The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society - ECW Press

The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society

Waltner-Toews, David

  • The Origin of Feces takes an important subject out of locker-rooms, potty-training manuals, and bio-solids management boardrooms into the fresh air of everyone’s lives. With insight and wit, David Waltner-Toews explores what has been too often ignored and makes a compelling argument for a deeper understanding of human and animal waste. Approaching the subject from a variety of perspectives — evolutionary, ecological, and cultural — The Origin of Feces shows us how integral excrement is to biodiversity, agriculture, public health, food production and distribution, and global ecosystems. From the primordial ooze to dung beetles, from bug frass, cat scats, and flush toilets to global trade, pandemics, and energy, this is the awesome, troubled, unexpurgated story of feces.

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  • David Waltner-Toews is a veterinarian and epidemiologist. He is the author of The Chickens Fight Back: Pandemic Panics and Deadly Diseases That Jump from Animals to People (Greystone Books, 2007) and Food, Sex and Salmonella: Why Our Food Is Making Us Sick (Greystone Books, 2008).

  • Published: May 2013

    ISBN: 9781770411166

    Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.

    Pages: 232


“David Waltner-Toews has written a fascinating little book on the subject, full of small- and large-scale insights, esoteric yet riveting assessments of globalization, and wisecracks that are no doubt unavoidable given the subject matter...It’s a book worth reading.” —New York Journal of Books

“Uses humour and science to discuss its evolutionary, ecological and cultural perspectives. He shines a light on a subject many people would rather not think about, thank you very much.” —The Record

“Waltner-Toews takes as humorous approach to the scatological subject as you can; one chapter is titled ‘The Other Dark Matter.’ But at the heart of the book is a rather weighty message: ‘Unless we change how we think about’ waste, he writes, ‘we are doomed to forever live in it.’” — The Washington Post

“It may be a poor topic for polite company, but we can learn a tremendous amount from both human and animal waste. . . . Until you read this, you really won’t know sh*t.” — Publishers Weekly, starred

“At the heart (or gut) of The Origin of Feces is the idea that whether we like it or not, excrement is not only connected to every aspect of our lives but is also a crucial ingredient of life itself...Those sorts of ideas, along with a load of surprising facts and a good dose of levity (your inner five-year-old will think the poop jokes are hilarious), make for an enjoyably absorbing and profound read.” —Canadian Geographic

“David Waltner-Toews picks up the thread with his impassioned treatise on the long, strange, even transcendent afterlife of poop in The Origin of Feces, a book whose cover is guaranteed to make you few friends at the coffee shop.” —

“In many modern societies, poop is perceived as a problem— potentially dangerous waste that has no place in our lives... in the cleverly-named The Origin of Feces, Canadian veterinarian and epidemiologist Waltner-Toews does the dirty work of dispelling that perception.” — National Geographic

“Whether it's a gag gift, a toilet-side alternative to Sudoku or just some light, easily digestible po(o)p-sci fare, The Origin of Feces is sure to be a fun and pungent read.” —