book 8: The One Straw Revolution

The One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka, published by New York Review of Books, is a manifesto about living closer to nature and embracing our connectivity while accepting and feeling liberated by the limits of human knowledge. Part user's manual and part spiritual memoir, this book is one that shook me at my core in a very personal and possibly life-changing way. Fukuoka discusses his realization that human knowledge is based on nothing, and he is liberated from what he thought he knew. This led him down a radical path of natural farming, and he outlines the basic principles of natural farming.
But for much of the book, he takes the reader on a spiritual journey beyond how-to, examining the necessity for a holistic view, rather than a discriminatory view, of the world. An allegory for this would be studying bees. A discriminatory view would be a specialized study of bee anatomy and habits without seeing flowers or trees or water or predators or any of the other myriad of things that a bee sees. A holistic view sees that all of nature is connected, with a web of relationships and many roles for each aspect to fulfill in creation of a whole balance. He talks about the discriminating diet vs. the natural diet. The discriminatory diet relies on facts about nutrition (which is always changing and often wrong), whereas a natural diet relies on the availability of local food and on taste (he argues that our food should be delicious).

I can't pretend to understand all of Fukuoka's insights, but I was touched by this book. It was published in 1978, and so a forerunner of permaculture and an important book well worth the read.

1 comment:

  1. that sounds so very interesting...i might have to check it out once i'm finished with my current library books.