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Book Reviews

RECLAIMING THE URBAN COMMONS

Anthology edited by Nick Rose and Andrea Gaynor (UWA Publishing 2018)

Review by Emily Stokes

As we continue to become a more urbanised society, the question of how we can live and eat well in our cities has never been more critical. This collection of real stories explores past histories of urban food production in Australia, plus we hear from current food production innovators on what they’re doing and why. Part One reflects the diversity in urban edible gardens, Part Two acknowledges the important role played by the permaculture movement in training a generation of urban gardeners and farmers, Part Three contains stories that represent the new face of urban agriculture in Australia, and Part Four ties it together with an urgent call for transformative change. This anthology shares the stories of those who have taken risks and learnt lessons along the way. It’s a source of inspiration and wisdom for those wanting to join this important journey to bring back a deeper connection between urban dwellers and their food, for now and future generations. Authors include many of Pip’s regular contributors including David Holmgren, Morag Gamble, Kat Lavers, Hannah Moloney, The Food Forest, Mariam Issa and more.

THE NOMA GUIDE TO FERMENTATION

By Ren. Redzepi and David Zilber (Artisan 2018)

Review by Emily Stokes

Named best restaurant in the world four times, Denmark’s Noma and its founders and chefs have been experimenting with fermentation for over a decade. Their first laboratory was in a boat moored outside the restaurant and then a dedicated space was built in converted shipping containers. Their fervent experimentation culminated in this beautifully put together book.

Whether you’re a fermentation enthusiast or novice, you will appreciate the history and science explained simply and thoughtfully. The recipes are clearly photographed at every step. Your eyes will be opened to a world of new possibilities, with lacto-fermented plums, coffee, apple or rose kombucha and celery or pear vinegar, to name just a few.

Use this book to broaden your horizons and ferment your own soy sauce, miso, koji and black garlic. This book has plenty of options to experiment using careful tutorials that will transform the way you ferment and eat at home.

THE SECRET NETWORK OF NATURE: THE DELICATE BALANCE OF ALL LIVING THINGS

By Peter Wohlleben (Vintage Publishing 2018)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

Peter Wohlleben is a German forester and author. In his previous books he studied the connections among trees and among animals, but in this book he brings them together and looks at the interconnectedness of nature as a whole and the destructive effect that humans are having on these connections.

Wohlleben reveals the many complex and unseen connections in the natural world that have been keeping our planet’s equilibrium finely balanced. He explores different examples of these connections, such as how wolves can alter the course of a river and how fish can be responsible for the growth of trees in a nearby forest.

In this book he demonstrates how the number of connections and relationships in nature are too numerous for humans to ever fathom nor truly understand and therefore it is impossible to ever be sure what effect our interference will have. Although these ideas aren’t new, Wohlleben highlights some interesting examples that help confirm what we already know; nature is most often, best left alone.

NOURISHING DIETS: HOW PALEO, ANCESTRAL AND TRADITIONAL PEOPLES REALLY ATE

By Sally Fallon Morell (Grand Central Life & Style 2018)

Review by Emily Stokes

Another well researched book from Sally Fallon Morell, digging deep into different cultural food practises, from Australian Aborigines who grew vast fields of grain and made it into bread, Japanese consuming large amounts of white rice alongside a diet rich in fish, organ meats, broth and seaweed, the Mediterranean diet of cured meat and raw milk cheeses, to Britain’s pre-Victorian era diet of organ meats, raw dairy, eggs, butter and bone broth.

According to Fallon Morell, all traditional diets had a common theme – they all contained full-fat, nutrient dense animal products with their fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2. She argues against the Blue Zones and The China Study diets which advocate plant-based eating, and examines the modern paleo diet and how this lean-meat, no-carb diet is in contrast to what people ate traditionally.

This book explains how traditional diets can be satisfying and delicious, and do not need to exclude any of the major food groups. It offers practical tips and recipes to bring these ideas to modern kitchens.

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