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Synopsis

In this age of climate change, killer germs, and obesity, it's easy to feel as if we've fallen out of synch with the global ecosystem. This ecological anxiety has polarized a new generation of Americans: many are drawn to natural solutions and organic lifestyles, while others rally around high-tech development and industrial efficiencies. Award-winning journalist Nathanael Johnson argues that both views, when taken to extremes, can be harmful, even deadly.

Johnson, raised in the crunchy-granola epicenter of Nevada City, California, lovingly and rigorously scrutinizes his family's all-natural mindset, a quest that brings him into the worlds of an outlaw midwife, radical doctors, renegade farmers and one hermit forester. Along the way, he uncovers paradoxes at the heart of our ecological condition: Why, even as medicine improves, are we becoming less healthy? Why are more American women dying in childbirth? Why do we grow fatter the more we diet? Why have so many attempts to save the environment backfired?

In this sparklingly intelligent, wry, and scrupulously reported narrative, Johnson teases fact from faith and offers a rousing and original vision for a middle ground between natural and technological solutions that will assuage frustrated environmentalists, perplexed parents, and confused consumers alike.

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