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The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society (ECW Press, May 2013)

An entertaining and enlightening exploration of why waste matters, this cultural history explores an often ignored subject matter and makes a compelling argument for a deeper understanding of human and animal waste. Approaching the subject from a variety of perspectives — evolutionary, ecological, and cultural — this examination shows how integral excrement is to biodiversity, agriculture, public health, food production and distribution, and global ecosystems. From primordial ooze, dung beetles, bug frass, cat scats, and flush toilets to global trade, pandemics, and energy, this is the awesome, troubled, uncensored story of feces.

Food Sex Cover

Food, Sex and Salmonella: Why our Food is Making us Sick (Greystone Books, 2008)

With solid science and deft humor, a celebrated epidemiologist surveys foodborne diseases, explains their complexities, explores why new diseases are emerging, and offers preventive solutions.

In this lively look at foodborne diseases, David Waltner-Toews brings us tales of the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that have made their way into our food supply. He explores the global patterns of foodborne disease, from ciguatera toxins in fish to pandemics of Salmonella, and the changes in climate, culture, agriculture, and trade that have led to the emergence of new diseases and epidemics. Finally, he offers effective responses, ranging from changing personal habits to managing international trade and agricultural practices.

Using the metaphor of sex, the book reminds us that what sex is to interpersonal relationships, eating is to the human-environment relationship. Treating our relationship with food as a series of one-off sensual encounters is like having random sex with a blindfold on: it may be fun, but it is also full of nasty surprises. This book is a call to take off the blindfolds and enlighten ourselves.

The Ecology and Culture of Diseases Other Animals Share with People

The Chickens Fight Back: Pandemic Panics and Deadly Diseases that Jump from Animals to Humans (Greystone Books, 2007)

Emerging diseases like mad cow, SARS, and avian flu are — for the moment, at least — far more prevalent in animals than in humans. Still, the knowledge that measles, TB, and smallpox were at one time “emerging” diseases that eventually made a permanent, and quite deadly, jump to humans gives epidemiologists pause.

The Chickens Fight Back examines the various groups of animal diseases, explains what attracts them to the human population — from food to sex to living conditions — and offers suggestions for keeping them at bay. It also points out that diseases must be looked at from an ecological, cultural, and economic point of view as well as from a biological standpoint. Cooking meat till its well done and slathering on insect repellent for a hike in the woods are effective preventative measures, but as David Waltner-Toews notes, it’s more important to fundamentally rethink humankind’s place in the world.

One Animal Among Many

One Animal Among Many:  Gaia, Goats and Garlic  (NC Press, available from the author)

The real-life experiences of creatures great and small. The collection looks at everything from sheep farming to herbal remedies and rabies.

 

 

 

 

 

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