Stalking the Vegetannual | by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007

Fred First pointed a link at this article. Thanks Fred. The entire article is worth the read but I found the last paragraph very important…

Locally grown is a denomination whose meaning is incorruptible. Sparing the transportation fuel, packaging, and unhealthy additives is a compelling part of the story. But the plot goes beyond that. Local food is a handshake deal in a community gathering place. It involves farmers with first names, who show up at the market week after week. It involves consumers who remember that to be human is to belong to a food chain, wherever and whenever we find ourselves alive. It means remembering the truest of all truths: we are what we eat. Stepping slowly backward out of a fuel-driven industry of highly transported foods will alter more than a person’s grocery list. Such small, stepwise changes in personal habits aren’t trivial. Ultimately, they will add up to the story of who we were on this planet: what it took to keep us alive, what we left behind.

Source: Stalking the Vegetannual | by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007

Globalization – Another Point of View

I was reading email withe the NewsHour playing on the TV on Friday night when I heard an interview that captured my total attention.

Going Global
As part of his ongoing series of conversations about globalization, Paul Solman talks with Indian activist Vandana Shiva.

It was the comments of Vandana Shiva that just blew me away. I found myself agreeing with a lot of her arguments. If you have a bit of time the interview is worth the listen. Podcast

I now find myself looking for more info on her writings.

She appears to be well published in Resurgence Magazine. Here are some quotes from Issue 240…

Both ecology and economics have emerged from the same root: oikos, the Greek word for ‘household’. As long as economics was focused on the household, it recognized and respected its basis in natural resources, the limits of ecological renewal. It was focused on providing for basic human needs within these limits. Economics based on the household was women-centered.

There are also three levels of economy: nature’s economy, people’s sustenance economy, and the market economy. Nature’s economy is the foundation of all economies because it supports all life on Earth. In nature’s economy the currency is life and processes that maintain life. Money cannot measure nature’s health and wellbeing.

I have witnessed again and again that as people’s resources are commoditized and people’s economies are commercialized, money flow does increase in society, but it is mainly outflow from nature and people to commercial interests and corporations.

Source: Resurgence Magazine Issue 240: How Weaalth Creates Poverty

For more of her writings on Resurgence try this LINK

What happened to Spring?

Walked out the front door this morning an the warm, heavy, still air reminded me more of early summer than of spring. I am sure there are a lot of folks who would love the weather we are having already this spring (my wife included), but it is just reminding me that this past winter has been the warmest since we began to keep weather records. I am not comfortable when the temperature hits the 80’s the humidity hits the 90% range and the wind doesn’t blow…Not comfortable at all. I guess if the scientists are right though I better learn to cope.

I received the first volume of the Highroad Guides I ordered, the “Highroad Guide To The North Carolina Mountains” by Lynda McDaniel. I started reading it last evening after running my blogroll. The was a paragraph in the preface that I would like to share…

“Not until the town of Hickory do we catch sight of these mountains. Just around a curve in the road, they suddenly reshape the horizon and, for a moment, make our breath catch. They are beautiful, majestic, glorious, and for the lucky ones, home. Magically, once they are in sight, we seem to coast toward them, even though the journey courses uphill the rest of the way.”

That passage brings back my first journey into these mountains I have come to love. I like to think it’s just my ancestral memory pulling me home, but chances are it’s those unfulfilled dreams of my young adulthood wanting to be recaptured and lived out.

I grew up a geology nut and a rockhound in a part of the country that has neither. As I walk the highroads of the North Carolina Mountains, all of these childhood curiosities come back to me…What is that flower? That rock? That tree looks like a pecan, is it a hickory? Every step bring new questions. The easiest way to recapture a portion of your youth is to remove yourself from the familiar.

One of the things that drives my family to distraction when we vacation in these mountains is my constant driving to explore. I want to “know” the area, drive the backroads, see the old farms, smell the woods along the creeks, stand on the tops of the balds. I have a need to hold all of these mountains in my mind. To feel the aged glory of the oldest geology in the US. That is what keeps me returning, even on a short trip in the middle of the work day via the virtual reality of Google Earth. The pull of the squiggly lines on the topographical map, the need to stand and let the eye caress the reality represented in the mapmakers art. The unfamiliar wildlife mixed with the familiar, the unfamiliar flora, all of these things call me back…Call me home.

Email calls…

From the Washington news yeaterday…

“One of the leading scientific experts said the consensus supporting this view on global warming is as strong as anything in science — with the possible exception of gravity.”
Al Gore at Senate Hearings on Global Warming

Barbara Damrosch has a new column out that raises hope for the future of the family farm.`

But a significant number of farmers are now getting back in by remaining small — even tiny. In his book “MetroFarm,” radio host Michael Olson details the growing phenomenon of cities ringed with mini-farms, sustained by the proximity of specialty markets. It’s an industry made up of many small niches, in which anything that sets a product apart from the uniformity of big-store fare is sought after and fetches a higher price. Your corner of the market might be an ethnic specialty such as Asian greens. It might be crops that chefs love, such as celeriac and mache. It might be artisanal cheese or fresh eggs with bright-orange, stand-up yolks. It might be cold-weather crops, seasonally grown. Or it might just be the freshness and flavor of food grown closer to home and with more care. The experience of shopping is often part of the product, too. A family or community atmosphere adds value to what’s for sale.

Source: ‘Bumpkins’ Grow Their Own Bliss – The Washington Post

Walking the Berkshires

GreenmanTim has some interesting things to say about a proposal for a traveling meat processing plant. If America wants to reach a more sustainable means of feeding ourselves this could be one of  the methods needed to reach that level. Tim writes some very interesting articles on his site, this one was quite informative as usual. If you are interested in sustainable agriculture, go check out the rest…

What they lacked were meat processing and packaging services.

This is a critical problem not only for New England but across much of the United States, where just 4 mega-corporations process 80% of America’s meat.  There is increasing demand for locally-produced meat, raised without antibiotics or hormones, and people are willing to pay a premium for the security of knowing where their food comes from and who produces it.  they also care about supporting local agriculture and the regional farm economy.

Source: Walking the Berkshires

Address to the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food conference – By Tom Philpott

I stumbled on Tom Philpott a long while back in connection to my interest in the Boone, NC area. He led me to Grist, where I’ve followed his articles weekly. I found this weeks column covering a talk he gave a good recap of his past articles. If you don’t know Tom click on over and check out what he has to say about “the eco-politics behind your food”.

Tucked into the rolling hills of North Carolina’s Swannanoa Valley, Warren Wilson College is essentially surrounded by a farm. The school’s 800 students not only tend the 275-acre farm — which includes pastured livestock and vegetables — they also provide the labor to run the campus. They do everything from accounting to plumbing to cooking in the cafeteria. I’ve had the privilege of hosting several Warren Wilson kids at Maverick Farms, and I’ve been amazed at how well those kids know how to work, and have plenty of fun while doing it.

Since my last two trips to NC have carried me past Maverick Farms front door, and I’ll be going that way again this summer, I really need to stop by and say thanks for the informative words each week.

Source: My address to the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food conference | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 08 Mar 2007

Gardening by Podcast

Back in January I posted on a newspaper article out of Memphis about Felder Rushing and his concept of Slow Gardening. After that I stumbled across a link to a Podcast of a weekly gardening show on Mississippi Public Radio called the “Gestalt Gardener” with Felder and Dr. Dirt. If you enjoy gardening go take a listen to a couple of very entertaining and informative “characters”. I have become a big fan and can hardly wait for the Monday download of the Friday show.

Their info is aimed at the Mississippi Gulf Coast but it’s so entertaining…Who cares if you can’t raise the plant they are talking about.

Lunch with Michael Pollan and John Mackey

I spent my lunch hour (x2) with Michael Pollan and John Mackey watching the webcast of their recent UC Berkeley gabfest. I thoroughly enjoyed the time. Both men appeared to be totally involved with their subject. John Mackey used the opportunity to make several initiative announcements for Whole Foods Market. I found myself being impressed with his talk. Some people seem to have been unhappy with the fact that the two men weren’t more at odds. I thought, given the nature of their past dialog, that the two men almost seem to have become friends. At least the impression that came across to me was that they respected each other.

I could be wrong, but I really wish there were more Whole Foods Markets around, especially closer to me. The whole idea of buying local kinda goes out the door when you have to do a 90 min round trip to buy your food…In my neck of the woods, the HEB Central Market brand rollout to all off their stores is going to make a bigger impact on the eating habits of a larger market.

I have read a lot of articles by Michael Pollan in the last few months. I guess I really need to buy the book. Why is it that I seem to spend a big part of my life book poor? Lots and lots of books, very little in the way of extra money. Oh well, when you don’t have the money to go and do, life seems just a little better with a good book to keep you company.

Fred, if you happen to be reading this, keep the camera handy, looks like Sunday or Monday could offer up another frosty morn for the image making. They are even predicting a possible freeze for the northern suburbs of Houston . We only thought old man winter was through with us. We have a lot of tender new growth showing here, it could be ugly.

On the drive in this morning I passed a couple of redbud trees that were bursting into bloom. The first sign of spring in SE Texas is usually these bloom covered small trees. I haven’t stopped and snapped a photo since I really don’t want anyone getting upset with me photographing their house early in the morning, but, hopefully I’ll get out this weekend and take a shot or two…But in the meantime you can go here for a shot. Another flowering plant showing up here and there are the Azaleas. We have two small one in full bloom at home already and on the morning drive I saw a couple of others in bloom. The full Azalea blush hasn’t started here yet, but, it’s starting.

Lunch with Michael Pollan and John Mackey

I spent my lunch hour (x2) with Michael Pollan and John Mackey watching the webcast of their recent UC Berkeley gabfest. I thoroughly enjoyed the time. Both men appeared to be totally involved with their subject. John Mackey used the opportunity to make several initiative announcements for Whole Foods Market. I found myself being impressed with his talk. Some people seem to have been unhappy with the fact that the two men weren’t more at odds. I thought, given the nature of their past dialog, that the two men almost seem to have become friends. At least the impression that came across to me was that they respected each other.

I could be wrong, but I really wish there were more Whole Foods Markets around, especially closer to me. The whole idea of buying local kinda goes out the door when you have to do a 90 min round trip to buy your food…In my neck of the woods, the HEB Central Market brand rollout to all off their stores is going to make a bigger impact on the eating habits of a larger market.

I have read a lot of articles by Michael Pollan in the last few months. I guess I really need to buy the book. Why is it that I seem to spend a big part of my life book poor? Lots and lots of books, very little in the way of extra money. Oh well, when you don’t have the money to go and do, life seems just a little better with a good book to keep you company.

Fred, if you happen to be reading this, keep the camera handy, looks like Sunday or Monday could offer up another frosty morn for the image making. They are even predicting a possible freeze for the northern suburbs of Houston . We only thought old man winter was through with us. We have a lot of tender new growth showing here, it could be ugly.

On the drive in this morning I passed a couple of redbud trees that were bursting into bloom. The first sign of spring in SE Texas is usually these bloom covered small trees. I haven’t stopped and snapped a photo since I really don’t want anyone getting upset with me photographing their house early in the morning, but, hopefully I’ll get out this weekend and take a shot or two…But in the meantime you can go here for a shot. Another flowering plant showing up here and there are the Azaleas. We have two small one in full bloom at home already and on the morning drive I saw a couple of others in bloom. The full Azalea blush hasn’t started here yet, but, it’s starting.

Home Politics or Politics of Home

Susan Albert had a post yesterday that really spoke to me. I keep going back and re-reading what she had to say about Terry Tempest Williams and her book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.

In an interview titled “The Politics of Place,” Williams talks about the importance of staying home–or at least, staying in one place long enough to learn its seasons, its inhabitants, the names of things. Here’s a paragraph (the longer interview is definitely worth reading)

I believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among… The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms — plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings — then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put … if we don’t know the names of things, if don’t know pronghorn antelope, if we don’t know blacktail jackrabbit, if we don’t know sage, pinyon, juniper, then I think we are living a life without specificity, and then our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation.

Staying at home, learning a place well enough so that we can chart the changes–that’s a significant, meaningful commitment. Among all the other things we must do to protect this earth and the places we love, that’s right at the top.

As I read the above I find myself saying yea, that’s obvious. Then I realize that until I read it, It wasn’t. Then it starts me to thinking about what it means to those of us who feel the pull of a different place than the one we were raised in and call home. I have spent 53 years figuring out that the Texas Gulf coast, no matter how long I stay, lacks something that my nature calls out for. I never realized what it was until a few years ago driving back from the San Antonio area I felt the growing depression as the land flattened out towards home.

Since I find I agree with Terry Williams on the central part of her thesis, and I have spent my lifetime doing what she says, what does it say about me that I now find the need to do it all over again in a new/old place. Is it, as I think, that ancestral pull to the even older home? Or, is it just looking for the new experiences to reawaken the old wonder of the new?

Source: Lifescapes

Enough introspection so early in the morning. Let’s see if there is anything in the mornings email…

I see that the Floyd area is still having some fun with the below freezing temperatures this morning, though it looks like Boone and Valle Crucis are in the above freezing side of the thermometer.

Reading the Washington Post this morning I see that Richard Cohen has some good things to say about Al Gore.

Gore — the son of a senator himself — was raised for the presidency. But for the moment at least, he is showing all the irritating signs of a man at peace with himself. He abandoned Washington for Nashville. He has made a bundle in his investments, and he has set out to show that there is life after a failed candidacy, a purposeful life in which a man can do some good. His movie and his speeches are — to paraphrase what Clausewitz said about war — a continuation of politics by other means. He cannot make war but he can still make a difference.

If he runs are not, my hats off to Al Gore. He is making a difference by making a difference and in the long run that’s what matters.

Just to show how spring is trying to push on in this year, here’s a photo of the leaves popping out on the oaks in my yard.


Here is another…

Think Small – New York Times

I got this from Gristmill… 

A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds’ home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes.

This reduction of scale makes sense for a lot of people. Second homes are often geared toward outdoor activities, so for several months of the year interior space is superfluous. Minimal square footage means reduced maintenance costs, less upkeep and reduced energy consumption. Prefabricated and pre-built models can require little or no site preparation, which means no anxious weekend drives to the country to make sure construction is moving along. Add to this an element of instant gratification (once the planning stage is over, most houses go up in days, even hours, and many are delivered, turn-key, to the site).

Small homes have always intrigued me…Don’t tell the wife. It’s a good thing she never reads this blog. Way back in the ’70s I remember designing homes with  a footprint of 20′ square and a sleeping loft above. Looks like the world of design is catching up with my designs. Go read the article.

Source: Think Small – New York Times