E.F. Schumacher
Small is beautiful : economics as if people mattered
[ out of print ]

235 pages

Download the english text from this book

In 1973, Schumacher wrote : «Suddenly, if not altogether surprisingly, the modern world, shaped by modern technology, finds itself involved in three crises simultaneously. First, human nature revolts against inhuman technological, organisational, and political patterns, which it experiences as suffocating and debilitating; second, the living environment which supports human life aches and groans and gives signs of partial breakdown; and, third, it is clear to anyone fully knowledgeable in the subject matter that the inroads being made into the world's non-renewable resources, particularly those of fossil fuels, are such that serious bottlenecks and virtual exhaustion loom ahead in the quite foreseeable future. Any one of these three crises or illnesses can turn out to be deadly. I do not know which of the three is the most likely to be the direct cause of collapse. What is quite clear is that a way of life that bases itself on materialism, i.e. on permanent, limitless expansionism in a finite environment, cannot last long, and that its life expectation is the shorter the more successfully it pursues its expansionist objectives.» pp 102-103, Chapter 10 - Technology with a human face

«There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour. Now, the modern economist has been brought up to consider 'labour' or work as little more than a necessary evil. From the point of view of the employer, it is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum if it cannot be eliminated altogether, say, by automation. From the point of view of the workman, it is a 'disutility'; to work is to make a sacrifice of one's leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice. Hence the ideal from the point of view of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the
employee is to have income without employment.

The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give a man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his egocentredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence. pp 35-36, Chapitre 4 - Buddhist Economy


Agriculture and Agrifood:
Securing and Building the Future

274 pages, Gouvernement du Québec
ISBN 978-2-550-51787-0
Download the PDF document (1.5MB)


Download the PDF document (1.5MB)

The Commission sur l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’agroalimentaire québécois offers a thorough, worried and honest insight into the present state of Québec's agriculture. A mandatory read for all critics of our current agricultural model, the «Pronovost report» details all our previous mistakes while making encouraging and tangible reccomandations to escape the current dead-end.

p.41«A people's agriculture expresses its personality. Beyond the constraints of climate and biophysical environment, the way a society practices agriculture reflects its choices and shows a bit of who we are and what makes us different.»

p.15«The Commission's diagnosis is clear: the agriculture and agrifood sector is increasingly inwardlooking.»

p.50 «They are very capable of acting... And they must—the situation is urgent.»

La Commission sur l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’agroalimentaire québécois

Joel Salatin
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal:
War Stories From the Local Food Front

352 pages, Polyface
ISBN-10: 0963810952 ISBN-13: 978-0963810953

More books really worth reading from Joel Salatin:
Folks this ain't normal
Pastured Poultry Profits

"How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, 'No, I will not. This is wrong, and I don't care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.' Wouldn't world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings"

Joel Salatin - Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal

Rapport d'enquête pour la protection
des agriculteurs et des consommateurs

464 pages, En Pleine Gueule
OCR from original 1955 paper edition
Download the 232 page document (7.5MB)

Download the 232 page document (7.5MB)

In response to the demands made by the U.C.C. (Catholic Cultivators Union) in the 1940s, Québec'c government launched the Héon commission "for the protection of farmers and consumers" in 1953. The committee was made up of three members and it was a district judge, M.Héon, who presided over the committee. The report, known as the "Héon report", was published in 1955 and was the basis of what became the M-35.1 Act Respecting the Marketing of Agricultural, Food and Fish Products which pretty much gave in to all U.C.C. demands, specifically the ones related to the marketing acts and schemes they so desperately wanted. This was the beginning of the end for the short-lived "free enterprise" era of Québec's agriculture.

p.134(PDF pagination) pp.266-267 (original document pagination)


"City dwellers often forget that unconsciously they contribute their share to the rising costs of farm products. It is tempting to rail against food prices or seek to bring them down. It may occasionally be wiser to wonder how we will keep the "man who feeds us" feeding us, if we make his job unrewarding by comparison with other employment."

"In farmer-consumer relations consumers hold a blind and perilous power. The power to decide by their chance tastes in buying where our manpower will find it most profitable to work ... and what it will pay Canada most to produce. Radios ... or bread? Meat ... or motorcars? Pulpwood for comics ... or lumber for homes? Soft drinks ... or milk? This is the choice we make each time we shop. For one industry... say a television factory or a distillery... can outbid another... say a dairy farm... for its manpower only through OUR greater readiness to buy more of and pay more for what the winning factory produces. Fifty years ago, in Quebec, for example, 65% of the people lived on the land and easily fed the 35% living in cities. Then steak cost lOc a lb. - today 75% live and produce "things" or services in cities - these must be fed by the shrunken 25% left on the farms- so steak no longer costs lOc a 1b."

"We all like gadgets, but their price may be higher than we think. The refrigerators on your street alone may have siphoned ten men away from the farm, where cows who won't keep union hours are losing out to factories that will. This is one factor behind rising milk prices. Only by making it more rewarding for men to produce food than gadgets can we turn back the tide now rapidly emptying our farms of their labour. To want cheap necessities is human. But is it wise? Today many consumers spend more readily 7c for 6 ounces of soft drink than 22 or 24 cents for 40 ounces of milk. We employ, hence produce, where we spend. It may be time we examined more thoughtfully what our consumer dollar does to us who spend it"

- Madame René Vautelet, President of the Canadian Consummers Association (approx. 1955)

Toby Hemenway
Gaia's Garden: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture

400 pages, Chelsea Green
ISBN-10: 1603580298 ISBN-13: 978-1603580298

A great foray into the fascinating world of permaculture.
Notice in this excerpt how the concept of "edge", which Toby Hemenway describes here, also could apply to the notion of ideas transitioning from marginal to mainstream. It is my belief that this "contact zone" between "the very few" and "the masses" is where everything important and significant starts.

p.45-46«"Edge" is a key concept in ecology, so much so that ecologists speak of « the edge effect. » Edges are fascinating and dynamic places. Edges are where things happen. Where a forest meets the prairie, where a river flows into the sea, or at nearly any other boundary between two ecosystems is a cauldron of biodiversity. All the species that thrive in each of the two environments are present, plus new species that live in the transition zone between the two. The edge is richer than what lies on either side. Any fisherman knows this. He doesn't cast his lure into the center of the lake, but toward the shoreline, where fish gather to feed on the flourishing life in the shallows. Edges allow us to define spaces, see their boundaries as well as what flows across them, and work with these flows. They are places of transition and translation, where matter and energy change speed or stop or, often, change into something else.»

James E. McWilliams
Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong
and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly

288 pages, Back Bay Books
ISBN-10: 0316033758 ISBN-13: 978-0316033756

«We suffer today from food anxiety, bombarded as we are with confusing messages about how to eat an ethical diet. Should we eat locally? Is organic really better for the environment? Can genetically modified foods be good for you? JUST FOOD... ...challenges conventional views, and cuts through layers of myth and misinformation. For instance, an imported tomato is more energy-efficient than a local greenhouse-grown tomato.»

My favorite excerpt:

p.218 «We must learn to talk sensibly about food, committing ourselves to accepting more complexity, less radicalism, and the wisdom of compromise.»


Rob Hopkins
The transition handbook:
From oil dependency to local resilience

240 pages, Chelsea Green
ISBN-10: 2923165667 ISBN-13: 978-2923165660


Understanding the concepts of resilience and peak oil. Great, great read.

p.11 (of the free online edition)«We live in momentous times: times when change is accelerating, and when the horror of what could happen if we do nothing and the brilliance of what we could achieve if we act can both, at times, be overwhelming. This book is underpinned by one simple premise: that the end of what we might call The Age of Cheap Oil (which lasted from 1859 until the present) is near at hand, and that for a society utterly dependent on it, this means enormous change; but that the future with less oil could be preferable to the present, if we plan sufficiently in advance with imagination and creativity.»

p.6 (of the free online edition) «Central to this book is the concept of resilience - familiar to ecologists, but less so to the rest of us. Resilience refers to the ability of a system, from individual people to whole economies, to hold together and maintain their ability to function in the face of change and shocks from the outside. This book, The Transition Handbook, argues that in our current (and long overdue) efforts to drastically cut carbon emissions, we must also give equal importance to the building, or more accurately to the rebuilding, of resilience.»

Michael Pollan
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meal

464 pages, Penguin
ISBN-10: 0143038583 ISBN-13: 978-0143038580

More books really worth reading from Michael Pollan:
In defense of food

This is the book that triggered my awakening.

p.116 "I asked Todd Dawson, a biologist at Berkeley, to run a McDonald's meal through a mass spectrometer and calculate how much of the carbon in it came originally from a corn plant: soda 100%, milk shake 78%, salad dressing 65%, chicken nuggets 56%, cheesebuger 52% and french fries 23%".

p.268 "As our diet and the diet of the animals we eat shifted from one based on green plants to one based on grain (from grass to corn), the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has gone from roughly one to one (in the diet of hunter-gatherers) to more than ten to one. We may one day come to regard this shift as one of the most deleterious dietary changes wrought by the industrialisation of our food cain".

p.230 Michael Pollan quoting Joel Salatin: "Make no mistake, we're in a war with the bureaucrats, who would like nothing better than to put us out of business"

Jacques Massacrier

192 pages, Albin Michel
ISBN-10: 0143038583 ISBN-13: 978-0143038580
Reprint: Éditions du Devin


"Each year, hundreds of thousands of people realize the sterility of their social life, can't shake the feeling that great upheavals or cataclysms, which would spare only primitive tribes, are to come and leave to relearn how to live organically with nature.

This nature that most have only came close to on holiday and on weekends, those who never did more then grow a bean in a damp piece of cotton at school, those who would like to build a wall but don't know the correct proportions to make cement, those who have always thought one needed a rooster in a chicken coop for hens to lay eggs, those who feel helpless when they have no doctor to treat their slightest discomfort, those who imagine that one must be a tailor to make pants or a baker to make bread... …This book is intended for them.»

Jacques Massacrier

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