By Ernest Herndon
As soon as I got into the introduction of Canoeing Mississippi by Ernest Herndon I realized that this was not just a book for canoeing enthusiasts. Anyone interested in our natural state, our abundance and variety of rivers, will find the armchair travel delightful.
You might not immediately associate Mississippi with canoeing but Herndon describes over 2,000 miles of waterways. Yes, some of these streams are muddy and mosquito filled, but Herndon does Mississippians a great service by describing the variety of rivers we have: the 150-mile long Chunky River which makes its way through rocky cliffs into the Buckatunna; the heavily wooded Leaf River; the whitewater Okatoma; the Tangipahoa which flows into Lake Ponchartrain; the 400-mile long Pearl River running from Northeast Mississippi all the way to the Honey Island Swamp, including the beautiful Bogue Chitto River as its tributary; our Gulf Coast terrain, with its complex, ever-changing Wolf River, and, of course, the “Mighty” Mississippi.
If you decide to leave your armchair for the canoe, you’ll benefit from Herndon’s 30-plus years of experience canoeing in Mississippi. You’ll learn about boats and gear, paddle strokes, camping and navigation, and you also will find Canoeing Mississippi to be an abundant source of history and adventure stories, geology, wildlife, ecology and fishing techniques.
Reviewed by Lisa Newman
Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
By Michael Moss
Salt, Sugar, Fat is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Michael Moss. The book is the result of Moss’ curiosity about and outrage at why Americans are succumbing to diabetes (26 million Americans), why one in five children in our nation is considered obese, and why the U.S. budget for what he calls the “health crisis” is $300 billion a year. After extensive research and interviews with food industry representatives from Coca-cola, Nabisco, Kraft, Kellogg, Nestle and more, Moss exposes the machinations of these industries to produce foods that are so hard to resist that they are in fact addictive, and are at the heart of the nation’s obesity trend.
Moss cites many studies done by the food companies after the public psyche turned to concern that our grocery stores are filled with killer foods. As people began to demand healthier alternatives to many processed foods, the food industry learned that they could engineer foods to maximize how they would be craved by changing the ratios of fat, sugar and salt. He describes the importance to the industry of creating what is called the “bliss point” or the point where we reach the highest pleasure in and craving for a food.
The book is fascinating, and eye opening. Moss concludes that we need to be more conscious of what we eat, aware that our diets can be manipulated by the food industry, and informed so we make better choices of the food we eat.
Reviewed by Pat Hall
The Man Who Planted Trees
By Jim Robbins
The story begins when “New York Times” contributor Jim Robbins read an article about the Champion Tree Project, an effort aimed at cloning all 826 species of trees in the United States from champion trees, or the fittest trees of each species. The Champion Tree Project was the brainchild of David Milarch, a humble shade-tree nurseryman from Michigan. Milarch began the project following a near-death experience after which he received a message that “the big trees were dying” and his job was to do something about it. You might be thinking, as Robbins did when Milarch told him the story, is this guy for real? Robbins explains that this was “the most unusual origin of a science story [he’d] ever heard.”
Over the years Robbins kept in contact with Milarch and pursued the questions inspired by Milarch’s effort to nurture our planet with trees: How do trees communicate with each other? How do trees and to what extent do they filter water and air for all life on the planet? How do trees prosper and how do they die? The result is a lively and urgent exploration of how as our climate changes, the right trees planted in the right places, for the right reasons just might save our planet.
The story of David Milarch and the Champion Tree Project is a passionate testament to the power of one and the ability of a grass roots effort to stimulate a scientific community often stymied by their own expertise. The Man Who Planted Trees, printed on 100% post consumer fiber, is as pleasurable as it is educational.
Reviewed by Lisa Newman
Home Made Summer
By Yvette van Boven
Summer is upon us. The grill is ready, and now what we need is a way to keep the kitchen cool while wowing our guests gastronomically. Home Made Summer cookbook, explores ways to make summer meals fun again.
The first Home Made cookbook, written by Yvette van Boven, was published a few years ago. Her recipes are geared towards the do-it-yourself cook, and often have a flavor of Irish and French cooking. Home Made Winter was chock full of recipes for comfort food. Home Made Summer, which has just arrived, prepares us for the sweltering days ahead. In her introduction the author says, “on hot summer days, few people are keen on spending long hours in the kitchen.” We concur.
This cookbook is organized rather unusually, with the breakfast, lunch and teatime recipes coming first, followed by drinks, many of which include tonics and cooling remedies for hot summer days. Finally come the wonderful main courses and desserts. You’ll find inspiration for the barbecue, accompanying salads that are a cinch to prepare, cold soups, and beverages that capture the flavor of the summer.
Many of the recipes in Home Made Summer involve little cooking time. In the summer months when we are eager to spend our energy with our family and friends, not in the kitchen, this cookbook helps us do exactly that.
Reviewed by Kelly Pickerill