“Engaging look at the merits of nature versus technology...Johnson's investigation is both horrifying and amusing, and readers will relish the colorful, witty writing and find much food for thought.” Booklist
“[Johnson] presents a refreshing optimism that neither extolls the organic to the point of supporting pseudoscience nor negates the value of scientific advancements…The book strikes at the heart of hot-button issues with an Everyman appeal.” Kirkus
“It's hard not to smile when [Johnson] writes tenderly about growing up as a naked back-to-nature kid raised on zucchini in a world of space-pod juice packets like Capri Sun and spreadable cheese food.” Spirituality & Health Magazine
“I had so much fun reading All Natural that I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband and summarizing Johnson's findings to my kids' teenage friends.” RANDI HUTTER EPSTEIN.COM + Psychologytoday.com
“His book is not only a fascinating read for those who want to get to the bottom of issues such as raw milk and home birth, but it is also a call for more sensible decision-making...Johnson's personal journey through the book, which he recounts with sparkling humor, begins with him shopping for the best ideology and ends with him trying to operate without any ideology--seeing 'the world both ways at once, with both eyes open.'” CONSERVATION MAGAZINE
“What's really welcome about his deeply reported book, All Natural, is that [Johnson's] upbringing makes the investigation of nature vs technology fun as well as thought-provoking...All Natural brings the arguments to life through a cast of wonderful farmers, neighbors, doctors, midwives and Johnson's own parents.” LOS ANGELES TIMES
“This is a quirky and fascinating book, one of a kind. Johnson's parents were stalwart hippies and raised him according to the orthodoxy that whatever is most natural is best, so: natural childbirth at home, no sugar in the diet, no clothing on the baby (not even diapers!), natural medicines etc. Johnson decides to examine the scientific basis of these practices, and lo and behold, discovers more justification than you would expect for a radically less-industrialized approach to managing the various stages of development, life and death.” Michael Pollan, Barnesandnoble.com
In his debut, journalist and This American Life contributor Johnson examines aspects of medicine, food and the environment to encourage informed decisions among readers caught between the nature-vs.-technology argument. The author personalizes his topics by filtering them through accounts of his upbringing during the 1980s as the son of then-countercultural parents who embraced natural living and through his journey into parenthood. Though he admits to a romanticism that favors a "natural aura," he remains open to contrary evidence and allows that both camps can be valid at different times. Johnson examines controversies with choice anecdotes, research and interviews, including: the success of midwifery at reducing maternal deaths in comparison to births aided by common obstetrical interventions; the belief that raw milk carries harmful pathogens while pasteurized milk is safer; the back-to-the-land school of thought when it comes to nutrition versus the results of industrialized chemistry; the purported dangers of sugar consumption; risks and benefits related to vaccination; homeopathic and allopathic approaches to medicine; and large-scale and sustainable farming. The most intriguing sections feature studies on human milk and on anthropological findings in remote areas, while sections that recall the author's childhood perspective border on the indulgent. Johnson surmises that nature and technology could coexist--a balanced and perhaps obvious view unlikely to satisfy the fringes--but he presents a refreshing optimism that neither extolls the organic to the point of supporting pseudoscience nor negates the value of scientific advancements. Not intended as an exposé, but as an overview, the book strikes at the heart of hot-button issues with an Everyman appeal.