Most flowers on the market today are imported, mass-produced and chemical-laden. The 50 Mile Bouquet  by Debra Prinzing introduces some of the innovative voices of the dynamic new Slow Flower movement: the organic flower farmers, the sustainably-motivated floral designers…and the flower enthusiasts who are increasingly asking, “where and how were my flowers grown, and who grew them?”

With documentary-feature reporting and full color photographs, this visually elegant book takes us into the farms and design studios of these slow-flower folks to follow the green journey of the 50 mile bouquet. This is the first book to spotlight this major transformation in how cut flowers are grown, designed and consumed, which closely mirrors the locavore/slow food revolution in the culinary world. The 50 Mile Bouquet is the slow flower guide to organic flower-growing, gathering and design. Foreword by Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential. (provided by publisher)

Much more than a collection of recipes (although a fine selection is included), Edible: a Celebration of Local Foods is just as much a love letter to the farmers, ranchers, fishers and cooks that produce and create with the bounty found in this country (and southern Canada). If this book doesn’t send you straight to the Farmer’s Market (or your own backyard garden), nothing will.

Divided into six regions (Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, California and the West, Pacific Northwest and Midwest) Edible starts with a series of thoughtful, often humorous, always enlightening articles and essays about the difficulties and rewards of producing local, organic sustainable food. Farmers, chefs and organizations are highlighted for each region including a listing at the end of each chapter of things that are unique to that area (Muscatine melons for Iowa for instance, or razor clams in Seattle) that make this worth checking out before your next road trip.

Celebrating the simple beauty of food, A Platter of Figs by David Tanis will tempt you with beautiful, unpretentious recipes, gorgeous photos and a simple philosophy – cooking should be a joy, eating should be a pleasurable experience and both should preferably be shared with friends.

The recipes are arranged seasonally, spring through winter, rather than by course, the idea being you should celebrate what each season offers. This fits in nicely with the current trend toward eating locally and sustainably, but it also has everything to do with flavor – fresh picked, in-season food is undeniably the best tasting.

Recipes range from the simple – Warm Asparagus Vinaigrette – to the more complex – Chicken Tagine with Pumpkin and Chickpeas – but all are clearly explained. Stories of Tanis’s life and travels (which are reflected in his recipes) are scattered throughout the book, adding a warm and friendly atmosphere to the cookbook. A beautiful book about beautiful food.

October is a great time to get your house ready for winter. You know the drill — have your furnace checked, caulk up those drafty holes, clear out those gutters. But with heating bills sure to rise, it may also be time for an energy audit. In the Quad Cities, Mid-America supplies both gas and electric energy to most homes, but they also offer this service, called EnergyAdvantage Home Check. You do need to make an appointment, but they will come to your home and offer energy-saving suggestions. At my house, the person doing the energy audit not only gave us new lightbulbs and low-flow showerheads, he actually took the time to install them! I don’t know if this is standard service or not, but I was very impressed with this service.

In the meantime, if your looking for other ideas on how to save energy around your house, check out these new titles at the library:

Greening Your Home: Sustainable Options for Every System in Your House by Clayton Bennett. This slim paperback is loaded with ideas for changing your lifestyle, as well as for using new technology (such as low-flow faucets) to save time, energy and money.

50 Simple Steps to Save the Earth from Global Warming is another easy-read paperback with very practical tips. For example, Step #8 – Unplug your chargers. Did you know that 95% of the energy used by mobile phone chargers is wasted? I didn’t.

Energy Crossroads: a Burning Need to Change Course. This is a new DVD that, according to the cover jacket, “comprehensively covers the key aspects of the energy/environment/economy dilemma.”