with Steve Solomon:
Steve Solomon is the creator and librarian of soilandhealth.org, a free online
library of hygienic and other health-related books. He is a member
of INHS advisory board.
Where do you live?
Australia on a hillside overlooking a tidal estuary, where the
climate is much like Bordeaux. I have wineries below me too.
The climate is moderate: I am overjoyed to have a lemon tree
although the climate is marginal for other types of citrus and
there are no avocados on Tasmania. We get a bit of wintery winter
consisting of rain and occasional frosts that punctuate spells
of sunny cool pleasant weather.
- How did you find out about natural hygiene?
I went over the hill at the age of 37 various unconsidered self-damaging
dietary habits combined with drinking too much homebrew began
to cause dis-ease. The American medical model practitioner I
consulted offered no hope beyond ever-worsening symptoms that
he planned to suppress with drugs. Luckily I looked further for
a better answer than a middle age of slowly worsening health
and discovered a local hygienist named Dr. Isabelle Moser, who
had a spa/clinic helping resident fasters and non-resident patients.
She became my doctor. At her suggestion I fasted, did colonics,
changed my dietary. I improved. Healed. Learned. Three years
later Isabelle became my lover and then, my wife. She also had
a large library and I read all the classics of natural hygiene
from her collection. I lived with her and her healing practice
- What made you start your website?
1994 Isabelle decided to retire from active practice, especially
to retire from the stress of hosting resident fasters trying
to cure diseases. To facilitate this we took a few months off
and sitting on a veranda in rural Costa Rica wrote a book in
which she attempted to transmit her life's accumulation of healing
experience and wisdom. Then we sold our Oregon property and moved
to British Columbia. I submitted the book to numerous publishers
but none of them would have it, mainly, I believe because Isabelle
was an eclectic -- her viewpoints did not fit into any niche or
belief-system. Two years later Isabelle died. Desiring to honour
her life and wisdom I decided to put How and When To Be Your
Own Doctor online. That was the spring of 1997. This step
led to putting other books into what quickly became the Soil
and Health Library, which has continued and expanded to this
date. When I moved to Australia in 1998 I found myself in a freer
environment regarding copyrights and libraries, and the scope
of the library expanded.
- Do you have a link to the book you two wrote?
How and When To Be Your Own Doctor is in the Soil and
Health Library: soilandhealth.org/02/0201hyglibcat/020102moser/020102Moser00toc.html
- What is your purpose and philosophy?
like to put the medical model into proper perspective for others,
which is this, as I see it -- AMA style medicine is extremely useful
for fixing many sorts of traumatic injury, and little else. I
have interests in the whole spectrum of nutrition, from holistic
agriculture to speculation about the optimum human dietary to
healing and longevity. I believe the older books by the originators
of knowledge in these areas are often far better than the academic
stuff being churned out these days by people seeking to publish
or perish or profit. I also see that there are world-wide suppressive
influences tending to squash human initiative and the scope of
our actions, so I provide some few books that identify the sources
and mechanics of this suppression.
- Can you say some more about living in Tasmania?
Tasmania NOW is like Oregon WAS about half a century ago. It
is uncrowded. The economy is poor, revolving around trees and
sheep, a bit of mining and some arable land, so money-seeking
mainlanders are discouraged from coming and the young are encouraged
to leave for greater economic opportunity on the Mainland. Tassie
seems remote and the troubles of the world don't worry a person
quite so much here. The climate is familiar to me -- like western
Oregon -- but the sort of forest is different -- eucalypt. I feel
quite fortunate to be here.
- What is your profession and are you retired?
1979 I started, and then over the next eight years grew to substantial
size and then sold a mail-order vegetable garden seed business
called Territorial Seed Company. I retired at age 44, that was
in 1986. Since then I taught for three years at U of Oregon,
Dept of Landscape Archecture. My course was about the "Intellectual
History of Radical Agriculture." I've written a few vegetable
gardening books since selling Territorial Seed Co.
- Do you still do gardening? And grow your own food perhaps? And teach and write about gardening?
now grow about 50% of our annual calories. The garden produces
about 70% of our annual food budget. This is done on about 5,000
sq. ft. in a year-round gardening climate. My latest garden book
is "Growing Vegetables South of Australia," written
strictly for Tasmanians. Also in print is "Growing Vegetables
West of the Cascades, fifth edition" for those in Cascadia.
Once a year I teach a ten-week-long class in food gardening,
that usually hosts about 25 people. My main new interest is obtaining
a Private Pilots License; I am well on my way towards achieving
- Do you want to say something about your gardening books? Purpose, contents, for what climates?
write REGIONAL garden books providing specific information for
a climatic zone. Twice now I have found myself in a region (same
climate, strangely) where the indigenous people had no indigenous
source of information -- Cascadia and Tasmania. So I supply the
need. I do this mainly because I wish to engender independent
living and non-dependency.
- Do you have knowledge of animal-husbandry as well? Do you have animals now? Any advice?
much advice. I am a bit revolted at keeping animals. I wouldn't
mind shooting wild ones if I wished the meat, but domesticated
animals are a form of slave, and enslavement of any life form
enslaves the slave owner far worst than it damages the one enslaved.
I once did have chickens, rabbits, a beef steer. Long ago. But
I gave it up. Also, I eat little flesh now, and when I do I eat
it raw. Also, almost all meat animals on Tasmania are raised
quite naturally -- grass fed beef and lamb whilst eggs from back-yard
chickens are readily available -- so what little I want is easy
and inexpensive to buy. I only wish that unpasturized diary products
were easier to find; buying illegal drugs would be less difficult
than getting raw milk and the penalties for selling most drugs
are less harsh then for selling raw diary.
- Do you have any favorite hygienic books? What did you start with? And what books are the best for new-comers to start with?
am especially fond of the writings of Tilden and Linda Hazzard.
Tilden, I favour for his crustyness and unwillingness to tolerate
waffling out-ethics. I admire Hazzard for her profound understanding
of the fasting process. I find the doctrinaire rigidity of Shelton
to be a bit off-putting, but he may be the best for beginners,
especially his basic books -- the ones for the popular market.
I also admire Henry Bieler's Food Is Your Best Medicine,
which is inexpensively in print in paperback. Bieler is a Tilden
- What is your thinking on longevity -- and why separate it from health?
don't consider any of these topics separate. Diet, soil fertility,
agricultural systems, healing modalities, longevity: all are
holistically interlinked and none of these areas can be fully
comprehended without considering the others. About longevity:
my thinking is that Earth would be a far better place to live
if able, energetic, admirable people could be commonly encountered
who were over 100 years old.
- Do you have practical experience with home-steading? And with the other topics. Or is it mainly a theoretical interest?
have lived on a country homestead since 1978; I started out on
a one-acre urban homestead in 1973. I practice self-sufficient
living as much as possible and try to live so as to require a
little income as possible. I've done almost all of it; have made
almost every possible mistake. When I write about gardening it
is almost entirely from my own experience. I've gardened on several
different soil types and assorted microclimates. My biggest teacher
has been my vegie garden; next was Dr. Moser. In 1989 I set out
to fully educate myself about alternative agricultural systems
and spent two years of more than full time effort reading just
about everything ever written on the subject. I have been awarded
a PhD in the Intellectual History of Radical Agriculture by Solomon's
Autodidactic School of Knowledge.
- What are your favorite websites?
don't spend much time on the www, at least not much time poking
around. I read the Financial Times of London online because
online it is cheaper than buying it in print. The FT seems a
truly independent newspaper, apparently not controlled by the
clique running the main power structure on this planet.
- What is spiritual self-help -- and how does it relate to health?
lot of physical sickness is occasioned by the stresses caused
by spiritual "illness." More importantly, every body
dies. Every single one! Coming to terms with the essentially
spiritual nature of life and experience is perhaps the most important
thing a person can use a lifetime for.
- What is spiritual freedom? Do you want to say a bit more about : "My preferences are for methods that empower a person to self-determinedly handle their own development in an independent manner."
- Now this is an interesting question!
Freedom is not liberty. Many take spiritual freedom to mean having
abilities to act as a spiritual being to effect changes on the
physical universe -- to be god-like. I do not take this as the
meaning of the term.
Freedom means Free Doom. The ability to choose death before dishonour.
Or to choose death instead of anything one does not wish to experience.
Or merely to choose death as an experience to experience. When
one has true freedom then one can not be forced nor coerced.
One can only have freedom when one knows -- with great certainty -- that
they are an eternal spiritual being and that the temporary possession
of the current body is of little consequence. This certainty
can be developed, it can be increased by assorted practices.
It can be carried over to the next lifetimes.
We have a choice about being immortal beings -- we can do so knowingly
or unknowingly. Or anywhere in between these extremes. The only
choice we do not have is about being immortal. We just are that,
even if we wish to pretend that we aren't.
- Your late wife was obviously your inspiration to start this library project. But what keeps you going, what is your reward?
am a quiet revolutionary who dislikes direct confrontation, and
so I choose covert, sneaky ways to change consciousness. Like
- Can you say something about how the library has developed? Are social criticism and home-steading the newest parts?
all the parts were envisioned from the beginning in 1997. The
library is and was from the get go intended to be a complete
self-study course in liberation from enslavement -- food enslavement,
medical enslavement, etc.
- How do you decide if a book is (legally) possible to add to the library?
Aussie rules, a book has to be (1) out of print or (2) public
domain by Aussie rules, which are: fifty years after the author's
death. A patron must file a formal request asking for a copy
of this book to be supplied with a declaration that the copy
is required for purposes of study. The librarian must then duly
preserve that request and declaration in good order for three
years. My responsibility as the librarian is to make SURE the
title is out of print before supplying a copy. Should I make
an honest error I will be held harmless. These rules are far
more user-friendly than the American ones that mainly seem to
be protecting the interests of Time-Warner and Disney.
- Do you scan it yourself? how long time does it (typically) take to get a book online-ready?
I have done almost all the books myself. Occsionally I get a
volunteer. I use a flatbed scanner (fairly fast one) and ABBYY
FineReader 5.0. The time needed depends on the complexity of
the book. But your typical 320 page straight text book can be
done in about 12 clocked intense-work hours. Tables often have
to be hand keyboarded and can be very tedious. Illustrations
also take time to scan and adjust. The hardest book of all was
Krasil'nikov's Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants.
That one took me constant work for over a month -- maybe 60 hours.
- If someone has a book of possible interest for the library - what is you preferred procedure?
ask me by email
if I'm interested in the title. My website URL is http://www.soilandhealth.org
People have loaned me books; I pay postage to return them. Occasionally
I have paid postage both ways for a highly-desired title. I can
also work from a sharp photocopy so long as there are no photographs
in the book to be scanned. I've had rather poor results asking
others to do the OCR, proofreading and formatting into html.
The skills needed to do this work are rather high.
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