An entertaining and informative memoir/self-help guide to living well on locally grown food.

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BLESSING THE HANDS THAT FEED US

WHAT EATING CLOSER TO HOME CAN TEACH US ABOUT FOOD, COMMUNITY, AND OUR PLACE ON EARTH

One woman's experiment to eat only local foods.

While grazing at a potluck table loaded with food, Robin (co-author: Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, 2008) decided to take up a local farmer's challenge to eat only the food she could provide herself. But after some more consideration, the author realized that might be too limited, so the plan expanded to include any food produced within a 10-mile radius. She planned to live on that and a few "exotics"—tea, salt, spices, oil, lemons and limes—for a month and see what happened. What unfolds in Robin's homey, conversational prose was far more significant than she ever expected. She sought to lose a few pounds, get healthier, make new friends, grow closer to nature, and gain a better understanding of the amount of physical, emotional and environmental energy required to produce food. The author encourages readers to explore their own relationships with food; examine how it was prepared and eaten during their childhoods; find what local sources of food exist in their neighborhoods; learn to cook from scratch for healthier and less expensive food; and figure out how to continue this new way of eating for far longer than just a month. Throughout the book, Robin includes helpful information on how to set up "Transition Towns…a citizen-led approach to bulking up community resilience, a tool for people who wake up to the power communities have to respond proactively as global resources, finance, and climate change prove ever more unstable.” Recipes from Robin's local growers round out this call-to-action plan to buy local and live healthier and more responsibly.

An entertaining and informative memoir/self-help guide to living well on locally grown food.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-02572-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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