Friday, March 23, 2012

Oily Food

"Oily Food"
by Steven L. Hopp

"Americans put almost as much fuel into our refrigerators as our cars. We're consuming about 400 gallons per year per citizen-about 17 percent of our nation's energy use-for agriculture, a close second to our vehicular use. Tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigation, sprayers, tillers, balers and other equipment all use petroleum. Even bigger guzzlers on the farm are not the machines, but so-called inputs. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides use oil and natural gas as their starting materials, and in their manufacturing. More than a quarter of all farming energy goes into synthetic fertilizers.

But getting the crop from seed to harvest takes only one-fifth of the total oil used for our food. The lion's share is consumed during the trip from the farm to your plate. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thirsty steps include processing, (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, warehousing and refrigeration. Energy calories consumed by production, packaging and shipping far outweigh the energy calories we receive from food.

A quick way to improve food-related fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil and drink it. More palatable meal options are available. If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels every week.* That's not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make a big difference. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Might I ask, 'who says eating isn't a political act?' Vote with your fork!

I read things that affirm my biases about the world. Most human beings tend to gravitate towards materials that confirm their assumptions and beliefs, which seems only natural.
I just finished reading "On a Dollar a Day," and I myself am all too familiar with making choices based on price, and not quality, out of necessity of trying to stretch that last five bucks. Since then I've come to see where the real costs of our cheap food settle;  the "savings" we see at the grocery store are an exploited environment: cleared forests, drained wetlands, eroded topsoil; dependence on oil and a limited supply of fossil fuels, polluted rivers and air, CAFOs, I could go on...

Maybe you financially can't make the choice for the $5.69 organic butter every week over the $2.99 generic brand, but start with things like ketchup that you don't purchase often. Paying an extra $.43 for ketchup is a cheap $.43 when you consider that you're paying for accountability, for clean air, clean water, for a farmer who respects the balance of nature and probably loves tomatoes. Start with paying an extra $.50 for toothpaste that doesn't contain food dyes, preservatives and endocrine disruptors. Start with just a few things from local farmers, or considering the amount of packaging on your food. For the longest time I scraped by, and still am, but I'm giving food the priority. I care about what I put in my body, and as I believe wholeheartedly in organics, if I don't support famers like me, who will?

*bold added.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Random updates

We're thinking of a small breed of cow or a couple goats to maintain the orchard and back pasture.
The cover crop is crawling with lady bugs, their larvae and crickets...blueberry bushes are humming and swaying with throngs of bumblebees...five types of butterflies were visiting the azaleas yesterday. This place is turning into a downright zoo! haha.

Blueberry bushes look great...

Spring has sprung!

Ten new hens have arrived; they're currently being quarantined from the rest of the flock just in case.

tiny eggs

 A hen went broody, so I made her a box and let her be. 21 days later...nine new babies.

 Greenhouse in the morning...

The house is slowly looking better.


I'm building in-row chicken tractors to help control weeds and crawling pests.
Found this picture of Mike-perhaps it was a halloween costume. He had no idea...

Inter-planted carrots, lettuce and garlic.

My new toy; Mike wanted to kill me. But, straight from the soapbox, folks, it saves the emissions comparable to driving a car 100 miles for every hour you use it. That's been a few hours so far! I love it because it's super light and everything adjusts, plus the blades are set up as a flywheel, meaning energy is stored from the wheels to keep the blades spinning even after you stop. No, I'm not getting paid by Fiskars.

Beginning of the orchard. Apples, plums, peaches, one bartlett pear, one pineapple pear.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Canning jars

Some of my canning jars are at least 102 years old!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Photos III

Another campfire dinner :)

The driveway after a heavy rain-aka: Loch Wee

GSU agroecology field trip

Picnic lunch when a couple friends visited: veggie bean soup and fresh bread.

Lisa works hard while Wayne naps; perhaps we wore him out.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pictures II

Store-bought chicks

Golden Comet

Ameracauna: my sister named this one Sopita, oh, sassy Sopita.

Sprouting redskins.

Chicks are growing fast.


Growing stuff in the greenhouse.

Blueberries are blooming.

Cozy chicks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Retirement Plan

I've pretty much always seen small, diverse farms as the answer to a lot of the world's problems. They are the sustainable answer to using less (or no) chemicals and fossil fuels for production and transportation, the answer to freshness and more nutrition; they build community and provide immediate security, in a sense, because we aren't screwed if the store sells out of eggs and bread in a storm.

Lately, though, I'm coming to see them in yet another light. I'm still fairly young and the future of the country, and the world for that matter can sometimes look a little bleak. The young people who are actually paying attention have real concerns about unemployment and the world. Will there be any social security by the time I "retire?" What might happen when oil shortages hit? Will the tiny bit of money I might squirrel away even hold it's value?

I'm coming to see this way of life as a retirement plan, and it's not that I want to spend all my time planning for forty years from now, however, I'll begin reaping the benefits now. Acquiring skills not everyone has and investing in tangible material goods and land means I won't be dependent on someone else to look out for me or feed me when I get older. Not to mention I find few things in life more satisfying than getting dirty and creative, inventing, being resourceful...that and picking food fresh from my backyard for dinner.