Science Book Group

Cover of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David R. Montgomery and Anne Bikle

Tuesday, October 11, 7:00–8:30 p.m. in King and via Zoom

Enough people have now requested IN-PERSON meetings that we are going to try out the “hybrid” solution; those who want to meet in person can do so at UUC, and those who wish to remain only on Zoom can do so at the same time.

On October 11 we will discuss the first half of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David Montgomery and Anne Biklé. (The above link is to Amazon but both the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System have copies of both the book and the eBook.) We will discuss the second half of the book on Tuesday, October 25.

Please join the Science Book Group on UUC Connect to receive more information, including the Zoom link.

About the book

This is a fantastic, very well written book that reads like a fast-paced novel but tells the story of the interconnected workings in soils, plants, and our own bodies. The presentation of the historical lineages of research and thinking that underpin the development and then overuse of fertilizers, antibiotics and many other “scientific facts” – until disproven – are fascinating and help put The Hidden Half of Nature in context. It is a great follow up to Entangled Life – which we all enjoyed.

UUC Science Book Group member

The Hidden Half of Nature” is a profoundly exceptional book… [Montgomery is] joined by his wife, Anne Biklé, a biologist, and catalyzed by their own life experience, they connect the dots across seemingly disparate domains of soils and the human gut that have the potential to form the ‘long green thread’ of a prosperous future for everyone except the fertilizer salesman.

Montgomery and Bikle begin with an enjoyable story of how, much to their own surprise, they were able to rapidly turn their dead fill dirt soil [in NE Seattle] into a living and productive garden by focusing on naturally building soil organic matter using things like mulch, coffee grounds, and compost. They then use this window and their scientific backgrounds to go on a rigorous journey about how all of this works. We learn that much of this insight was hypothesized long ago, but true scientific understanding has only emerged in recent years…

The implications of the book are both practical and profound. In personal health, the book can be seen as providing the scientific basis for Michael Pollan’s famous tag line “Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.” But it also helps us understand that the health of all of that “real food” begins with the functioning microbial ecosystem in the soil – without which, not only do the plants not grow, but they are short in the vital micronutrients that make you healthy…

Russ Conser in review on