The guide is divided into four sections. The sections are organized into self-contained chapters which allow readers to look up just what interests them, if they cannot manage the entire book. The first section covers basic nutrition, the economics of dryland gardens, the justification for household gardens as a viable development strategy and techniques for assessing whether gardens are appropriate in a given situation. Section Two emphasizes the management of dryland gardens as ecological systems through descriptions of indigenous practices and specific suggestions for managing water, plants, pests and diseases. In Section Three the authors cover harvesting, food processing and storage, and seed saving. The final section includes a glossary of the garden species mentioned in the text, a list of resource organizations and references.
"food from dryland gardens" is an important resource for development workers, both for its ideological emphasis on self-reliance and sustainability and its technical content.
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The bulk of the book focuses on 22 leafy plants found in the South Pacific. Numerous photos and diagrams in combination with concise text outline the properties and nutrient compositions of these vegetables, preferred growing conditions, and nutrient-preserving cooking methods. Bailey is the first to analyze the nutrient properties of many of these plants.
A concluding paragraph speculates on the future of leaves and the type of research needed to understand their disease-preventative properties. The analytic methodology used to determine the nutrient content of leaves is detailed in an appendix. A second appendix includes bar charts comparing the various properties of all the leaves he describes. In "The Leaves We Eat," Bailey makes a strong case for an increase in the growth and consumption of leafy vegetables worldwide.
"pesticides in diets" zeroes in on agriculture in the U.S., raising as many questions as it answers, particularly about research methods used for assessing pesticide toxicity. One is left with the uneasy feeling that we know all too little about the effects of pesticides on children. Readers may conclude that more research is needed, or that a total ban on pesticide use might be the least costly route to take. Few but the most cynical will doubt the objectivity and credibility of this work. Nevertheless, some conclusions will be used in different contexts by skeptics and extremists alike; e.g "There is no comprehensive data source, derived from actual sampling, on pesticide residue levels in the major foods consumed by infants and children."
Where do we go from here? The National Research Council recommends additional research on pesticides. At least, the NRC should be commended for a straightforward effort to synthesize the available information on pesticide research in the U.S. At best, we all should read this book.
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