Core agricultural reading: results

lewa0003 at lewa0003 at
Sun Mar 17 21:33:59 EST 1996

Several weeks ago I requested the names of your favorite 
(non-academic) books about agriculture and our food system.  
Many thanks to the seventeen of you who responded.  

Below are the unsorted titles that people sent me.  
At the end are other good sources of agricultural books. 

Thanks again for your help.

-Ann Lewandowski
lewa0003 at

Louis Bromfield's books
Wes Jackson,  "Altars of Unhewn Stone"
Bill Duesing, edited by Suzanne Duesing, "Living on the Earth"
"Plowman's Folly," and "A Second Look," both by Edward H. Faulkner
"Shattering" by Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney, 1990 
   An excellent, readable, and comprehensive exploration of the 
   issues surrounding the loss of genetic diversity.
"Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn 1992
"An Acres U.S.A. Primer"  Charles Walters, Jr. and C.J. Fenzau
Jane Gussow, "Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce & Agriculture."
"So Shall You Reap: Farming and Crops in Human Affairs"
by Otto T. and Dorothy Solbrig
1994  Shearwater Books / Island Press
   Presents a general account on the co-evolution of agriculture,  
   agricultural crops and human societies.    A nice mix of general 
   historical overview, vignettes, and information about crop plants.
   I used it in an undergraduate course and the students loved it.
"Science in Agriculture," Arden  Anderson

ED. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J. 740p.

This is an ecologically-oriented revision of the book that has the 
standard treatise on soils since the 1920s. The most authoritative
book on
all aspects of sustainable soil management.  With lots of
references and  diagrams, the book is still very readable for the
person with a good high school education in basic science. Includes
extensive information on soil organic matter managment, soil life and
organic and inorganic fertilizer materials, compsting, soil quality,
profiles, soil conservation, water management, tilth, and the like.

University of
Nebraska Press. 176 p

This is a small, but practical book that explains the basics of
soil organic matter to improve soil quality. This very readable book
on soil management as particularily relevant for grain and livestock
David B. Danbom. Born in the Country: A History of Rural America. 
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
    A general history of agriculture and rural life in the United
    from Colonial times through the present. By necessity, there's not
    lot of detail, but it covers a lot of ground. Would make a decent
    text for a course in U.S. ag history.

Willard W. Cochrane. The Development of American Agriculture: A
    Historical Analysis. Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1993.
    A classic. Primarily an economic orientation, but plenty of
coverage of
    social concerns, too. Lots of detail, particularly on role of
    technology in ag development.

James R. Shortridge. The Middle West: Its Meaning in American Culture.
    Univ. Press of Kansas, 1989.
    A nice little book, especially for Midwesterners. Basic premise is
    the Middle West is what and where you think it is, and that what
    think it is is complicated by its being both breadbasket and

William Cronon. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West.
    Norton, 1991.
    A social/economic history of the development of Chicago. Main
    the city depended on its hinterland as much as the other way
    Interesting stuff.

John Fraser Hart. The Land That Feeds Us: The Story of American
    Farming.Norton, 1991.
    Definitely not academic. Accounts of farming from regions around
    country. Highlights cultural and practical differences. Some
    interesting history, too.

National Research Council. Alternative Agriculture. National Academy
    Press, 1989.
    Analysis of alternatives to conventional ag production in the
    Not basic, but not that hard to read, either.

Gary Comstock (ed.). Is There a Moral Obligation to Save the 
Family Farm? Iowa State University Press, 1987.
    A series of essays on the title topic by economists, sociologists,
    philosophers, farmers, and others. Lists of suggested readings,
too. A
    must for those interested in the "family farm" question.

Marty Strange. Family Farming: A New Economic Vision. Univ of Nebraska
    Press, 1988.
    Read this one along with the previous two.

>From Land to Mouth: Understanding the Food System
Brewster Kneen. NC Press.
   An excellent overview of the *logic* behind the modern food system,
   distancing, uniformity, and continuous flow. This book is the basis
   most of my studies.

New Roots for Agriculture
Wendell Berry. Sierra Club
   Essays on the history of the development of agribusiness and the
of farmers.

The Intimate Commodity
Anthony Winson. Garamond Press
   Similar to above, only Canadian history.

A Garden of Unearthly Delights
Robin Mather. Dutton
   A very accessible account of the *pros* and cons of biotechnology.
well written and entertaining -- more ethnographic than agricultural,
quite relevant.

The New Organic Grower
Eliot Coleman
   Don't just read about it, do it! Agricultural tehcniques for
A classic collection is Joan Gussow's The Feeding Web (1978).

Also, Brewster Kneen's From Land to Mouth- Understanding the Food
System (1993)   
and Planting the Future- Developing an Agriculture that Sustains 
Land and Community edited by Bird, Bultena, and Gardner.
Mothers & Others has written a practical consumer guide called "The
Way We
Grow: Good-Sense Solutions to Protecting Our Families From Pesticides
Food" (Berkley Books, 1993, $8.95, 90 pages). It covers current
methods of
food production, sustainable agriculture as a new food system, actions
take to protect families, farmers and the environment (how to get
and local food into supermarkets, restaurants, etc.), and includes a
foreword by T. Berry Brazelton, MD.
All of the Wendell Berry books: 
   "The Unsettling of America" 
   something like, "Sex, Community and ..."
  "The Gift of Good Land"

We review such books regularly in the Book Stall department of
Market Online (marketfarm at Here's a few we've reviewed and
found of
value recently.

A Garden Of Unearthly Delights:
Bioengineering and the Future of Food
by Robin Mather
Dutton, 1995, $23.95 cloth.

   As an advocate of sustainable agriculture, Mather approaches the
issue of
   bioengineered food products with a skeptical and often critical

Gardner. 164 pp. AEI Press, 1995. $29.95 cloth.

   As Congress pushes its "Freedom to Farm" act toward the President's
   this volume provides some timely reading. Published by the American
   Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, it contains the
results of
   two studies on U.S. agricultural poicies that provide insight into
   politics of and options for the 1995 Farm Bill.

THE ORCHARD ALMANAC: A Seasonal Guide to Healthy Fruit Trees, by Steve
and Joe Smillie. 176 pp. AgAccess, 1995. $16.95 paper plus $4 shipping
agAccess, P.O. Box 2008, Davis, CA 95617; fax (916)756-7188.

   Growing sweet, unblemished and bug-free fruit is never easy; doing
it with
   little or no chemical inputs is downright difficult. As any
   orchardist is well aware, organic growers deserve whatever premiums
they seek.

A Guide to Culinary Online Services
by Gary Holleman.
Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1995.

   In a vocation as tangible and personal as cooking, it may be
surprising to
   discover how many professional chefs not only own computers, but
are actively
   cruising the Internet and various bulletin board systems. This book
   written for chefs and other food service people who are already
online, or
   who plan to go that direction soon; it is their cyberspace
guidebook, no
   matter how experienced.

SO SHALL YOU REAP:Farming and Crops in Human Affairs
Otto T. Solbrig and Dorothy J. Solbrig
Island Press, ISBN 1-55963-308-5

   "Only in the last 200 years have agriculturists come to dominate
the planet,"
   note Harvard biologist Otto Solbrig and biology librarian Dorothy
Solbrig. In
   their co-authored history of farming, So Shall You Reap, they
detail the
   gradual emergence of agriculture and how it changed human history
and the
   world's environment. 

Gene Logsdon
Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 
$21.95 cloth, ISBN 0-930031-67-9

   Much of Logsdon's writing, particularly in The Contrary Farmer, is
meant to
   inspire people to buy a small plot of land, till its soil, grow a
   or two, and to invest themselves in the local community. He offers
   advice on mulching, raising hogs, building ponds, cutting firewood
   and other skills of rural life, but most importantly he provides a
   philosophical framework for a fulfilling life outside of mainstream

AT NATURE'S PACE:Farming and the American Dream
Gene Logsdon
Pantheon Books, $23 cloth,
ISBN 0-0679-42741-4

   The collection of essays in At Nature's Pace argue against
   megafarms, which are moving toward an economic and biological
crisis, in
   favor of frugal and sustainable cottage farms. Logsdon envisions a
return to
   the kind of farming practiced before farmers became obsessed with
   their acreages, increasing their profits and living more like city

The 2 volume set of "Albrecht Papers".  (From ACRES USA at 1 800 355
   He was one of the world experts on soil and plant/animal nutrition,
from the U of MO. 
   He did major and vital work about a generation ago; still highly

These are more philosophical than practical.  I am not sure that they
are still in print.

        Hyams, Edward
        Soil and Civilization
        Harper Colophon Books, 1976.  rev. ed

        Carter, Vernon Gill & Tom Dale
        Topsoil and Civilization
        University of Oklahoma Press, 1974


Several people recommended Acres USA as an excellent source of
ag books:  "They have a lot of really good books on agriculture, both
practical and philosophical.  Some are published by ACRES, USA
and some are brokered through them."
   Acres USA: 504-889-2100, fax 504-889-2777, 
   PO Box 8800 
   Metarie, Louisiana 70011-8800
   One person provided the following toll-free number: 
     1 800 355 5313.  (This might be meant primarily for orders.)  
Request the booklist from agAccess at terrific catalog!
by email. They respond within 24 hrs with a fat file of excellent

Also, contact the Price-Pottinger foundation  PO Box 2614, LaMesa, CA
91943-2614   (619) 574 
We review such books regularly in the Book Stall department of
Market Online (marketfarm at  Farmer's Market Online,
is available by e-mail free of charge on request to
marketfarm at
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center/ National 
Agricultural Library publish an annual "Sustainable Agriculture in 
Print: Current Books".  It lists recent books added to the library 
collection and gives a brief description of each.  Printed copies are

You may also see this publication (and previous editions...they don't 
overlap) via their www homepage:

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library, ARS, USDA
Room 304
10301 Baltimore Blvd.
Beltsville  MD  20705-2351
301-504-6409 FAX

   Books Purchased in 1992-1993 by Center for Sustainable
   Agricultural Systems, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
            (available through UNL Libraries)
                         June 1993

1991-1992 Green Index: A State-by-State Guide to the Nation's
  Environmental Health.  Hall, Bob and Mary Lee Kerr (1992)
2020 Visions: Long View of a Changing World.  Carlson, Richard and
  Bruce Goldman (90)
A Farmer's Guide to On-Farm Research.  Janke, Rhonda (90)
After the Green Revolution: Sustainable Agriculture for
  Development.  Conway, Gordon R. and Edward Barbier (90)
Agriculture Beyond 2000.  Poostchi, Iraj (92)
Agroecology.  Carroll, C. Ron, John H. Vandermeer and Peter M.
  Rosset, ed. (90)
Agroecology: Researching the Ecological Basis for Sustainable
  Agriculture.  Gliessman, Stephen (90)
Alternative Agriculture: Scientists' Review.  Council for
  Agricultural Science and Technology (90)
Alternative Agriculture.  National Research Council (89)
Appropriate Biotechnology in Small Scale Agriculture: How to
  Reorient Research and Development.  Bunders, Joske F.G. and
  Jacqueline E.W. Broerse, ed. (91)
Biodiversity.  Wilson, E. O., ed. (88)
Cereal-Legume Cropping Systems: Nine Farm Case Studies in the
  Northern Plains, Canadian Praries and Intermountain Northwest.
  Matheson, Nancy (91)
Conservation of Natural Resources: A Resource Mangement Approach.
  Castillon, David A. (92)
Conserving the World's Biological Diversity.  McNeely, Jeffrey,
  Kenton R. Miller, Walter V. Reid, Russel Mittermeier and Timothy
  B. Werner (90)
Crop Residue Management for Conservation: Proceedings of a National
  Conference.  Soil and Water Conservation Society (91)
Cycles of Soil: Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Sulfur,
  Micronutrients.  Stevenson, F. J. (86)
Data Analysis in Community and Landscape Ecology.  Jongman, R.H.G.,
  C.J.F. Braak and O.F.R. van Tongeren, ed. (87)
Defending the Future: A Guide to Sustainable Development.
  Holmberg, Johan, Stephen Bass and Lloyd Timberlake (91)
Educational Renaissance: Our Schools at the Turn of the Twenty
 -First Century.  Cetron, Marvin and Margaret Gayle (91)
Effects of Conservation Tillage on Ground Water Quality.  Logan,
  Terry J., James M. Davidson and Michael R. Overcash (87)
Empty Harvest: Understanding the Link Between Our Food, Our
  Immunity, and Our Planet.  Jensen, Bernard and Mark Anderson
Energy and the Environment in the 21st Century.  Tester, Jefferson
  W., David O. Wood and Nancy A. Ferrari, ed. (91)
Energy and the Ecological Economics of Sustainability.  Peet, John
Environmental Effects of Stabilization and Structural Adjustment
  Programs: the Phillippines Case.  Cruz, Wilfrido and Robert
  Repetto (92)
Family Farming, a New Economic Vision.  Strange, Marty (88)
Farming in Nature's Image: An Ecological Approach to Agriculture.
  Soule, Judith D. and Jon K. Piper (92)
Farming, Fertilizers and the Nitrate Problem.  Addiscott, T.M.,
  A.P. Whitemore and D.S. Powlson (91)
Fertile Soil: A Grower's Guide to Organic and Inorganic
  Fertilizers.  Parnes, Robert (90)
>From the Ground Up: Wisconsin Sustainable Farmers Tell of Their
  Practice and Vision.  Irwin, Mike (90)
Getting Tough: Public Policy and the Management of Pesticide
  Resistance.  Dover, Michael and Brian Croft (84)
Global Diversity Strategy: Guidelines for Action to Save, Study,
  and Use Earth's Biotic Wealth Sustainably and Equitably.
  World Resources Institute (92)
Green Fields Forever: The Conservation Tillage Revolution in
  America.  Little, Charles E. (87)
Growing Our Future: Food Security and the Environment.  Smith,
  Katie and Tetsunao Yamamori, ed. (92)
Guidelines for Increasing Fish and Wildlife on Farms and Ranches:
  With Ideas for Supplemental Income Sources for Rural Families.
  Henderson, Robert, ed. (88)
Harvest of Hope: The Potential for Alternative Agriculture to
  Reduce Pesticide Use.  Curtis, Jennifer (91)
Healthy Harvest: A Directory of Sustainable Agriculture and
  Horticulture Organizations.  Healthy Harvest Society (92)
Imperiled Planet: Restoring Our Endangered Ecosystems.  Goldsmith,
  Edward, Peter Bunyard, Nicholas Hildyard and Patrick McCully (90)
In Praise of Nature.  Mills, Stephanie, ed. (90)
Intensive Grazing Management: Forage, Animals, Men, Profits.
  Smith, Burt, Pingsun Leung and George Love (86)
Landscape Linkages and Biodiversity.  Hudson, Wendy E. (91)
Learning to Listen to the Land.  Willers, Bill, ed. (91)
Lessons from Nature: Learning to Live Sustainably on the Earth.
  Chiras, Daniel D. (92)
Livestock Health and Nutrition Alternatives: Proceedings of a
  Western States Conference.  Hilander, Sally K., ed. (91)
Meeting the Expectations of the Land: Essays in Sustainable
  Agriculture and Stewardship.  Jackson, Wes, Wendell Berry and
  Bruce Colman, ed. (84)
Megatrends 2000: Ten New Directions for the 1990's.  Naisbitt, John
  and Patricia Aburdene (90)
No-tillage Farming/Minimum Tillage Farming.  Young, H.M. and
  William Hayes (82)
Nature Tourism: Managing for the Environment.  Whelan, Tensie, ed.
New Roots for Agriculture.  Jackson, Wes (80)
Our Country, the Planet: Forging a Partnership for Survival.
  Ramphal, Shridath (92)
Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st
  Century.  Toffler, Alvin (90)
Prescriptions for Healthy Farm Animals.  Herrick, Dr. John B. (91)
Preserving Communities and Corridors.  Macintosh, Gay (89)
Private Lands Wildlife Management: A Technical Guidance Manual and
  Correspondence Course.  Barnes, T.G. (92)
Protective Plantation Technology.  Kaifu, Xiang, Shi Jiachen, N.W.
  Baer and J.W. Sturrock, ed. (90)
Research Priorities for Conservation Biology.  Soule, Michael E.
  and Kathryn A. Kohm (89)
Resourceful Farming: A Primer for Family Farmers.  The Small Farm
  Resources Project, Center for Rural Affairs (87)
Rural Environmental Planning for Sustainable Communities.  Sargent,
  Frederic O., Paul Lusk, Jose Rivera and Maria Varela (91)
State of the World 1992.  Brown, Lester R., et al.  (World
  Resources Institute) (91)
Steady-State Economics: Second Edition with New Essays.  Daly,
  Herman E. (91)
Sucessful Small-Scale Farming: An Organic Approach.  Schwenke, Karl
Sustainable Agriculture: A Brighter Outlook for Fish and Wildlife.
  Robinson, Ann Y. (90)
Sustainable Agricultural Systems.  Edwards, Clive A., Rattan Lal,
  Patrick Madden, Robert H. Miller and Gar House, ed. (90)
Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise 1993.  Sustainable
  Agriculture Network (National Ag Library) (93)
Sustainable Agriculture in Temperate Zones.  Francis, Charles A.,
  Cornelia Butler Flora and Larry D. King, ed. (90)
Switching to a Sustainable System: Strategies for Converting from
  Conventional/Chemical to Sustainable/Organic Farming Systems.
  Kirschenmann, Frederick (88)
Teacher's Guide to World Resources 1992-93.  World Resources
  Institute (92)
The Farmer's Fertilizer Handbook: How to Make Your Own NPK
  Recommendation.  Cramer, Craig, ed. (86)
The River of the Mother of God.  Leopold, Aldo.  Susan L. Flander
  and J. Baird Callicott, ed. (91)
The Changing Atmosphere: A Global Challenge.  Firor, John (90)
The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques
  for the Home and Market Gardener.  Coleman, Eliot (89)
The Philosophy and Practice of Wildlife Management.  Gilbert,
  Frederick F. and Donald G. Dodds (92)
Tools for Organic Farming: A Manual of Appropriate Equipment and
  Treatments.  McRobie, George, ed. (90)
Transforming Technology: An Agenda for Environmentally Sustainable
  Growth in the Twenty-first Century.  Heaton, George, Robert
  Repetto and Rodney Sobin (91)
Unwelcome Harvest: Agriculture and Pollution.  Conway, Gordon R.
Wildlife and Habitats in Managed Landscapes.  Rodiek, Jon E. and
  Eric G. Bolen, ed. (90)
Windbreak Technology: Proceedings of an International Symposium.
  Brandle, J.R., D.L. Hintz and J.W. Sturrock, ed. (88)
World Resources 1992-1993.  World Resources Institute (92)

Ann Lewandowski
lewa0003 at
fax: (612)624-1044
Lawrence F. London, Jr.  Venaura Farm  InterGarden InterGarden PermaSphere AGINFO
lflondon at  london at

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