"The Town that Food Saved," 2010, Rodale Press, by Ben Hewitt. "On a sun-washed Vermont hillside on a late July afternoon, my face tilted into the day’s fading heat, I stood and listened to Tom Stearns as he expounded on the woes of modern agriculture. “Who’s the biggest user of energy? Agriculture! Who’s the biggest user of land? Agriculture! Who’s the biggest user of water? Agriculture! Who’s the biggest polluter? Agriculture!” He stabbed a finger in the air for emphasis. “All we have are models of broken plans to look at. Totally, completely broken.” He sipped from his beer, and turned to face me squarely. “In five years, we will have people from all over the planet visiting Hardwick to see what a healthy food system looks like.”
Tom and I were standing on the sprawling hillside lawn of Heartbeet Life Sharing, a residential farming community for special needs adults, who participate in all aspects of farm operations on the sloping 160-acres of field and forest. There was drumming and a bonfire and small children running across the sunlit lawn clutching rabbits to their chests. A small herd of cows grazed on pasture below the house, casting long shadows in the late afternoon light. Earlier in the day, there’d been a collective effort to construct a wood-fired stone-and-clay oven and now it sat drying, at once lumpen and graceful. If one were looking for an inspiring setting in which to discuss localized agriculture, with all its ancillary benefits of social good and pastoral beauty, one couldn’t have imagined a better stage.”
LINK: Ben Hewitt, a guy I skied with
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"Shell Games." 2010, Harper Collins. By Craig Welch. "Puget Sound sits south of the border between the U.S. and Canada and is home to the magnificent geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck"), the world's largest burrowing clam. Comically proportioned but increasingly fashionable as seafood, the geoduck has been the subject of pranks, TV specials, and gourmet feasts. But this shellfish is so valuable it is also traded for millions of dollars on the black market— a world where outlaw scuba divers dodge cops while using souped-up boats, night-vision goggles, and weighted belts to pluck the succulent treasures from the sea floor. And the greatest dangers come from rival poachers who resort to arson and hit men to eliminate competition and stake their claim in the geoduck market.
Detective Ed Volz spent his life chasing elk-antler thieves, bobcat smugglers, and eagle talon poachers. Now he was determined to find the kingpin of the geoduck underworld. He and a team of federal agents set up illegal sales, secretly recorded conversations, and photographed hand-offs from the bushes. For years, they tracked a rogues' gallery of lawbreakers, who eventually led them to the biggest thief of all— a darkly charming con man who called himself the "GeoduckGotti" and who worked both sides of the law.
In Shell Games, veteran environmental journalist Craig Welch delves into the wilds of our nation's waters and forests in search of some of America's most unusual criminals and the cops who are on a mission to take them down. This thrilling examination of the international black market for wildlife is filled with butterfly thieves, bear slayers, and shark-trafficking pastors— all part of one of the largest illegal trades in the world."
LINK: Craig Welch, a guy that I used to work with
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"Hooked, A thriller about love and other addictions." 2010, The Twelve. By Matt Richtel. "In August of 2003, I was processing the end of one intense personal relationship and acclimating to a new one. Coincidentally, I was covering Silicon Valley for the New York Times, immersing in tech world, and I conjured a not-especially-profound theory of modern life. I called it "the cell phone-orthodontist principle." The axiom states that if you're driving in a car alone, and run out of people to talk to, you'll eventually get so bored and desperate that you may call directory assistance to get the phone number of the person who attached your braces in junior high. "I love what you did with my teeth," you might say to your orthodontist, "Are you busy for the next 30 miles?"
What does the frenetic, digitally-enhanced pace of modern life and our need to be constantly stimulated have to do with my personal life, or yours?
When I sat down that August at a café and started writing the first pages of Hooked, I didn't intend to write a book. I was writing a story for myself -- to process, entertain, maybe distract. An excuse to drink sit at a café and drink hot chocolates. Quickly, I found myself conscious of an audience, but I was nervous I would not hold readers' attention. So I purposefully tried to write short chapters, ending them each with a hook, writing at a breakneck pace. A fast book for fast times and busy readers.
What became evident to me as the narrative took shape that I was constructing something broader than a fast-paced story. I am loathe to be more specific because I don't want to give away the twists in the book, but I hope the story articulates something relevant about the impact of the digital era on our personal lives. Might there be some profound similarities about the way we invest in and obsess about relationships, and in our email and mobile phones?"
LINK: Matt Richtel, a guy I knew in high school
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