Here are a few of the books I've been reading in the last few months in a continuing effort to understand how we, as Americans ( 'The Most Powerful Nation In The World' ), have come to the point where industrially grown/processed/packaged/microwaved foods have become the norm.
Starting from the bottom, I picked up this 1914 Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture at a book sale a few weeks ago. It provides an interesting snapshot of American farm life at the time. One article, titled Clean Water And How To Get It On The Farm, describes a scene ( with accompanying grainy photograph ) of how not to get it:
The rather small area shown comprised a hogpen, chicken yard, and cow lot, and contained a barn, manure pile, open privy, chicken house and a shallow dug well. The pump is of the old wooden type and is located at the foot of the stairs to the back porch. Waste water and slops are dumped into a small ditch presumably intended to drain away from the house and well,but which as a matter of fact fails to drain at all.
Let It Rot by Stu Campbell ( the 3rd book down ) is subtitled The Home Gardener's Guide to Composting. It's a nice light introduction to composting circa the 70's, and despite frequent references to God and quotes from the bible, is a useful little book. Campbell wraps up his introduction with this...."It's time for all of us to discover the larger benefits and cosmic beauty of little earthly things like composting." Hallelujah.
There is a gardening movement afoot using only plant-based fertilizers ( replacing bone meal, blood meal, animal manure and such )...I love this idea ! I've been wondering about all the pharmaceuticals fed to livestock...how much of that gets taken up by plants, and in what form ? Veganic gardening seems like a nice way around all that and yet another way to keep things simple.