Nourishment: Fred Provenza's new book


Fred Provenza’s much-anticipated new book will be launched next week. Long-time readers of Yarns from the Farm will recognise Fred’s name as the mentor who, along with Alice the sheep, taught me all I know about the interactions between plant and animal grazing behaviours.

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Fred’s book traces his own journey of discovery about the way animal foraging behaviour interacts with the chemical defences of plants trying not to be eaten to death by herbivores. He and his students developed the concept of “nutritional wisdom” to describe the combination of learned behaviour and innate ability to understand the beneficial aspects of those chemical defences (called secondary compounds) and make use of them to improve dietary balance and to self-medicate. Secondary compounds are the pharmaceuticals of the natural world, and in fact the basis of almost all “modern” medicines.

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Fred’s research and advice led me first to keeping mothers and babies together, rather than weaning and separating into year classes, allowing mama’s knowledge to be passed along to her babies—a process requiring a couple of years. Then, as I began to learn more about the diversity of forages on my farm, and their scattered distribution, Fred’s advice again helped me to choose active shepherding as my main technique for ensuring my flock gets the best possible set of choices for exercising their nutritional wisdom.

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In Nourishment, Fred takes his own research ideas as a base for exploring the implications for human nutrition. His scholarly credentials to do this are exemplary. His warm, human approach to the topic makes his book accessible to anyone who is interested in understanding more about the way our human bodies respond to diversity in nutrition.

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Nourishment can be ordered from Chelsea Green Publishing (pre-order), Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or your local bookstore $24.95 USD • ISBN 978-1-60358-802-7

I look forward to your comments!


“In this magnificent book…Provenza weaves together philosophy, nutritional science, memoir, and his humble appreciation for the natural world into an inspiring meditation on our moment on Earth.”

—Courtney White, author of Grass, Soil, Hope

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