Book review: Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate
Okay, I realize I slightly sold out in even agreeing to review this book because being green is an insanely hot topic right now. However, (as Abbate points out) we as Christians are called to care for and steward the planet God has given us. As he writes on page 37, “How can a red-legged frog or a gorilla or a spotted owl fulfill its calling if our carelessness or indifference has caused its species to go extinct? Are we responsible for God being less honored, less glorified less praised?”
On the whole, I agreed with many of Abbate's points. Part of it is my hippie side, but walking or taking public transit instead of driving solo and growing your own food are things I want to do. I like knowing where my food comes from, and can the exhaust released by vehicles really be that good for the environment?
The latter portion of this book contains practical tips on caring for the Earth. I would tend to agree with Abbate that buying your food locally is more important than buying organically because of the harm caused to the environment by the transportation of food. Also, he brings up the point that thick skinned foods (bananas, watermelon, etc.) are able to withstand pesticides better than those with thinner skins (grapes, etc.). Personally, I'd love to live on a self-sustaining farm and grow all my won food...but let's face it, that's not in my foreseeable future. So what will I do? Buy local when possible (plus, it's fresher and just tastes better; Washington strawberries are better than Californian any day), turn off machines and lights when not using them, continue to walk instead of drive and continue to recycle. These things aren't always easy (driving is certainly faster), but they tend to actually save money (appliances that are turn off but still plugged in continue to suck energy, thus raising your bills). Growing your own food does take time and energy, but as Eric Brende in “Better Off!” points out, “it often makes no sense to save labor and time when 'labor' provides needed exercise and 'time' is spent with family or neighbors.”
I'm of the belief that when it comes to environment vs. people or nature vs. people, people are first. (Jesus died for people, not dogs.) I don't think Abbate would disagree with me on that, he just didn't come out in incredibly strong favor of that belief.
There were a few points I didn't agree with wholeheartedly, or at least would like to research more (such as global warming and carbon footprints), but overall, this book approaches the whole environmental/”green” issue from a Scripture focused point of view.