Gift Guide: Eco-Books

BlogHer Original Post

Ah, the gift of knowledge, what could be better? Most of the suggested books listed below could be the exact spark that gets somebody thinking. And that, my friends, is a gift to the world. In some cases, the books are new releases in 2011, and some are classic evergreens. Feel free to add your own suggestions at the bottom of this post:


Green Books
Image: backpackphotography via Flickr

Bake the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch by Jennifer Reese

With the DIY approach to food now an official trend, some reality is setting in…Do you really want to make your own condiments? Bread? Pasta? Pickle relish? Ms. Reese offers a wonderful comparison book about which foods are a better time and resource investment for homemade v. store bought. Plenty of great tips about where you may want to draw the line. (Hint: Hamburger buns, potato chips and rice pudding.)

The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman 

As an accomplice to Bittman's excellent, Food Matters, this cookbook offers a comprehensive starter kit for the cook who cares about their food choices and how they affect the planet. The book contains 500+ recipes (Roasted Pork Shoulder with Potatoes, Apricot Polenta Cake, for example) each written in a relaxed, no-guilt style. A great launch pad for mindful cooking…and eating.

Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook

For anyone who has lamented the bounty of perfectly round, hard, pink inedible 'tomatoes' so carefully displayed in the produce section and wondered what the hell happened, this is an enlightening must-read. The book details the environmental costs of this $5B industry and tracks a typical grocery story tomato from Peru to Florida. This grim tale, reading like an agri-whodunit, explains how and why we've lost track of our most beloved summer fruit.

Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Published five years ago (which is like 15, in green years) and yet it still keeps coming up in conversation, especially with those new to the conversation. The book is divided into three food categories: industrialized food, alternative/organic food and self-created food - gardening or hunting. The ideas and concepts posed in this well-worn favorite certainly bring a suspenseful air to the question: "What's for dinner?" (Also, check out Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Easter's Manifesto.)

Anything written by Wendell Berry 

Farmer, poet, activist and essayist….Now, here is a man we can all learn from. Berry has written at least twenty-five books of poetry, sixteen volumes of essays, and eleven novels and short story collections. His writes directly from his heart, which is grounded in the natural world. As much as I have tired of philosophical email signatures, I'm always happy to see one from WB. My favorite: "Eating is an agricultural act."

The Body Toxic: How the Hazardous Chemistry of Everyday Things Threatens our Health and Well-Being by Nena Baker 

Scientists are calling it, the "chemical body burden", a build-up of the chemicals that our bodies absorb every day. Everything from soap to computers to bedding to housing materials - all packed tight with dangerous chemicals. What the manufacturing industry calls "progress" may ultimately endanger our health, all in the name of convenience.

Green is the New Black: How to Change the World With Style by Tamsin Blanchard 

For the greenie who is also a fashion nut, this book poses the all-important question: What to wear when you care? And what's the deal with organic cotton? And where does one go for ethical bling? This book provides all the answers, at every hem length.

Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry by Stacy Malkan

For an industry that encourages beauty, it sure has an awful lot of dirty secrets. Lead in lipstick? Coal tar in shampoo? The book poses some hard questions, such as, "Why all the big pink ribbon marketing campaign when these companies use chemicals that may lead to breast cancer?" It reads like one big chemical peel and the results ain't pretty but thanks to some green-minded entrepreneurs, cleaner alternatives are looming.

Big Green Purse – Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World by Diane MacEachern 

Voting with the Almighty Dollar, this book is a specific call to women, 'Harness your buying power into real environmental change!' McEachern targets 25 commodities where our dollars have the greatest impact - food, clothing, cars, computers, coffee and cleansers, just to name a few. Don't forget the power of the purse.

Farewell My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine 

For anyone who has ever dreamed of moving forward by going backward, this book will prove an entertaining read. Doug Fine moved to a remote New Mexico ranch to explore a simpler way of life - growing his own food, utilizing solar power and running the car on restaurant grease instead of oil - and learned a few entertaining lessons along the way.

My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World (audiobook) by Jeff Garlin

You know Jeff Garlin, he is the big, funny guy from 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' (and a few other shows like 'Arrested Development') and he is seriously funny about his interest in making two big changes: Slimming down his own body, and his carbon footprint as well. Along this audio journey, we witness Garlin battling his food addiction (and a conniving Jerry Seinfeld) while simultaneously taking recycling advice from Ed Begley, Jr. All this, plus Leonard Nimoy. It's an ideal palate cleanser after all the seriousness.

Of course, gifting someone with a traditional paper book as opposed to an e-book is not very green-y, but not everyone is there yet. It's worth checking out the hardware in your giftee's life beforehand.

~Heather

BlogHer Section Editor, LIFE & GREEN; Contributing Editor, Animal & Wildlife Concerns; Proprietor, ClizBiz

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