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As a book there are severe limitations. I'm interested in the natural farming approach, but there were many chapters which devolve into anti-science, religious mysticism, and food advice. Obviously the author never did much traveling and considers Japanese macrobiotics a complete solution for the planet. On the other hand he makes statements like:
"It is impossible to prescribe rules and proportions for a natural diet. This diet defines itself according to the local environment, and the various needs and the bodily constitution of each person".
If only the book kept to the actual practice of natural farming, and not the whimsical thinking and posturing of someone who wishes it to be profound.
On the one hand, Fukuoka claims that his method of farming produces as well as scientific farming, but without pesticides, ploughing (for the most part), chemical fertilizers (organic is necessary), etc. That is a great argument, which is then undermined about how all science is partial and incomplete, and statements such as:
- "Lacking true culture, humanity will perish."
- "The body also needs vegetable or sesame oil to hold off summer sloth." -"The only thing to write is that writing is useless."
This book cries out for an editor or edition that could focus on one topic at a time. Fukuoka is brilliant in many respects, incisively criticising government agencies, marketing, and consumer behavior, as well as agricultural science and fads. He is able to provide antidotes for many of these modern mistakes, and interesting ideas (such as that natural food should cost less and local distribution is important).
I think a significant problem at the end of this work is that it, like many other enthusiastic counter-cultural works, requires people to swallow whole all the different elements of what is presented: fact, opinion, factually inaccurate pronoucements, and all the odd bits and pieces.
The work is a necessary read, but there is still a missing book, sorely needed for natural farming, but presented as Christopher Alexander does Architecture in a two-volume *The Timeless Way of Building" & "A Pattern Language").