Why Garden Organically?

The reasons for being an organic gardener are many: concern for the environment, desire for self-sufficiency, and the joy of eating fresh food, to name a few. For me, gardening organically over the last twenty years has been both a cost issue and a nutritional choice. Organic, versus conventional, fruits and vegetables are less expensive to produce in the home garden, and they provide better nutrition.

1. First, let’s take a quick look at the price of using chemicals in a garden. With price, there are the obvious, monetary costs: $10 per gallon for all-purpose fertilizer, $156 per gallon for broad spectrum herbicide, $40 per half gallon of fungicide, $20 to $100 for a hand-held sprayer (prices are approximate and were obtained from a national retailer of garden and home products). Chemical costs can definitely add up over the years. Is the cost worth paying? I think not.

Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West (Fulcrum, $24.95, ISBN: 978-1-55591-725-8) by Jane Shellenberger (publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener) makes this interesting point: “Two world wars, plus the Korean and Vietnam wars, provided not only many of the chemicals adapted and marketed for postwar agricultural use, but also the mindset necessary to convince farmers and the public that we needed to do battle to overcome nature and her ‘pests,’ at every turn employing a chemical arsenal.” I definitely do not want chemicals in my garden that were originally designed to kill people, no matter what the agricultural adaptation has been.

In addition to the monetary costs, chemicals exact a very high price from the soil and its myriad organisms. Each teaspoon of soil holds hundreds if not thousands of living creatures, including microscopic worms, protozoa, nematodes, and fungi, such as the water bear (below): “Water bears are named for their slow-faited walk. Also known as tardigrades, these microbial extremophiles can survive a range of temperatures from near absolute zero to 304 degrees, plus 1,000 times more radiation than other animals.” (Organic Gardener’s Companion, p. 30).

When a gardener uses chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers, they may solve a garden problem, but the short-term solution destroys the biodiversity of plants and animals that make a self-sustaining garden possible. Soil and its creatures, weeds, and desirable plants create a biodynamic system in every garden. While occasionally the system can become unbalanced, resulting in a garden problem, an overabundance of dandelions is far better than a chemically burned yard full of “dead” soil.

2. Another reason to grow vegetables and fruits organically is that they’ll provide you with more nutrition than conventionally grown food. For years I didn’t have the scientific verification to prove the better nutritional value in organically grown versus conventionally grown vegetables. Then, on February 13, 2009, Science News published an article by Janet Raloff titled “AAAS: Stress Can Make Plants More Nutritious.” In the article, Alyson Mitchell of UC–Davis “compared identical cultivators grown on certified organic plots versus those where standard fertilizers and pesticides were being applied. And as a rule, organics far surpassed their conventionally grown kin for vitamins and beneficial micronutrients, such as antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol.” Mitchell found that the extra stress that organically grown plants experience causes their “defensive secondary metabolites” to kick into action in order to fight off pests. These secondary metabolites are also the mechanism that plants use to produce “phenolic acids, flavonoids, alkaloids, and terpenoids”—these natural plant pesticides and sunscreens function as important micronutrients and vitamins for humans. “And one potential bonus: Better taste. Some of the secondary plant metabolites break down into flavor compounds.”

So, next time you’re gardening and see a moth nibbling on your cabbage, forgo spraying pesticide and remember, those little holes indicate a higher vitamin content! For additional information on organic gardening, I suggest you visit your local library and look for a copy of Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West by Jane Shellenberger. Copies are also available from the bookseller of your choice or at www.fulcrumbooks.com.

Posted by Ingrid Estell, veteran gardener and Special Sales Manager at Fulcrum

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“It is not the big dramatic things so much that get us down, but just being Indian, trying to hang on to our way of life, language, and values while being surrounded by an alien, more powerful culture.” —Mary Crow Dog, American Indian activist

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day occurred in 1977, at a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on discrimination against indigenous populations in the Americas. But it wasn’t until 1991 that activists in Berkeley, California, convinced the Berkeley City Council to declare October 12 a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” Since then, there has been a growing movement to appropriate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. States including South Dakota, Hawaii, and Alabama (but not Colorado) have changed the holiday’s name, and many more cities have taken similar action.

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, this blogger intends to spend some quiet meditation honoring indigenous resistance and to contemplate how to best confront current injustices. For our readers, I’ve linked to some great posts and articles on the history of Christopher Columbus and on Indigenous Peoples’ Day below:

Blueness has a great post on Admiral Columbus at The Daily Kos. From the post:

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought Original Sin to the New World. The policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.…

Today,’ the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest is gone.

From Hispaniola, the Admiral and his works brought destruction too to all the native peoples of all the rest of the Americas—north, central, and south.

And to replace the falling bodies of the Taino, who died extracting gold and silver for him, the Admiral birthed the transatlantic slave trade, bringing to the New World in bondage people from the place where people were born.”

Racialicious has posted “An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters on Columbus Day,” in which Sasha Houston Brown writes:

“I doubt that you consulted the Navajo Nation about using their tribal name on sophisticated items such as the “Navajo Hipster Panty.” In fact, I recently became aware that the Navajo Nation Attorney General sent your company a cease and desist letter regarding this very issue. I stand in solidarity with the Navajo Nation and ask that you not only cease and desist selling products falsely using the Navajo name, but that you also stop selling faux Indian apparel that objectifies all tribes.

Urban Outfitters Inc. has taken Indigenous life ways and artistic expressions and trivialized and sexualized them for the sake of corporate profit. It is this kind of behavior that perpetuates the stereotype of the white man’s Indian and allows for the ongoing commodification of an entire ethnic group. Just as our traditional homelands were stolen and expropriated without regard, so too has our very cultural identity. On this day that America still celebrates as Columbus Day, I ask that do what is morally right and apologize to Indigenous peoples of North America and withdraw this offensive line from retail stores.”

There’s also a great excerpt from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States on Christopher Columbus at the Manifest Destiny blog. From the excerpt:

“When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure—there is no bloodshed—and Columbus Day is a celebration.

The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they—the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court—represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as “the United States,” subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a “national interest” represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media.”

Last year, on the Republic of Lakotah site, Glenn Morris and Russell Means did a great piece on why AIM opposes Christopher Columbus Day and Christopher Columbus celebrations. And today, the site has a great post calling out Occupy Denver and asking them to integrate Native peoples and methods into the Occupy movement. From the post:

“We have been waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever since that fateful day in October 1492, when a different worldview arrived—one of greed, hierarchy, destruction and genocide.

In observing the “Occupy Together” expansion, we are reminded that the territories of our indigenous nations have been “under occupation” for decades, if not centuries. We remind the occupants of this encampment in Denver that they are on the territories of the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Ute peoples.  In the U.S., indigenous nations were the first targets of corporate/government oppression. The landmark case of Johnson v. McIntosh(1823), which institutionalized the “doctrine of discovery” in U.S. law, and which justified the theft of 2 billion acres of indigenous territory, established a framework of corrupt political/legal/corporate collusion that continues throughout indigenous America, to the present.

If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations. Without addressing justice for indigenous peoples, there can never be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States. Toward that end, we challenge Occupy Denver to take the lead, and to be the first “Occupy” city to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland.” 

Local Events in September: Beer, Strudel, BOOKS, and More Beer…

September is here and I am so excited. I’ve trotted out my first fall hat, my first cup of cider, and had my first rapid-fire sneezing attack from autumn leaves. There are some great fall events coming up in the Denver area, including my favorite year-round activity: beer tastings.

Watercourse Foods will be featuring an IPA tasting paired with some delicious hors d’oeuvres tomorrow, September 14, from 4–7 p.m. on their patio. All of the featured beers will be from local brewers, including Renegade, Asher, Great Divide, Ska, and Avery Brewing. The price for a heavenly evening of alfresco India pale ale and fine vegetarian foodstuffs is a mere $20 per person for unlimited beer and food.

No tickets or reservations required.


Denver Public Library‘s Fresh City Life series is offering a giveaway of a Breakfast at Tiffany’s DVD and dinner for two from Whole Foods Market this Saturday, September 17, from 1:30–3 p.m. After a viewing of scenes from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Chef Shellie Kark will demonstrate techniques for creating the perfect pastry. Samples of apple strudel will be available to taste. All that’s missing is an evening dress and an elegant cigarette holder.

Also, registration is now open for the Denver bookbinding tour and building your own book workshop. I have coveted this workshop since I discovered the Fresh City Life series, petting the registration page on my laptop screen and muttering “my preciousssss” late into the night, but as they are held in the middle of the day, I haven’t been able to attend. If any of our crafty blog readers attend, please submit a comment, review of the workshop, or a picture of their book, and we’ll give you a nice shout-out in the blog and the twitterverse.

For our author readers who are hoping to get published (and who have already read our post on “How to Be an Author Publishers Want to Work With,”) on Saturday, September 17, at 2 p.m., Boulder Book Store is offering a writing workshop on “Writing a Winning Book Proposal,” taught by founder and executive director of The Boulder Writers’ Workshop, Lori DeBoer. This workshop is for nonfiction writers, including memoirists and authors of how-to books. Attendees will explore the elements of a book proposal, including the hook, cover letter, and synopsis. Attendees will leave with lots of handouts. Tickets are $30 and space is limited.

And on September 28 at 7:30 p.m., Boulder Book Store is hosting a speaking, signing, and beer tasting for Garrett Oliver’s The Oxford Companion to Beer. Attendees must buy a voucher to attend. Vouchers are $5 and get you $5 off the author’s featured book or $5 off a purchase on the day of the event. Plus there’s all that free beer.

One of my all-time favorite authors is visiting Tattered Cover this month. On September 30 at 7:30 p.m., Neal Stephenson will be signing copies of his new book, Reamde, at the historic LoDo Tattered Cover. Free numbered tickets for a place in the signing line will be handed out beginning at 6:30 p.m. on September 30. Seating for the presentation prior to the booksigning is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis to ticketed customers only.

Stephenson holds a special place in the jumble of gears and glitter that I have instead of a human heart. I read his book Snow Crash as an adolescent, and it quickly infiltrated and informed my malleable teenage identity and world view. I read it over and over the summer I was 14, so that when I entered high school, only 10 percent of my brain was original thought. The other 90 percent was all lines from Snow Crash and Fugazi lyrics.

Big ol’ Native News Roundup

It’s been a while since we last did one of these Native news roundups, and there’s lots to tell—some of it great, some of it terrible.

The Suquamish tribe legalized gay marriage. The vote was unanimous, woohoo! And how awesome is this quote from the tribal chairman: “It was an important statement, but it wasn’t one that was a real struggle to make. We really saw this as a housekeeping issue.”

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a great exhibit on race and racism in the United States. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, and I can’t wait to go this fall. This video gives a little bit of insight into what the exhibit is all about (as with all YouTube videos that don’t feature cats playing the keyboard, I would recommend that you don’t read the comments if you would like to have a nice day):

Shari Valentine at Racism Review wrote a great piece on the lack of Native American judges and elected officials.

Racialicious posted on Native American images in video games.

Native Representations in Video Games from Elizabeth Lameman on Vimeo.

The rest of the excerpted article is over at COE. In middle school, I used to play Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in the computer lab with a bunch of other dorks cool kids. It was a sad day for them when a well-meaning teacher outed me as Native (probably in an effort to spare me from the war cries and rain dances that were busted out when someone successfully made a kill), and their white fascination with a pan-Indian stereotype of a stoic warrior with a back-to-nature spirituality shriveled up and died at the feet of their scrawny, Jewish Native classmate, who got a free pass from most gym days because of a terrible allergy to freshly cut grass. And it was a sad day for me when I read the Racialicious piece and saw that nothing had changed in more than a decade.

Speaking of Racialicious, my friends and family have had a lot of fun playing around with Native representation this summer. Amusement parks are particularly great places to find awful examples of representation:

Can you tell which is the real Native? Most people can't.

The news I’m most excited about is that the upcoming feature film More Than Frybread successfully raised enough money to complete their filming. I can’t wait to see this movie! By the way, if any of our readers are wondering if an actual frybread champion exists, the answer is yes. It’s my dad.

Rock Out Your summer with Local Events

The end of summer is rapidly approaching, but we still have time to wring out all the merry fun we can from the warmest days of the year. As the Starks say, “Winter is coming,” so you’d do best to take advantage of our precious warm season while you can.

Tonight, Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks is showing Twilight. If any of our dear readers haven’t heard of it, it’s a small indie film, a love story between two teenagers: one pale and one sparkly, starring two talented unknowns: Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattison. It’s a lovely, quaint film set in a small logging town in Washington. It’s like Romeo and Juliet meets Twin Peaks meets Dawson’s Creek. My sister-in-law will be attending in full sparkle mode. I’ll be at home, on my porch, quietly melting.

Be sure to stop by your local farmers’ market this weekend. Last week, I bought some saucer peaches, which I’ve been eating nonstop. They’re pretty much the best thing ever, all fuzzy and sweet and saucer shaped.

Next week, the Denver Botanic Gardens are doing a great event with Ryan Rice, the artist and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Native American Arts in Santa Fe, NM, as well as the cofounder and chair of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. The basic event details are below, but visit the Botanic Gardens site for more info:
July 27 —“Site Seen: Native Art in Public Spaces”

Walk:  5:30–6:30 p.m.

Guided walk by Ryan Rice acts as prelude to the lecture. Space is limited.

Lecture:  7–8 p.m.

Then, on August 4, Denver Public Library is hosting a night of urban fantasy on the eve of RomCon. As I love book readings, cocktails, and magic of the urban fantasy variety, I’ll be attending in full sparkle mode.

From the Fresh City Life website:

Fresh City Life is pitching in to celebrate one of the most amusing and entertaining booklover’s conventions—RomCon 2011 (August 5–7). Dedicated to all the subgenres within Romance novels, this convention will draw an international audience. On the eve of RomCon, three exciting urban fantasy authors will join us for an evening of magic, mojo and readings from their most popular titles. You’ll also have an opportunity to create a Mojo Bag—a good-luck filled bag that will hold talismans contributed by each writer.

Mucho Mojo will feature the following fantasy authors: Nicole Peeler (Jane True series, including Tempest Rising), Kimberly Frost (national bestselling Southern Witch series, which includes Would-Be Witch, Barely Bewitched, and Halfway Hexed), and Jeanne Stein (national bestselling series The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles).

Join your friends at Mad Wine Bar (13th and Acoma Plaza) and enjoy some fantastic potions and brews concocted specially for this event. It’s a magical chance to meet three incredible writers and make a retro-hip mojo bag to lift your spirits—all for free! (One drink minimum please.)

Get out there readers, and seize the summer. Anyone have great plans worth sharing?

Friday Author Link Love

Happy Friday all! Hope you have some good books to read and some outdoor activities planned. Here is a recap of some of the cool things Fulcrum’s authors and books were up to this week:

Walter Echo-Hawk, author of In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (978-1-93621-801-1, Fulcrum Publishing), was recently interviewed by J Kehaulani Kauanui for the radio show “Indigenous Politics.” Check out this podcast to hear the full interview. Walter Echo-Hawk is always a fascinating person to hear speak. http://indigenouspolitics.mypodcast.com

Richard Hetzler of The Mitsitam Café Cookbook (978-1-55591-747-0, Fulcrum Publishing) sat down with Serge the Concierge (blog) at Book Expo America in New York last month. The full interview was just posted on Serge the Concierge’s blog last week, and it’s a fun read! Check out the interview here to learn more about the inspiration for the dishes in the cookbook as well as how Richard adapted some dishes to make them more contemporary, while staying true to Native techniques.

Trickster Cover

We found out this week that Trickster: Native American Tales (978-1-55591-724-1, Fulcrum Publishing) won a Hollywood Book Festival award in the Comics category. Read about the other award winners here: http://hollywoodbookfestival.com/winners2011.htm. Congratulations to Matt Dembicki and the Trickster team! Speaking of Matt Dembicki, he is off to San Diego next week for Comic-Con International, where Trickster is up for an Eisner Award. Matt will also be doing a signing at Tr!ckster on Saturday, July 23rd, from 12pm-2pm. The San Diego Wine And Culinary Center wine bar directly across the road from San Diego Comic-Con will be transformed for one week into Tr!ckster, a 4,500 square foot area for comic creators to launch books or sell limited runs of new books or items with gallery space for display and a symposium spot as well.

Our friends at Indian Country Today magazine recently reviewed Every Day is a Good Day, Memorial Edition (978-1-55591-691-6, Fulcrum Publishing) by Wilma Mankiller. Following is a nice quote from the review: The endurance of this book owes as much to these women’s resilience as to the staying power of its author. Although she died in April 2010 at the age of 64, Mankiller had survived and indeed surpassed what might be considered more than her share of misfortune. In The Way Home, the chief, a key player in the rebuilding of her nation, wrote, “The question I am asked most frequently is why I remain such a positive person, after surviving breast cancer, lymphoma, dialysis, two kidney transplants and systemic myasthenia gravis. The answer is simple: I am Cherokee, and I am a woman. No one knows better than I that every day is indeed a good day.” “

Have a great weekend!

Friday Link Love

It’s a beautiful sunny Friday here in Colorado. Today’s link roundup includes a delicious recipe from a modern homesteader and some food for thought as well.

Have you checked out the Tattered Cover’s events lineup this month? I’m already geeking out over George R. R. Martin coming to town, and I still have three weeks to go.

When I lived in Boston, I loved Porter Square Books. They have a great post about supporting your local indie. Despite the fact that I work in publishing, it took the closing of one of my all-time favorite bookstores, The Curious George Bookstore in Harvard Square, for me to wake up to the plight of bookstores. A little more than two months ago, I resolved to never again buy books from Amazon. There was a little sticker shock at first as I adjusted to buying graphic novels at list price, but it was the right choice for me—to spend a little more money to invest in my community and in the future of books.

Do you follow Modern Homestead author Renee Wilkinson’s blog, Hip Chick Digs? This week, she posted this recipe for strawberry lemon marmalade, and I can’t wait to try it out this weekend. Yum.

Native Appropriations was on Al Jazeera! They even aired the “Don’t Tread on My Culture” video made in response to Operation code name Geronimo. Check out the video for a great dialogue on postcolonial appropriation of Native and indigenous culture:

Speaking of opening dialogues on race and the history of white supremacy in the US, Indian Voices author Alison Owing’s post on three of Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence set the Twitterverse a-tweeting over the holiday weekend. It’s worth a look.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Happy reading!

Familiar faces at ALA

We were delighted to see Trickster, Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection contributor Tim Tingle featured in today’s blog post from American Indians in Children’s Literature! Our ALA attendees, Brynn and Carolyn, had a great time at ALA. They’ll be posting their thoughts on the show this week, so stay tuned!

Friday Link Round-Up

It’s a gorgeous sunny Friday here in Colorado. I’m looking forward to a great Father’s Day weekend, and with that in mind, this week’s news roundup is a tribute to getting under the sun and off of the Internet.

Publishers Weekly has a great post on author tricks for staying offline while writing.

Our staff put together a list of their Father’s Day book picks. Check it out and maybe grab a book for Dad.

And while you’re shopping this weekend, get thee to a farmers’ market! The Vail Farmers’ Market and Art show begins this Sunday.

There are lots of great upcoming events at the Denver Botanic Gardens, including an evening nature walk with Dr. Daniel Wildcat, author of Red Alert!: Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge.

Finally, this week we were delighted to hear that Renee Wilkinson’s signing at Elliott Bay Book Company went well, and then saddened to hear that tragedy had struck the homestead. Poor Bertie!

Link love: Native American Blogs

As promised, today I’m going to share a roundup of the Native American blogs I stalk read regularly on a noncreepy basis.

Beyond Buckskin: Jessica Metcalfe’s blog on Native American fashion. She recognizes Native American fashion designers of all stripes—from high-fashion haute couture to Etsy sellers who are just beginning to make a name for themselves. This past weekend, she posted a video from Zuni Pueblo (represent!) jewelry designer Colin Coonsis, who is one of my favorites, and her blog has introduced me to a lot of new designers, like Martini Couture. She doesn’t shy away from calling out non-Native designers for appropriation either.

And speaking of appropriation, Native AppropriationsMy Culture Is Not a Trend, and Hipster Appropriations each cover Native American cultural appropriation in pop culture in their own way. Adrienne, the blogger behind Native Appropriations, covers the good and the bad with thoughtful analysis (her post on the Pendleton brand is a great example of this). My Culture Is Not a Trend dishes up examples of appropriations with a side of biting commentary (I frequently forward the post on Native jewelry). Bree and Marquita at Hipster Appropriations focus on hipster racism and yuppie culture, plus sometimes they quote Inigo Montoya.

And finally, because we’re all book nerds here,  American Indians in Children’s Literature is a fantastic source for good children’s books and scholarly critique. I started reading Debbie’s blog because she was a kindred soul, writing about the racist imagery and characterization in the Twilight books while sparklevamp fever swept the nation. I kept reading Debbie’s blog because she’s Pueblo (represent!) and she has great book recommendations.

Do you read any Native or book blogs that you love?