Food From Dryland Gardens

This easy-to-use guide blends philosophy with practicality into a hands-on manual for field workers, extension agents, students, project workers and program planners. Clear text and excellent drawings lead the reader through a series of cognitive and technical steps to designing and implementing sustainable garden projects in drylands. More process than prescription, methods advocated are socially and environmentally sustainable and rely on indigenous knowledge and participation. "Food from Dryland Gardens" describes the basic principles of nutrition, agriculture, ecology and social science, provides examples of indigenous gardening and encourages development workers to experiment and adapt their practices to local situations, emphasizing the link between gardens, health and people.

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.

Cleveland, D. and Soleri, D. 1991. Food from Dryland Gardens: An Ecological, Nutritional and Social Approach to Small-Scale Household Food Production. Tucson, AZ. Center for People, Food and Environment. 387 Pages. ISBN# 0-9627997-0-X

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P.O. Box 2008
Davis, CA 95617, USA
Tel: (916) 756-7177
Fax: (916) 756-7188. $25.95.

Edible Leaves

All you ever needed to know about the Leaves We Eat (in the South Pacific at least) is available in this little book. Heart warming photos of children in vegetable gardens and informative technical drawings make this handbook a delightful and useful read for agriculture, health and nutrition educators in all Pacific Island countries. The first chapter describes the anatomy and function of leaves and their adaptations to various climates. This is followed by a discussion of the health benefits of eating green leafy vegetables and how to maximize these benefits. The medicinal properties of certain vegetables are also discussed.

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.

Bailey, J. 1992. The Leaves We Eat. South Pacific Commission, Handbook No. 31. Noumea, Caledonia.

Pesticides in Children's Food

Consumer advocates and concerned parents will devour the contents of "Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children." They will find the taste bitter and troubling. Cover to cover, the focus of this report is research conducted to date on the potential effects of pesticides on the Earth's future, otherwise known as our children. This book is not light reading. But, if interpretation of data on a vital issue facing agriculture today is one's fancy, this is surely a must read.

"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.

National Research Council. 1993. Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. Washington, D.C., National Academy Press. 408 pages. ISBN#0-309-04875-3. $47.95 in USA, $57.95 outside USA.

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The National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20418. USA
Tel: (202) 334-3180
Fax: (202) 334-2793