A Smart Book about Scary Stuff – “How the Government Got in your Backyard” by Jeff Gillman and Eric Heberlig
Timber Press is a publishing company with a focus. The Portland, Oregon company keeps their eyes on “gardening, horticulture, botany, natural history, and the Pacific Northwest,” per their website. I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of their February 2011 release, “How the Government Got in Your Backyard,” by Jeff Gillman and Eric Heberlig.
As I admittedly know very little about governmental policies on environmental issues, the book was a real eye-opener. I mean, I’m no dummy. I’m aware that the way the American/world food system is set up is totally out of whack and probably not that good for us, but I also know enough to know that an “organic” sticker doesn’t really amount to much. Which agencies control all these things, and how the decisions get made however are things I’m totally in the dark about.
Gillman and Heberlig are a horticulturist and a political scientist respectively, and their unique angles allow them to open these issues to the regular folks like me who don’t know their HOA from their NOP. (So many agencies and committees, so many acronyms.)
Described as “Freakonomics for the gardening set,” the book presents both the right-and-left-wing arguments for a variety of environmental issues, and then attempts to give some cold hard facts about the science behind these issues. Politics is sometimes more a game of twisting facts than sharing them, and it’s really interesting to get the physical science behind such issues as Medical Marijuana, Global Warming, and Pesticide Regulation.
Yes – I used “interesting” and “Pesticide Regulation” in the same sentence. And I’m serious.
Whats most interesting – and frightening – is realizing how many chemicals wind up in all the food we eat. Supposedly, they’re safe. At least, they haven’t been proven harmful yet. But, you know, Thalidomide was once touted as a cure for morning sickness, and look where that got the world.
The book says it best – “The way our food system is currently structured, it is practically impossible, short of growing your own food in filtered greenhouses, to eat food that is completely and thoroughly devoid of any synthetic chemicals.” After reading this book, I feel much like I did after watching “Super Size Me” for the first time. Basically, I feel like never eating anything ever again. Which, I think, is the point. As long as America stays lazy, nothing will ever change. Education – through books like this – is the first step.
Here’s hoping the two smart authors of this very smart book wind up getting some exposure during their upcoming media tour. (I, for one, think they’d be ideal guests on The Daily Show. Hint, hint.)