Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Health is Wealth

The ill health of our economies and our natural systems are battling for first on the global agenda. Governments are trying to decide whether to invest in climate change mitigation or economic stimulus. Car companies are getting billion dollar bail outs while others suffer the economic downturn without aid. Treating the problems of the natural environment and the problems of the economy seperately is a mistake, economy and ecology are the same, the shared etymological root is oikos. Ecological health and economic health are inextricably linked. Boosting the economy without considering the natural consequences is addressing the symptom and not the problem. These global health issues must be treated holistically utilizing sustainable practices.

We must find ways to localize and reduce our ecological impacts. Our health and the health of our environment depends on it. As in the Son’s Flesh Sutra where a couple has to eat their own child to survive crossing the desert, if we continue to destroy the environment in order to feed the economy we have no chance of really surviving.

The good news is that holistic medicine for ill economies and natural systems are known and are being utilized. It starts with small communities. The benefits of community action in terms of management of natural resources and food production are incredible. When a community starts an organic garden or a sustainable forestry project they have healthy work, they promote natural systems, ecological tourism, hunting and harvesting, they make money or save some money by producing food for the table and reducing health risks.

On the global scale there are many effective and responsible organizations helping to make a greener future. The Forest Stewardship Council promotes international economically and ecologically responsible forestry management. The We can Solve It Campaign, The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, 350.org and The Slow Food Movement are more examples of socially, ecologically and economically responsible movers and shakers on an international scale.

TTD: I have just finished writing to the newly redesigned US Presidential Office of Public Liaison about the potential of organic and local food for supporting economies and mitigating climate change. The office of Public Liason is accepting and using information and suggestions from everyone. Write them a note about how you feel the US should approach these issues in a more holistic way.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, 12 January 2009

Waste Not Want Not

The current practice of burning excess corn and other grains to keep the market prices up, making fuel and making CAFO meat with resources which could otherwise be fed to hungry people is a travesty. Gross misuses and inefficiencies in the food production and transportation systems waste many precious calories that could otherwise be fed to hungry people. Many are calling these systemic problems a crisis of democracy.

On farm and off, being more efficient about how we treat and eat our food can help us with many aspects of the current ecological and economic crises. Why trash it when you can compost it? Why compost it when you can eat it? Somewhere around 20 percent of municipal waste is organic kitchen waste. A lot of what makes it into the bin is edible and with a simple recipe can be made into more tasty food. Breakfast this morning, for example, is bread pudding and tea. The bread was hard as a rock in the back of the bread box - 4 eggs, half a liter of milk, nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon and 20 minutes at 200 degrees we had bread pudding.

We also made a stock for potato leek soup made from the cut off bits of vegetables. The outside leaves of cabbage, the stems of kale, the garlic bits and the rest can all make for a nutritious and delicious soup stock. It feels so much better to put a little boiled mass in the compost rather than all that food, and the worms go nuts over it.

More information and resources: Save Food Stop Waste is an initiative in Australia to get people using food more efficiently. Using Kitchen Scraps is an informative how-to article on Bukisa.

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic



View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday, 11 January 2009

You Gotta Kill to Eat ‽

Way up here in the little mountain village of Andermatt I found myself having a mild argument about our practice in Maine of cooking lobster alive. The World's Finest Lobster Comes From Maine (Maine Lobster Council). I grew up with it and cannot bring myself to think of it as cruel. Many of my family and friends are fisherman and our meager economy is dependent on lobster. Likewise when I hear people grumbling about foie gras I think of the Besse family in Southern France. The Besse family makes the best foie gras you ever tasted (check out Dan Barber's Foie Gras Parable on Ted.com). They hosted me on their little farm for several days and showed me the warmest hospitality I am ever likely to experience. In France as in most other western countries the buyers of agricultural products are so big that it has become impossible for a small farm to survive on anything but a niche market.

The careful issue here that many of us feel uncomfortable admitting is that being alive necessitates death. This is one part of life: Life is suffering (many Buddhists eat animals) Even the tofu and the rice requires killing not only plants, but animals too - those harvesting machines don't pause to let snakes and rodents get clear before they cut, even if it did there would be the insects to consider and all the dispaced species.

The solution for this moral dilemma is to know the life before it is taken. Meet the sheep and the cows, walk in the fields and get out on the water. Get to know the farmer and the fisherman who bring that food to your table and help them by supporting their business. Get to know their practices and lend a hand. In all likelihood when you meet that local farmer, fisherman, hunter or gatherer you will come to enjoy your food more and you will certainly have a better sense of what it takes to keep you alive.

For more information about locally grown food check Out Meet Your Local Farmer from Mother Earth News and Sustainable Table. For information and resources about seafood check out Sustainable Fisheries from MarineBio, Sustainable Fisheries from WWF and Sustainable Seafood from Earth Easy. To meet a local fisherman or Farmer go for a walk, ask around and encourage your neighbors to do the same.




View Cory Whitney's profile on LinkedIn

Cory's Dr Green Blog Posts:
Small is Beautiful
Give Organic a Chance
Beekeeping
No Work Farming
Growing Organic