Earth Friendly ideas from Ideal Bite: Your place for green living tips made fun and easy, green consumer, organic foods, organic living, eco-friendly, ecologically sustainable lifestyle website!

OK, I don’t know how these might work out but the premise is right with me so I’ll “Bite”. I’ll let you know what I think…Or jump on over and try them yourself…

We know that you would just love to “do the right thing” for yourself and the planet if it were convenient, fun, inexpensive, and made you feel good. But until now you have lacked a good source of advice for real people leading busy lives.

Congrats. Now you have a free one. See a sample of these short & sassy eco-living tips that arrive each weekday, then…

Here’s their sample Bite:

The Bite:

Use water filters instead – tap water might contain contaminants, but (believe it or not) bottled water isn’t always cleaner. Use home water filters such as faucet-mounted or pitcher filters – the best way to ensure a clean supply of drinking water at home.

The Benefits
  • Save the 1.5 million tons of plastic expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year.
  • Get rid of contaminants normally found in tap water such as chlorine, cryptosporidium, Giardia , lead and pesticide runoff.
  • Save money – check out the Bang for the Bite (left) for the juicy details.
  • Filters are a safer bet – up to 40% of all bottled water comes from a city water system, just like tap water.
Personally Speaking

We both have faucet-mounted Brita filters and are somewhat notorious for refilling and carrying hard plastic water bottles with us everywhere.

Wanna Try?
  • Brita – this is our favorite – $34.99 (refill filters are $32.99 for 2)
  • Pur – Very pretty, for you brushed chrome lovers… $49.49 (replacement filters: 4 for $37.98)
  • Top 10 home water filters , water purifiers & water treatment system brands compared by price, performance and ongoing costs
  • Nice cost comparison of various water filter options available

 

Source: Earth Friendly ideas from Ideal Bite: Your place for green living tips made fun and easy, green consumer, organic foods, organic living, eco-friendly, ecologically sustainable lifestyle website!

On eating locally in winter | By Umbra Fisk | Grist

 Another sustainable living piece. In case anyone notices, these stories catch my interest and go into the mental filing cabinet as I plan for that move to the mountains in a few years…

Eating locally in New Hampshire, though — let’s think about the specifics of that quest. For one, you’ll need to adjust your diet (I may be presumptuous in thinking of turnips as outside your normal purview). For two, what is local to you? Is it Strafford County? Is it New England? In the winter you may need to broaden your concept of local to include not only your food’s producers, but your food’s purveyors. If none of the producer-related steps above work or entice, switch your winter focus from producers to locally owned grocers. In an era of megastores and giant corporate foods, all businesses in the local-foods chain need your allegiance.

Source: On eating locally in winter | By Umbra Fisk | Grist | Ask Umbra | 20 Nov 2006

On eating locally in winter | By Umbra Fisk | Grist

 Another sustainable living piece. In case anyone notices, these stories catch my interest and go into the mental filing cabinet as I plan for that move to the mountains in a few years…

Eating locally in New Hampshire, though — let’s think about the specifics of that quest. For one, you’ll need to adjust your diet (I may be presumptuous in thinking of turnips as outside your normal purview). For two, what is local to you? Is it Strafford County? Is it New England? In the winter you may need to broaden your concept of local to include not only your food’s producers, but your food’s purveyors. If none of the producer-related steps above work or entice, switch your winter focus from producers to locally owned grocers. In an era of megastores and giant corporate foods, all businesses in the local-foods chain need your allegiance.

Source: On eating locally in winter | By Umbra Fisk | Grist | Ask Umbra | 20 Nov 2006

Rediscovering Eliot Coleman

Ok, my earlier post has led to some time wasting (not really) on the web. Barbara wrote this article back in September 2000.

Eliot has a saying: “If you have $30,000, you’ll come up with a $30,000 solution. If you have only 30 cents, you’ll come up with a 30-cent solution. That’s nature’s way. If what you’re doing in the garden is expensive or complicated, it’s probably wrong.” The simplest garden wisdom:
Make compost, as much as you can. No fertilizer is better.

  • Keep tools basic. Eliot made many of our garden tools. Some of his designs, such as the “collinear hoe” and the “wire weeder,” are sold in the catalog from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Albion, Maine.
  • Keep rows of newly sown seeds moist; especially carrots, which germinate slowly. Sprinkle them daily until they germinate.
  • Alternate vegetables with green manures, such as red clover and buckwheat.
  • Don’t worry about pests. “Relax,” says Eliot. “Bugs are indicators, not enemies. They tell us that something isn’t quite right with our soil or growing conditions.” If you keep the soil aerated and fertile (that means compost again, of course), your plants will be less stressed and they’ll attract fewer pests.
  • Pay attention to your garden and learn from what it has to teach you. Look and see how Mother Nature does things, and take your cue from her.
  • Share what you learn. “Farmers and gardeners shouldn’t hoard secrets. An idea expands when different growers try it out. Information is like compost; it does no good unless you spread it around.”

Naturally, for Eliot Coleman, it all comes back to compost.

Link to americanprofile.pdf

Winter Harvest Manuel ::: Four Season Farm

Ok folks, I guess I am losing it. I first read Eliot Coleman back in the early ’70’s in The Mother Earth News ( I still have the first 10 or 12 years of issues), and I have been reading the “Cook’s Garden” ever since I managed to start pulling in the Washington Post off the Internet. I did not know until today that Eliot and Barbara were married…I discovered the fact when I wandered over to their website for their “Four Season Farm“.

THE WINTER HARVEST MANUAL
Order Winter Harvest Manual
Foreword

The traditional fresh produce season for market gardeners in the colder parts of North America begins in June and ends in September. For the past eight years, in defiance of our long, cold Maine winters, we have been developing an environmentally sound, resource efficient, and economically viable system for extending fresh vegetable production into “the other eight months.” We call it the “winter harvest.” Our success thus far is very encouraging. We currently sell freshly harvested salads and main course vegetables from the 1st of October until the 31st of May.

This manual records our recent experiences in planning, carrying out, and fine tuning a fresh vegetable production and marketing operation on the back side of the calendar.

Source: Winter Harvest Manuel ::: Four Season Farm

For me the first thing that came to mind when I red the above (and additional info on their site) was what a great way for someone trying to make it in small scale farming in this day. Not only are you supplying something needed in a time when most of that product is coming from far away, but you will be supplying a superior product locally when you command a premium.

It even sound like you could probably earn enough on the out side of the calendar to enjoy a bit of relaxation in the “season” when prices are down and everyone is competing for the almighty dollar.

Walking the Berkshires: Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

Talk about a neat idea. All you folks burning wood might want to keep a few boxes on hand for emergencies…

Bio Bricks, a product that is clean burning, produces just 1% ash, is renewable and utilizes low value forest products.   A Connecticut producer makes fifty tons of these a day and can’t keep up with demand.  In fact, the biggest challenge facing this entrepreneur is a steady supply of dry wood chips of the appropriate size and consistency (ideally not more than 8% moisture content).  The chips are fed into a hopper and compressed into bricks that are held together by the heated lignants in the wood.  Bio Bricks have no additives and use chips and sawdust from clean wood (not pallets).  You only need three of them to make a fire in your wood stove or fireplace, they are bug free, and can be stored indoors. 50 packages of these bricks are the equivalent of 1 1/2 cords of wood and are competitively priced.

Source: Walking the Berkshires: Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

The Industrial Agricultural Complex

Michael Pollan had an article in the New York Times that spells out many reasons for locally grown food. Writing about the recent E. coli contamination he had this to say…

The Vegetable-Industrial Complex – New York Times: “…if industrial farming gave us this bug, it is industrial eating that has spread it far and wide. We don’’t yet know exactly what happened in the case of the spinach washed and packed by Natural Selection Foods, whether it was contaminated in the field or in the processing plant or if perhaps the sealed bags made a trivial contamination worse. But we do know that a great deal of spinach from a great many fields gets mixed together in the water at that plant, giving microbes from a single field an opportunity to contaminate a vast amount of food. The plant in question washes 26 million servings of salad every week. In effect, we’re washing the whole nation’s salad in one big sink.

It’s conceivable the same problem could occur in your own kitchen sink or on a single farm. Food poisoning has always been with us, but not until we started processing all our food in such a small number of ‘kitchens’ did the potential for nationwide outbreaks exist.”

He also points out what is becoming increasingly clear to me…We shouldn’t be worrying so much about planes flying into buildings, we need to worry about one person in the processing plant with a bag of contaminant in their pocket…When the E. coli outbreak first started and the papers started reporting the outrageous statistics on the production of salad greens in one California valley I was already seeing the writing on the wall. Talk about having all of your eggs in one basket. When I commented on my fears to my wife she was unused to hearing me express such pessimistic thoughts about terrorism.

When Tommy Thompson retired from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, he said something chilling at his farewell news conference: “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”” The reason it is so easy to do was laid out in a 2003 G.A.O. report to Congress on bioterrorism. ““The high concentration of our livestock industry and the centralized nature of our food – processing industry-make them – vulnerable to terrorist attack.” Today 80 percent of America’’s beef is slaughtered by four companies, 75 percent of the precut salads are processed by two and 30 percent of the milk by just one company. Keeping local food economies healthy — and at the moment they are thriving — is a matter not of sentiment but of critical importance to the national security and the public health, as well as to reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

I can already envision the government answer to this and it isn’t mine…More security on fewer places…A green zone, so to speak, where food is processed. Outsourced, of course, to KBR…

If nothing else, these outbreaks and their massive and overnight spread around the country should be a wake up call to the American consumer. Locally grown food is the best protection to any number of disasters – natural or manmade.

Bill Moyers discusses the spread of environmental concern among evangelicals | By David Roberts | Grist | Main Dish | 05 Oct 2006

One of the best things Texas has ever produced, at least from this liberal’s viewpoint…Bill Moyers.

Bill Moyers discusses the spread of environmental concern among evangelicals | By David Roberts | Grist | Main Dish | 05 Oct 2006: “Just after the 2004 election, in his 70th year, legendary journalist Bill Moyers retired from full-time television, giving up the reins of his beloved PBS show Now. But Moyers has not left behind his vocation or his network. This month, PBS will air a new three-part special, Moyers on America.

The second part — Is God Green?, airing Oct. 11 — traces the growing environmental consciousness of conservative evangelical Christians.”

I stumbled on the first episode of the series and it kept me up past my bedtime. I plan to stay up late again tomorrow night…Check out your local listings.

Eat Local

This months issue of Mother Jones has an article on Polyface Farm and Joel Salatin. His comments on farming and politics really speak to me.

No Bar Code: ““We don’t have to beat them,” Joel patiently explained. “I’m not even sure we should try. We don’t need a law against McDonald’s or a law against slaughterhouse abuse—we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse.

“And make no mistake: it’s happening. The mainstream is splitting into smaller and smaller groups of like-minded people. It’s a little like Luther nailing his 95 theses up at Wittenberg. Back then it was the printing press that allowed the Protestants to break off and form their own communities; now it’s the Internet, splintering us into tribes that want to go their own way.””

One of the things we always do when we come to Boone is visit the Watauga County Farmers Market, which is pretty much what they are talking about here. Buy local, get to know the local producers it’s the best protection you have to insure the quality of your food.

I really liked the term Joel used in the following quote to equate the production of food to the ecology of the area the farm is located in:

“No, I don’t think you understand. I don’t believe it’s sustainable—‘organic,’ if you will—to FedEx meat all around the country,” Joel told me. “I’m afraid if you want to try one of our chickens, you’re going to have to drive down here to pick it up.”

This man was serious. He went on to explain that Polyface does not ship long distance, does not sell to supermarkets, and does not wholesale its food. All of the meat and eggs that Polyface produces is eaten within a few dozen miles or, at the most, half a day’s drive of the farm—within the farm’s “foodshed.”

I think I really like that term “foodshed”, pretty much says every thing you need to say…If you are in the “foodshed” of Polyface Farm you might want to check’em out. This is the kind of grassroots action that could just take-off (after half a century of trying).