berry and an introduction added in 2009 by Frances Moore Lappé (how’s that for cred?). Fukuoka’s book about natural, “do-nothing” farming and having a healthy attitude toward food reminds me of the writing of naturalist John Muir in its heartfelt straightforwardness and the depth of his grasp of the natural world.

Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, by Gene Logsdon. Smart and salty Ohio farmer/writer Logsdon has produced this brand-new, highly readable, well-researched book on the usefulness of every type of manure, from farm animal to pet to bat to human. Wendell Berry gives the thumbs-up on this one as well.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan. This lovely little must-own guide to smart eating includes such advice as: “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk” and “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”

And I’ve said it before, but Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation, by Sharon Astyk, is just one heck of a handy book for anyone wanting to learn about such things as canning and dehydrating, and food security in general.