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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2009
I bought this book over 10 years ago and still re-read it from time to time. It follows the progress of a scientist who starts to question the validity of traditional science - due to the increasing speciality of scientists who cannot see the big picture outside of their field of expertise. Fukuoka explains his early failures with pruning experiments, but gradually things change and get better. He develops his 'natural farming' techniques that can rival 'traditional' methods in terms of yield, yet require less time and physical input to the land.

The books shows that a different way is possible - a gentler way. You learn so much about a man's struggle and his successes. Totally compelling and a classic.

Fukuoka died in 2008, aged 95 - his way of life enabled him to have a long and healthy time on earth - no bad thing!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 2000
If you are interested in the food you eat, the way this food is produced, or the environment please read this book. The role of modern science and economics within these topics are discussed in this book using hard facts and philosophy, in an easy to read manner. It may change the way you think. Part of the list price goes to plant trees in India to compensate for the use of pulp in this book!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2011
I'm always fascinated by people who say that organic farming can't be profitable, and biodynamic farming is for people with half a brain or advanced mental health issues, because when you think about modern, conventional farming methods (a depleted, ash-like earth only able to produce anything worth eating if "enhanced" by a million chemicals that the farmers have to apply with a mask and gloves on) biodynamic farming and the "no-dig" approach look like amazing good sense, the only way to go. The absolute fact is that biodynamic farming is, on the bottom line, every bit as economically viable as conventional farming.

The word "Revolution" is just right for the title of this book, as we desperately need to "turn back" to how people worked the earth until 50 years ago, because that's what worked, that's what sustains agriculture in the long term. Mr. Fukuoka invites us to look at our modern farming methods and decide for ourselves which is insane. This book's incredible asset is that Mr. Fukuoka was a "conventional" agricultural research scientist working for the Japanese government until his epiphany in the mid-forties, after which he commenced his experiments on "no-work" farming, and consequently his rejection of science comes from an informed standpoint. I adored this book because of the great sense that Mr. Fukuoka makes and his white-hot anger in the face of the insanity of today's farming methods.

Where this book falls down for me is the Buddhist/Taoist philosophizing. Mr. Fukuoka set up a pair of opposites as a theme throughout this book: science vs. nature, the idea being that nature is unfailingly a force for good and the whole of modern science is essentially, irredeemably bad; and in the same breath left no cliche unused in his renunciation of the differentiating, opposite-making mind. Mr. Fukuoka's antidote to the ills of today were that we should all go back to live in the mountains, with one bowl, two outfits and no running water. Beautiful though this ideal may be, it's just not practicable or desirable for 90% of people on this planet, just as it was an incredibly hard and relentless life for the farmers in days gone by - and hence the wrong-turn down the road of chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc back in the day. Mr. Fukuoka and his helpers may have wanted to live that particular life, but most people I know really do not. If I want to read about Zen and Tao, I'll read Zen Master Seung Sahn or Lao Tsu.

With that, still an excellent read on farming practices; recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 October 2009
The One-Straw Revolution is not really written as a book, but as a collection of short discursions. These cover the author's life, his farming methods, his conversations with the students that visited his farm, and his philosophy on the impossibility of understanding nature. For me the book got a bit repetitive by the end, but it was never less than readable and thought provoking. With hindsight I would have simply launched straight into reading the book, and left the rather wordy introductions by other authors till later.

If you are interested in the Japanese approach to life, then you might find "Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use" by Toshio Odate, of interest too.
Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use

I suspect that often we are striving to find a technical solution to the wrong questions, when books like this can make us wonder if maybe we should be asking a better question. File next to Thoreau's Walden.

Also worth seeking out material on Sepp Holzer the Austrian permaculturist and Against the Grain by Richard Manning, if you can find a copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2009
This amazing author has clear-eyed views about how we can encourage a healthier and happier way of life for ourselves through living with nature in a more ecological way. Fascinating and interesting ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 April 2013
This was the first of 3 books (translated into English) by this amazing Japanese farmer and philosopher. Comparatively little-known here, Fukuoka (RIP) is famous in India, where his techniques are being used to revive desert areas.

His communion with nature created, over the years, a natural farming technique requiring no machinery (no plowing or digging, ever!) or fossil fuel, no chemicals, no prepared compost and very little weeding. Yields are comparable to the most productive farms. Natural farming creates no pollution and the fertility of the fields improves with each season. He calls it "do-nothing farming" but it is more like "do-little" (harvesting is the most laborious part of the year).

In this book he tells the story of how he came to farm in this way, with a fascinating overview of his philosophy and farming techniques. Along the way, he has wonderful comments about many different things we take as normal in our lives. I was gripped with excitement at the tidbits of his philosophy scattered like gems here and rushed to buy his other two English-language publications. Although I am not a farmer and never likely to become one, his viewpoints are widely relevant. Many of his predictions, based on his amazing understanding of the power of nature and of the dangers of scientific thinking, have already come to pass.

He taught (and proved in his farm and elsewhere) that "nature is in balance and perfectly abundant just as it is. People, with their limited understanding, try to improve on nature thinking the result will be better for human beings, but adverse side effects inevitably appear. Then people take measures to counteract these side effects, and larger side effects appear. By now, almost everything humanity is doing is mitigating problems caused by previous misguided actions."

In his next, "The Natural Way of Farming", the author continues his critique of scientific farming and of our separation from nature. Finally, his translator comments that "Sowing Seeds in the Desert", his last work, is probably his most important. Fukuoka shares more of his philosophy and writes - in the later part of the book - about his world travels (via government and university invitations) to revegetate the deserts of the world using natural farming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2011
I bought this book with no intentions of it changing my perceptions of reality, but rather to read something different about agriculture. It certainly gave me a huge insight into natural farming methods (which i have put into practice on my allotment in the UK) but also rather remarkably managed to change my entire perception of myself and indeed my fellow humans. Whilst i would not agree with all of his philosophic arrivals (but most I do) the logic that he uses to arrive at them (much like his farming techniques) can be used to arrive at different ideas applicable to one's own life. The most beautiful and freeing thing that i took from this book is the absolute fact that i know nothing and never will know anything close to what is possible. Somehow the acceptance that i am a virtual ignoramus (in terms of universal knowledge) spurs me daily to learn more and more about as many different areas of knowledge as i can, and the more I learn the humbler and stupider i feel, which oddly makes me feel at peace and content. Now i never enter an argument to put forward my views but rather show people the outcomes i have arrived at by actually doing them. The famous Gandhi saying "You must be the change you want to see in the world" is brought into focus with this book and it could well be one of the spurs that brings around a real revolution in human consciousness as we tip over the edge into a post petroleum world.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2008
Masanobu Fukuoka defies western or modern agricultural techniques going down to the basics of traditional japanese life. No chemicals and no digging the land for an abundant and long term harvest. Planting with the heart. Mindfulness...
The book and Masanobu himself impressed me and I find myself following his path like that of a guru.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2012
The book itself is a wonderful narrative of a natural farming philosphy. I truly enjoyed and acutally savoured reading it. It created some kind of ambience of piece and simplicity in my mind. The only thing I missed - and I have to admit, that the book description did not promise it - was some more practical guidance, like a detailed description of daily routine at Mr.Fukuoka's farm, including times for each job, some recipes of simple home grown food etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2011
This book is not really a 'how to' book, especially for me living in the UK. It is based on a Japanese form of subsistence farming not available to those of different climates and cultures (would an Englishman really want rice to be his main crop?). However, the content of the book is not really designed to make you want to emulate the author exactly, but to consider how you already grow and gather food, and to ask can I NOT do something to make growing the food easier. A very thought provoking idea, not one I intend to take up staright away, but it is definitely something to keep in mind, and possibly aspire to in the future. (This may not make it sound like is an essential read, which it isn't for a relative novice gardener like me).

So consider this book somewhere between a philosophy book, and a regular vegetable gardening book. I would definitely recommend it to any vegetable gardener/allotmenteer, particularly if you are, or try to be, organic.
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