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Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America (2015)

af Liz Carlisle

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10614261,739 (3.86)30
Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness launched a campaign to push small grain farmers to modernize or perish, or as Nixon's secretary of agriculture Earl Butz put it, "get big or get out." But 27-year-old David Oien decided to take a stand when he dropped out of grad school to return to his family's 280-acre farm, becoming the first in his conservative Montana county to plant a radically different crop: organic lentils. A cheap, healthy source of protein and fiber, lentils are drought-tolerant and don't require irrigation. Unlike the chemically dependent grains American farmers had been told to grow, lentils make their own fertilizer and tolerate variable climate conditions, so their farmers aren't beholden to industrial methods. Today, Oien leads thriving movement of organic farmers who work with heirloom seeds and biologically diverse farm systems. Under the brand Timeless Natural Food, their unique business-cum-movement has grown into a million-dollar enterprise that sells to hundreds of independent natural food stores and a host of renowned restaurants. From the farm belt of red-state America comes this inspiring story of a handful of colorful pioneers who have successfully bucked the chemically-based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness's one percent by stubbornly banding together. Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves an eye-opening narrative that will be welcomed by everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world.--From publisher description.… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 13 (næste | vis alle)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My husband read it, then my daughter read it; now it's my turn. As the daughter and granddaughter of conventional farmers in Iowa, I am finding it fascinating. I would love to know what Dad would think of it. I think it's a great story; very easy to read. I find myself cheering on the lentil farmers.
  JDHofmeyer | Sep 13, 2017 |
All incoming freshmen at the University of Montana (where I work) are assigned a book to read and discuss during their first semester. This year, it's Lentil Underground by native Missoulian Liz Carlisle. Having known nothing about organic farming (or farming in general), I was unsure how I would like this book. However, because of Liz's easy to follow and conversational writing style, I was able to follow along with the story of the farmers who started the organic farming revolution in Montana (and it all started with lentils). I thought the processes she described were fascinating, and I learned so much! I hope that most of the students enjoy the book as well, and gain a new understanding and respect for those who work the Montana land. I'll be keeping an eye out for Timeless Seeds products in the grocery stores around town! ( )
  kaylaraeintheway | Aug 8, 2017 |
At first Carlisle was just documenting a quirky alternative farm business model in rural Montana. I enjoyed her "Ah-ha!" moment when she drew parallels between the health and vitality of living soil and the health and vitality of human community. This is a very hopeful book and I'm sure glad for those people who are working so hard to re-make our world before it's too late. Discusses many of the larger world issues of food distribution, government programs, community action, agricultural research.

Well done narrative and excellent content. ( )
  2wonderY | Mar 10, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Lentil Underground - Eat well and Prosper

Good books are good books, and a good read is always a rare and enjoyable time....AND every once in a long while a book comes along that is a life changer. The Lentil Underground is one of those rare books that may well change your whole outlook on a vital topic, American agriculture.

My wife and I are foodies and avid vegetable gardeners and we have long known that mainstream agriculture in the United States is just not right. While we are producing a huge amount of food in our country, almost all of it is of a questionable quality. Worse than that is that our methods are generally not sustainable for a growing population in a growing world. Huge applications of soluble fertilizers, much of which run off into local streams, tilling on a grand scale that dehumanizes the farmers who feed us all. Monoculture crops rather than diversity. All of these aspects are totally dependent on fossil fuel at every step of the way. All have the profit margin as the only guiding goal. None of these methods are sustainable. We are told by the big agribusiness industries that small farming methods can never feed the world and theirs is the only way. Liz Carlisle totally explodes that fantasy with her account of the faming group that she calls "the lentil underground'. A small and steadily growing group of real, family farmers who are producing good food at good prices. And, there is no need for concern that when you buy from them you are despoiling the environment. Probably the greatest thing about the book is that it introduces you to a bunch of real people - foodies - who make their living feeding folks while improving the very land they feed us from! Get to know them a little, maybe even talk to them (yes they are reachable) and you'll find very quickly that they are a hard working and friendly bunch who will be happy to connect you with other safe and sustainable sources for the foods they don't grow. Need beans or grains, the very staples of life? Want to know where what you eat comes from and who grows and handles it? Like good tasty foods produced with love and sweat? Read this book! Good things ARE happening in American agriculture and the Lentil Underground is a great, eye opening, fun to read book. ( )
1 stem lenbehr | Nov 11, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As someone who is interested in sustainable food production. I thought this was an interesting chronicle of a small group of farmers struggles to challenge the generally accepted methods of food production. This is not a practical guide for someone who is looking o transition their farm. I think this book would be Highly readable even by those who are not particularly familiar with the intricacies of farming. Let the Revolution begin! ( )
  madhatr | Sep 16, 2015 |
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It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. -Thich Nhat Hanh
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Doug and Anna named their new place Vilicus Farms, after the Latin word for farmer, or rather the other Latin word for farmer. Most Latin textbooks used agricola, which translated to English as "one who labors on the land," Doug explained. But he and Anna preferred vilicus, which more nearly described their notion of a farmer: One who belonged to the land and was honor bound to care for it.
It was an epiphany for me ... that I would much rather grow a low-yielding, high value crop than a high-yielding, low-value crop ...most of the high-yielding crops aren't food in the first place.
While (the Greek) sozo was typically translated as "salvation," Jody explained, he and Crystal were particularly fond of its extended definition: "to heal, preserve, and make whole."
The fundamental ecological processes that supported farms were the same ones that supported national parks. So if farmers managed for these basic environmental goods - nutrient cycling, natural pest control, carbon sequestration - they could grow food and steward the land at the same time. Nature and agriculture weren't competitors. They were symbiotic.
Getting back in touch with ourselves as biological farmers rather than industrial ones isn't just a technical matter. It's a wholesale shift. Entire farm communities need to adopt the ways of the dynamic world underground, where the long haul is what really matters and a shared prosperity is the only kind there is.
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Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness launched a campaign to push small grain farmers to modernize or perish, or as Nixon's secretary of agriculture Earl Butz put it, "get big or get out." But 27-year-old David Oien decided to take a stand when he dropped out of grad school to return to his family's 280-acre farm, becoming the first in his conservative Montana county to plant a radically different crop: organic lentils. A cheap, healthy source of protein and fiber, lentils are drought-tolerant and don't require irrigation. Unlike the chemically dependent grains American farmers had been told to grow, lentils make their own fertilizer and tolerate variable climate conditions, so their farmers aren't beholden to industrial methods. Today, Oien leads thriving movement of organic farmers who work with heirloom seeds and biologically diverse farm systems. Under the brand Timeless Natural Food, their unique business-cum-movement has grown into a million-dollar enterprise that sells to hundreds of independent natural food stores and a host of renowned restaurants. From the farm belt of red-state America comes this inspiring story of a handful of colorful pioneers who have successfully bucked the chemically-based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness's one percent by stubbornly banding together. Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves an eye-opening narrative that will be welcomed by everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world.--From publisher description.

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