Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

Two Percent for the Planet: Regeneration and Resilience, by Courtney White (BOOK REVIEW)

61lwr7wyTYL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_When discussing climate change, we are faced with some big problems: carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere for example, and we always think about “big” solutions to fix these problems. However, Courtney White, the Author of Two Percent Solutions for the Planet, wants us to “consider low-cost, low-tech, nature-based solutions.” These solutions can range from aquaponics to rooftop gardens. In White’s book, he outlines fifty practices that “either builds soil carbon (and thus mitigates climate change), intensifies food production sustainably, improves water quality, or involves a critical support activity.” One of the focal points of White’s practices is carbon. Carbon is an important part of life and a healthy and efficient carbon cycle is important to a healthy, beneficial planet.

So, what exactly does two percent in the title refer to? Two percent represents:

“The small amount of additional carbon in the soil needed to reap a wide variety of ecological and economic benefits; the portion of the nation’s population who are farmers, ranchers, and other who can get this work done; and the low financial cost of these solutions — only two percent of the nation’s gross domestic product”(White, 3).

The regenerative practices White has chosen range in difficulty and many are specialized for example not everyone has access to a yard where they can practice farming. However, this book can open a reader’s mind to think about the choices they make and where their food might be coming from and how they can make a difference in the planet.

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet by Courtney White was an entertaining and educational read. I was really inspired by some of the articles in this book. White’s use of stories and experiences make the 50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech, Nature-Based Practices for Combating Hunger, Drought, and Climate Change outlined in the book, feel practical, fun, and rewarding. My favorite story is from the article “Redefining Local,” about John Gosney. In Redefining Local, White talks about the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. This Co-op redefines the word local for the state of Oklahoma because consumers buy from the producers in an online market where consumers place orders for what they want. The producers then get the order and make sure they can fill the requirements. Then truck drivers pick up all the food from producers around the state and they bring it to a distribution center where individual orders are put together. After the orders are put together the food is then brought to one of 50 places around the state where the consumer can pick up their food. This food co-op is an ideal system, however, White reminds of a downside of this model, it takes away face to face interaction like what you would see in a local famers market.

The best part of Redefining Local is when White includes the story of John Gosney. Gosney, a typical wheat farmer, who regularly saturated his fields with pesticides. He harvested wheat using a ton of fossil fuels. Gosney, “watching his spirit decline along with the lands health,”(White 88) became depressed. He constantly questioned where his life was going. Then Gosney was introduced to organic agriculture, and saw the profitability of it from a neighboring farm, so he decided to give it a try. At first Gosney had a drop in yield, but he also noticed his expenses also went down when he stopped using conventional fertilizers. Soon after, Gosney’s production increased and his yield grew. He can now grow 800 pound cattle using organic agriculture. Not only can he grow large cattle but his beef is in the highest range of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, a cancer fighter). The main benefit from Gosney’s switch however was that he began having fun again. Going organic helped with his depression because it was challenging yet rewarding.

One great aspect of White’s book? The reader is constantly learning new, interesting concepts, practices, ideas, and facts. One of White’s most inspirational and educational articles is “Why Grassfed.” White opens up with a quote that I starred and underlined: “If there’s one overarching lesson I’ve learned over the years, it’s this: nature knows best” (White 15). I couldn’t have said it better myself. I never understood why we try to “cheat” nature with pesticides, herbicides, and monoculture, when organic, diverse farming is far more productive and cost effective.“Why Grassfed” taught me a lot about beef. I learned that the only benefit of feedlot cattle is that it is cheap. Feedlot cattle are pumped with hormones and antibiotics to keep animals alive. The reason for the chemicals is because feedlot cattle barling get to roam free and their diet is not natural to them. After reading just the first few paragraphs I was already inspired to attempt to only eat grass fed, and I didn’t even get to the good part yet.

The book is divided into five sections. Within the sections are multiple essay type entries. Each entry is a practice or solution to environmental issues. White includes a variety of topics and practices to cover. The first section, Ranching, includes essays on practices that involve eating more grass fed beef, using animals as power, and how to treat animals with kindness. Entries on no-till farming, rooftop gardens, and consuming locally produced foods are found under section two, Farming. The third section with topics like micro sizing your life and carbon safe technology is called Technology. Restoration is the next section and some included stories are growing topsoil, collecting rainwater and agroforestry. The fifth and final section, Wildness, focuses on the wildlife around us, with essays on creating better life for the bees, how we can help bat populations, and how beavers are carbon engineers.

White, throughout the entire book, does an excellent job at presenting factual information while telling stories and inspiring the reader to be more conscious of practices that can really make a difference. In “Why Grassfed” white highlights beneficial facts about grassfed beef. It has higher “good fats” and less “bad fats, more vitamins A and E, no traces of steroids, hormones and other drugs, and has lower saturated fats. Grassfed is by far more nutritional for us to consume and this is because it is more natural. The way nature intended it to be. It is also a lot more sustainable, “by some estimates, meat from grassfed animals requires only one calorie of fossil fuel to produce two calories of food. In contrast, feedlot beef requires five to ten calories of fossil fuel for every calorie of food produced”(White 17).

I really enjoyed being inspired by Courtney White and his book Two Percent Solution for the Planet. I really enjoyed his style of writing with facts and stories to keep the reader engaged and inspired. He adds a “to learn more” section at the end of each article which is also really helpful to the inspired reader so that they can explore a practice or topic in greater detail. I would recommend this book to anyone concerned about the earth we live on.

Cody Fateaux is a student at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

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This entry was posted on November 6, 2015 by in Arts and tagged , , , .

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