Hello, my name is Librarian Who, and I have a cookbook addiction. Well, actually, I have a cookbook and food book addiction. I like to eat and I like to cook and I like to read about food. There are worse habits one can have. At any rate, this is the inspiration for another reoccurring feature on this blog, Fat Friday. Once a month I am going to profile a book that deals in some way with food.
First up is Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobson. This in not a book I would have chosen to read on my own, but it was selected for my book club and so I gave it a shot. I was initially apprehensive about reading it because I thought it would be all doom and gloom and depress the hell out of me. After all, the subtitle is "the collapse of the honeybee and the coming agricultural crisis." And to be fair, there is a certain amount of that in here and it is well deserved. Awareness of what humans are doing in the pursuit of more, more, more and the almighty dollar is extremely important.
However, the majority of the book is not a sermon. It is filled with information about bees, honey, and the pollination of plants, all presented in a manner in which the average person can understand. Most importantly, it was not dry or boring. Additionally, the author gives information about good things that are happening as well as the information and resources for how the average person can help, such as bee friendly plants and flowers to plant.
For our club's meeting that month we had a local non-commercial beekeeper come and speak to us about the book and keeping bees in general. In some ways, the pests that can lead to colony collapse can be a good thing, as it weeds out sick and unproductive bees and leaves you with the hardiest of your stock. Unfortunately, so much of the commercial pollination of plants is dependent on the activities of commercial beekeeper's bees that for them it is a horrible disaster. I have learned to buy only local honey as it tastes better, costs less, doesn't support the trucking of bees, and will help with allergies if you eat some everyday. Oh yes, you are also assured that it is, in fact, honey and not some sort of imitation product from China.
I've learned to not purchase beeswax products* as the bees have to work extremely hard to produce even a little bit of wax. I have also learned why almonds are so darn expensive. Almond trees are prima donnas when it comes to pollination, and thus commercial almond growers have to go through this ridiculous planting and pollination scheme every year. I've also learned that honey can be used effectively for a number of home remedies including as a cough syrup. After reading this book I have a new found respect for honey bees, and a renewed commitment to being as much of a localvore as I possibly can.
I highly recommend Fruitless Fall to any and all. And the next Fat Friday will have a much happier topic.
*I admit that I still buy beeswax lip balms, but that is because I am trying to eliminate petroleum based products from my life. I figure they are the lesser of the two evils.