Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage and Lactic Fermentation, by Deborah Madison and Eliot Coleman (Chelsea Green, White River Junction, VT, 2006) $25.

While kiwi from New Zealand and apples from Washington offer tasty convenience year around, the cost to both our wallets and the environment (in the form of fossil fuels for shipping and energy for refrigeration) remains staggering. Instead, many choose to extend the local harvest season by freezing or canning their bounty, but these methods of food preservation are costly and do not offer the maximum in energy efficiency or maintenance of flavor and nutritional content. Alternatively, utilizing traditional methods and common supplies, food preserving can be as easy as digging a hole in the ground or stringing sliced zucchini and hanging it above the radiator to dry. Brimming with 250 recipes, most previously unpublished, from the readers of a French organic gardening magazine Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning ushers you into the simple world of techniques like drying, cold storage and lactic fermentation that use the movement of the air, the left-over heat from an oven used to cook bread, and the cold of the ground to supply fresh and tasty food through the winter. Storing apples with Elderflowers (after just six to eight weeks they taste like pineapple), cherries in vinegar, and lemons preserved with salt – these techniques offer unique flavors and distinctive ways to combine familiar ingredients while maintaining and in some cases enhancing their nutrition and flavor. Including recipes for jams with no sugar added and sweet and sour preserves that use as little sugar and vinegar as possible, Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning keeps an eye on your waistline, as well as the environment.

Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper, RN (Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, 2005) $19.95

Is it possible to have a natural childbirth without fear and pain? Can you have a vaginal child birth following a cesarean? How does a baby breathe if born in water? Empowering women to choose for themselves rather than remain a passive participant in a process driven by technology and doctors, Gentle Birth Choices explains an array of options for what many define as life’s most profound experience. Demystifying the birthing process and the technology used in today’s hospitals, Barbara Harper, RN, guides expectant mothers through a maze of opinions and unquestioned "best practices" while offering a host of information on both the physical and emotional aspects of holistic prenatal preparation. Relaying the history of the medicalization of childbirth and the fascinating role of organized religion and biblical interpretation in the creation of today’s common practices, Harper explains that while the U.S. offers the most technologically advanced obstetrical care in the world, it ranks 31st in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity (illness) rates, primarily due to the absence of midwives in the birthing process. She further exposes the Electronic Fetal Monitor as a leading cause of unnecessary cesareans rather than a preventer of cerebral palsy due to the easy misinterpretation of the machine’s data. Including a birth planning guide with recommended questions for your doctor, hospital and midwife, as well as a DVD of interviews and footage of six diverse birthing experiences, Gentle Birth Choices provides everything you need to join the gentle revolution.

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