*A Skeptic's Quest to Discover If the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Ke
By Nathanael Johnson
(Rodale Books, Hardcover, 9781605290744, 352pp.)
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
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In this age of climate change, killer germs, and obesity, it’s easy to feel as if we’ve fallen out of synch with the global ecosystem. This ecological anxiety has polarized a new generation of Americans: many are drawn to natural solutions and organic lifestyles, while others rally around high-tech development and industrial efficiencies. Johnson argues that both views, when taken to extremes, can be harmful, even deadly.
Johnson, raised in the crunchy-granola epicenter of Nevada City, California, lovingly and rigorously scrutinizes his family’s all-natural mindset, a quest that brings him into the worlds of an outlaw midwife, radical doctors, renegade farmers and one hermit forester. Along the way, he uncovers paradoxes at the heart of our ecological condition: Why, even as medicine improves, are we becoming less healthy? Why are more American women dying in childbirth? Why do we grow fatter the more we diet? Why have so many attempts to save the environment backfired?
In All Natural* - a sparklingly intelligent, wry, and scrupulously reported narrative - Johnson teases fact from faith and offers a rousing and original vision for a middle ground between natural and technological solutions that will assuage frustrated environmentalists, perplexed parents, and confused consumers alike.
Nathanael Johnson is an award-winning journalist who has written features for Harper’s, New York, Outside, and San Francisco magazines and produced stories for National Public Radio and This American Life. He studied with Michael Pollan at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in San Francisco.
"Engaging look at the merits of nature versus technology...Johnson’s investigation is both horrifying and amusing, and readers will relish the colorful, witty writing and find much food for thought."--Booklist"[Johnson] presents a refreshing optimism that neither extolls the organic to the point of supporting pseudoscience nor negates the value of scientific advancements…The book strikes at the heart of hot-button issues with an Everyman appeal." – Kirkus "It’s hard not to smile when [Johnson] writes tenderly about growing up as a naked back-to-nature kid raised on zucchini in a world of space-pod juice packets like Capri Sun and spreadable cheese food." – Spirituality & Health Magazine "I had so much fun reading All Natural that I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband and summarizing Johnson's findings to my kids' teenage friends."--RANDI HUTTER EPSTEIN.COM + Psychologytoday.com/Favorable review "This is a quirky and fascinating book, one of a kind. Johnson's parents were stalwart hippies and raised him according to the orthodoxy that whatever is most natural is best, so: natural childbirth at home, no sugar in the diet, no clothing on the baby (not even diapers!), natural medicines etc. Johnson decides to examine the scientific basis of these practices, and lo and behold, discovers more justification than you would expect for a radically less-industrialized approach to managing the various stages of development, life and death."-- Michael Pollan, Barnesandnoble.com "What's really welcome about his deeply reported book, All Natural, is that [Johnson's] upbringing makes the investigation of nature vs technology fun as well as thought-provoking...All Natural brings the arguments to life through a cast of wonderful farmers, neighbors, doctors, midwives and Johnson's own parents."--LOS ANGELES TIMES "His book is not only a fascinating read for those who want to get to the bottom of issues such as raw milk and home birth, but it is also a call for more sensible decision-making...Johnson’s personal journey through the book, which he recounts with sparkling humor, begins with him shopping for the best ideology and ends with him trying to operate without any ideology—seeing 'the world both ways at once, with both eyes open.'"--CONSERVATION MAGAZINE