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The Cooperator's Bookshelf

Look out readers, we’re on the cusp of holidays, gift giving and winter cocooning! This month, with the help of Willy West General Merchandise Manager Lily Hoyer-Winfield, I’m bringing you some book and media suggestions to help get you through all that, and more. We want you to be inspired to cook better, be healthier, save the planet and live your values, co-op style!

Your Co-op has specifically included education as part of our bylaws. Section 2.2 says the Co-op will “integrate education about nutrition, the politics of food, general consumerism and cooperatives into its operations.” We do this with in-store classes, store signage, field trips, the Reader and our selection of printed offerings, namely books and magazines. It is also our stated policy to “source local, organic, natural, sustainable, humane, and fairly traded products.” I’ll pluck some words from these objectives to build a book list.


What I consider local includes local authors and the promotion of the shop/eat/live local philosophy. In the author category we have quite a few offerings; we are fortunate to have many talented authors and motivated organizations right here in Madison.

From Asparagus to ZucchiniFrom Asparagus to Zucchini, 3rd ed. (A to Z)
You just can’t get more local than From Asparagus to Zucchini, 3rd ed. (A to Z) by the Madison Area CSA Coalition, now called the Fairshare CSA Coalition. Fairshare is a non-profit organization headquartered in Madison that “supports and connects Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers and eaters” in south-central Wisconsin. The organization conducts many fun events with and for their farmers and eaters including Bike the Barns and farm to table dinners. Every spring they hold a CSA open house to kick off the upcoming growing season.

A to Z presents recipes for all the veggies you might get from a Wisconsin farm in a typical growing season. It is my most dog-eared cookbook (after my mom’s 1944 Good Housekeeping Cookbook) and if you come to me at the store for information about burdock or ramps, I’ll probably grab a copy for reference. The book was originally conceived and published in 1996, using grants and local funding sources (like the Willy Street Co-op) to help local farmers help their eaters with recipes and basic information on the sometimes-unfamiliar veggies in their CSA boxes. The need for this resource became obvious when the book quickly became popular all over the Midwest, then went national in sales. The Introduction to the 3rd edition (2004) is a fun history of the food book and its success over the years.

The book is divided into three sections, Food For Thought, The Vegetables, and Resources. I especially like the first section, a collection of thoughtful and concise essays that introduce “readers to the concept of community supported agriculture, takes a critical look at our current food system, and describes what it means to eat a more local and seasonal diet,” all in only 14 pages. You can read it all while your casserole bakes! The Vegetables section is alphabetized for ease of use; for each veggie there is a short description, seasonality, nutritional value, cooking tips, and storage tips. The recipes hail from local and other chefs, farmers and eaters, many of the prize-winning variety. Not sure what to do with Jerusalem artichokes or burdock? Look here. Need a recipe for daylily buds? Check the Wild Things pages. Most, but not all the recipes are meatless, and they tend to be simple to prepare, with the individual veggies the stars. For simpler still there is a section of kid’s recipes, if you want more complex recipes the section called Seasonal Combinations mixes the veggies up with meat, dairy and pasta.

This would be a terrific gift for someone new to cooking, or switching to a vegetarian or more veggie-friendly diet. Bundle it with a Fairshare Farm CSA share for a great “eat healthy” gift idea.

Farm-Fresh and FastFarm-Fresh and Fast
In 2013 the Fairshare CSA Coalition published a second book, Farm-Fresh and Fast. This book expanded the food options to include many varieties of fruit. The alphabetical classification is here replaced with plant anatomy; ingredients are organized in categories such as root vegetables, sweet fruits, stalks and shoots, etc., which allows the authors to highlight how similar produce items can be prepared and substituted for one another in recipes. Master recipes, say for a fruit compote or pesto, let the cook tailor a recipe to what they have on hand, namely what’s fresh and in season! There are even farm-inspired cocktails if you want to venture beyond celery sticks and olives in your drinks. Like A to Z there are lots of how-to tips, a glossary and structured menus. The “Fast” in the title refers to a promise to “have dinner on the table and ready to serve in under 60 minutes.” Whimsical hand-drawn illustrations and fonts are used throughout. Many Dane County professional chefs and others contributed their recipes. This is a book for the adventuresome, confident cook, yet not too complex for a beginner. With this book you could easily get together with friends and throw a themed dinner!

Six SpicesSix Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking
Madisonian and cooking instructor Neeta Saluja is well known around the Co-op. Her book, Six Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking (2007, 2014) is a best seller at the store. It’s rated G, or great for beginning to advanced cooks ready to try the ancient and exotic Indian cuisine. The book is praised for its simplicity and instructional value: she teaches how to cook along with the delicious recipes. Watch the Reader for Neeta Saluja’s classes at the Co-op, or find them on her Six Spices Facebook page.

The Pure KitchenThe Pure Kitchen, Clear the Clutter from Your Cooking with 100 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes
Another local woman is Hallie Klecker, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Educator, published cookbook author, journalist, and frequent Co-op teacher. Ms. Klecker delved into the world of gluten-, dairy-, soy- and sugar-free cooking after a period of ill health due to food sensitivities. Her book, The Pure Kitchen, Clear the Clutter from Your Cooking with 100 Gluten-Free, Diary-Free Recipes, promises to be a road map for “a way of life,” not just a diet. She advocates for a diet that “incorporates whole, natural, colorful foods and minimizes those that are processed and lacking nutrients” and minimizes or eliminates “known inflammatory triggers” like gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Her recipes cover everything from breakfast to dessert. She explains how to transition to whole foods from a processed food lifestyle, including how to plan, shop for and organize for a pure food kitchen, and bring your family (happily) into the program as well.

Super Healthy CookiesSuper Healthy Cookies: 50 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Delicious and Nutritious Treats
Ms. Klecker has a second book, Super Healthy Cookies: 50 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Delicious and Nutritious Treats, addressing the tricky arena of gluten-free baking. She also writes a gluten-free food blog called Daily Bites, and is the Editor of Simply Gluten Free, a periodical we sell here at the Co-op. Let’s face it, this woman’s ability to juggle so many ongoing projects testifies to her good diet!

Need gift ideas? Pair The Pure Kitchen with a set of bulk storage canisters to give to a gluten-free friend, or make a New Year’s resolution to eat more whole foods and buy the book for yourself. Are you dreading the annual sugary holiday cookie exchange? Make up triple batches of healthy cookies from the Super Healthy Cookies, enough to share and pile on your own plate to take back home! (Just don’t tell the kids.)

EnactEnAct: Steps to Greener Living
Are you ready to live greener but need some ideas? How about 1,000 of them in a pocket-sized package? Check out EnAct: Steps to Greener Living by Sonya Newenhouse, PhD,The book was developed for and published in Madison by EnAct, a free community program of the Madison Environmental Working Group, LLC (EWG is a private consulting firm that assists clients “build and live” green.)

The book encourages a team approach to greener living under the headings Conserve Energy, Waste Less, Save Water, Drive Less and Eat Well. Of particular interest are the pre- and post-program surveys to measure the impact of putting the program into action in your household or neighborhood. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer.

The Good Food RevolutionThe Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities
If you live in Wisconsin or follow food politics at all you have heard about Will Allen and the place/project/movement called Growing Power, based in Milwaukee. Mr. Allen, a MacArthur Genius grant recipient, is nationally recognized for his work on brownfields reclamation, the development of sustainable urban farming systems, and his dedication to food security for all urban residents. Not to mention feeding thousands from his innovative Milwaukee greenhouses. You can read about all this and more in his book, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities. For the young reader in your life, there’s Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, a biography for the preteen audience. Help start a revolution, or just a conversation, with either of these titles.

We also carry the local glossy magazines Madison Magazine and Brava, the Madison-based national political journal The Progressive, and the multi-faceted Wisconsin People and Ideas published by the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. If you want even more local reading material, our stores offer free papers and magazines for almost any interest!

Animal, Vegetable, MiracleAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Did you know that locavore was the Oxford University Press word of the year in 2007? Their definition of the word is “A person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or processed food.” The origin of the word is attributed to a group of women in Northern California; one of them, Jessica Prentice, recognized its use by Barbara Kingsolver, et al, in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007 ) as sealing the deal, making locavore the definitive label in a new food movement.

Barbara Kingsolver the novelist-turned-memoirist in her book about her family’s year-long experiment to grow or purchase all their food from sources as close to their farm in rural Virginia as possible. But that is an overly simplistic description of the contents of this book. It is also a well-researched treatise on the destructive nature of industrialized agriculture, a how-to on home cooking and food preservation, and a touching tribute to family and community bonds. The extraordinary quality of the writing resulted in the book garnering numerous prestigious national awards. If you or anyone you know has not read this book, I inviteyou to enjoy this not-to-be-missed classic soon.

Growing RootsGrowing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists
The last book I’m recommending in this category is one to peruse over many evenings, perhaps next to a crackling fire or just before turning out the lights. It’s called Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists (2010), by Katherine Leiner. The book profiles several dozen diverse young people, who are the present and future local and sustainable food movement. In addition to their stories, many told in the first person, there are 150 recipes embedded in the text. While there are a few celebrity names, like the Salatins and Anne Lappe, most of the folks she writes about are not in that category—except among their own regional constituents, where they are foodie super stars. Ms. Leiner racked up an impressive number of cross-country miles in the production of her book. I’m putting it in the local category because on page 104 she rolls into Wisconsin. She eats dinner at Harvest restaurant, visits a number of places you might recognize, and wraps up her Wisco part with an homage to morels. Then she’s off to Minnesota to talk wild rice with a woman on the White Earth Reservation. Among the activists she interviews are a Tulane University food security specialist and the producers of the documentary King Corn. This book is a fascinating reference!

When I was in college we used to speak of conservation as a primary goal of environmental management. Conservation as an activity hasn’t disappeared, but now sustainability in natural and human systems is the focus, and an ongoing human challenge.

Earth User's Guide to PermacultureThe Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture
We have many books related to sustainable, organic farming and gardening. Then there is a book that enlarges and deepens the topic: The Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture, 2nd Edition by Rosemary Morrow is a handbook for building sustainable food systems, forests (including suburban and urban forests) and human settlements using permaculture principles and practices. Ms. Morrow is Australian, and has spent a lifetime learning and teaching about permaculture worldwide. The book predictably and fortunately includes ideas from other parts of the world! I particularly like the chapters on the ethical and ecological underpinnings of permaculture. This is designed to be a book to not just read, but to actively do. This is another thoughtful selection for anyone with a passion to change their way of living whatever their present situation.

If you would like a steady diet of news and activities, we also carry the quarterly magazine, Permaculture Activist.

Mycelium RunningMycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World
Do you need a book for that friend who has everything? Consider Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World by Paul Stamets. It sounds like a tall order for the fungi, but Mr. Stamets, a respected mycologist, explains how mycotechnology can be used to attain biological sustainability, and why, “Without fungi, all ecosystems would fail.” The first part of the book covers mushroom biology, the second part explains mycorestoration (biotransforming stripped land), mycofiltration (creating habitat buffers), mycoremediation (healing chemically harmed environments), and mycoforestry (creating truly sustainable forests). Part three is a how-to manual for growing mycelia and mushrooms, including how you can use mycelia to boost yields in your home garden, or grow some tasty culinary ’shrooms.

“Food politics are the political aspects of the production, control, regulation, inspection, distribution and consumption of food. The politics can be affected by the ethical, cultural, medical and environmental disputes concerning proper farming, agricultural and retailing methods and regulations.” (Wikipedia) Most of the books about the local food movement touch on food politics, since local, or slow food, is the antithesis of big agriculture and industrialized food production. The classics in the category include Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto; Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser; and the seminal Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe, as salient today as it was standing, very much alone, in the cookbook genre, in 1971. Diet for a Small Planet was food politics before there was food politics.

New classics
We stock the classics and a few you may not have heard of. The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements, by Sandor Katz (of fermentation fame; he is the author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation). The premise of the revolution is that “In order to...stop the earth-killing machine of corporate global food we must strengthen and build movements for more sustainable, localized, healthy food.” In a similar vein as Growing Roots, the book about young food producers, Mr. Katz profiles the people and organizations that are leading the food revolution charge. Highly informative, the book is a valuable overview of issues and on-the-ground solutions. This could be the book that keeps your blood boiling in the cold winter to come.

Nourishing TraditionsNourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
Maybe you’d rather spend winter thinking about a bellyful of comfort food, the kind you may remember from the distant past. Take a look at Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon. Topics include “the health benefits of traditional fats and oils (including butter and coconut oil); dangers of vegetarianism; problems with modern soy foods; health benefits of sauces and gravies; proper preparation of whole grain products; pros and cons of milk consumption; easy-to-prepare enzyme enriched condiments and beverages; and appropriate diets for babies and children.” Ms. Fallon takes on Big Food, the FDA, the American Heart Association and modern nutritional dogma with a vengeance, relying on the work of Weston A. Price and others to support her theses. Ms. Fallon’s revolution will not be microwaved either, or enlist sugar and processed foods, but it will put bread and butter back on the table.

The Raw Milk RevolutionThe Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
A hot consumer topic in Wisconsin for several years has been raw milk, with numerous court cases brought by the state against small raw milk dairies. Despite some high profile court settlements last year, controversy and a certain amount of confusion remain. The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights by David E. Gumpert takes the reader back to 2006 when state and federal government agencies intensified their crackdown on raw milk dairies nationwide. Sally Fallon endorses this book, writing that Mr. Gumpert “provides an important record of systematic government bias against Nature’s perfect food.” But raw milk here is the starting point for a discussion of much larger issues such as industrial vs. small farming, government trampling of “food rights” in the guise of consumer protection and the surge of chronic disease in America. It’s hard to imagine a better book to start a food fight in the Dairy State.

As much as I’d like to keep going with this annotated book list, I’ve only got so much space to fill! I’ll leave you with a few titles to help inform your future consumer purchases.

A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic IngredientsA Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients
Ruth Winter, MS, has authored over 30 books on health and consumer topics. We carry two of them, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, 7th Edition: Complete Information About the Harmful and Desirable Ingredients Found in Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals, and A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, 7th Edition: Descriptions in Plain English of More Than 12,000 Ingredients Both Harmful and Desirable Found in Foods. Essential references for the serious label reader, the cosmetics book is also useful for those that make their own body care products.

Green Babies, Sage MomsGreen Babies, Sage Moms, and Green Kids, Sage Families
Lynda Fassa owns Green Babies, the world’s largest purveyor of organic cotton clothing for babies and children. Her passion for organic goes beyond clothing; she is the author of two books, Green Babies, Sage Moms, and Green Kids, Sage Families, both subtitled “the ultimate guide to raising your organic” baby or kids. These books are guides to “simple things that you can do to reduce your family’s exposure to toxins,” and reduce your impact on the environment. They both contain product recommendations and budget friendly green practices anyone can embrace from pregnancy forward. The first one is a natural for a baby shower gift. Ms. Fassa states a powerful truth in the introduction to Green Kids, Sage Families: “Your consumer power is the path to change.”

The selection at each store fluctuates. Please ask at the Health and Wellness desk for other titles and staff favorites on our shelves.

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