Neighborhood Plant Walk

This morning we wandered the streets of Carbondale to study plants and all their uses. I guess I cannot say, all their uses. There are too many to count. Let’s reword this: some of their uses. We had a full house from the Neighborhood Coop. My daughter was the photographer! As we move through the neighborhood day by day there is enough food, medicine and utility here to take care of thousands. What might you have in your town for the...

A Harvestable Walk about the Neighborhood

Over the next couple of weeks we will go on a journey about the neighborhood, a short walk, a stupendously harvestable walk: food, medicine, utility. Mineral, vegetable, animal, human. All here in abundance. The built environment, the waste stream, water pouring from the highest ridges, rivers of water teeming with possibility, coursing unforgivably down gutters and storm drains, when a simple ditch would do to keep the water where it falls. And the native overstory of this 250 year old settlement, rich in biomass for the taking: acorn, crabapple, mulberry, too much of it, too damn much of it under tire, become macadam, and all it takes is reaching hands, and a tongue to taste the delicate flesh, or bring some home in a basket to dry, jelly, jam, drink. Did not plant them. The birds did. Did not weed around their feet. Where is the work in this, let alone the money? A mulberry is richer than a bank president. Its account is endless, and it will never go bankrupt. So, let us begin at the house. I have to conjecture that this 110 year-old domicile was built with materials garnered from a small radius of the map. Modern transport had yet to become “bonified”. Every home on this street is different. The circa 1900 houses that have survived are unique, singular, have character, no cookie cutter monolithic “design” of later burbs. I wonder at the waste stream of 110 year ago. Where did it all go? What of grids, gas fired stoves, oil fired boilers, and two car garages stuffed with toxic metals, fluids, plastics, emissions? A...

Farmer in Chief By MICHAEL POLLAN

October 12, 2008 New York Times Magazine The Food Issue Dear Mr. President-Elect, It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention. Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that...

We Throw Away Half Our Food

How absurd is this? Enough to post the entire article here. Starvation? Why? “We throw away half our food. Up to half of all food is still wasted due to overly strict sell-by dates and the refusal of supermarkets to sell produce which doesn’t look cosmetically perfect, a new report claims. Up to half of all food wasted due to sell-by dates or ‘wrong’ appearance. Supermarkets often reject entire crops of ‘perfectly edible’ fruit and vegetables because of their appearance. By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent 12:01AM GMT 10 Jan 2013 The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimated that between 30 and 50 per cent of food produced around the globe, or 1.2 to two billion tonnes each year, never reaches a human mouth. Vast quantities of produce from developing countries is lost due to poor storage or inefficient farming, while wasteful behaviour by consumers and supermarkets means half of all food bought in the west is thrown away. As many as 30 per cent of UK vegetable crops are not even harvested because they do not meet retailers’ stringent demands on appearance, which are based on what customers will accept. Supermarkets often reject entire crops of “perfectly edible” fruit and vegetables at farms because they have the wrong size or appearance, and are guilty of encouraging consumers to buy more than they can eat with promotions on perishable items, the report said. Use-by dates can also cause more waste because retailers use conservative estimates to avoid the threat of legal action, thereby encouraging customers to throw perfectly good food away before it has gone bad, it was claimed. Related Articles...

The City that Ended Hunger

“To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer.” (CITY OF BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL) Half of the human population around the world now lives in cities with more and more people becoming urbanized every day. As cities become the dominant land- and people-scape how will folks be fed? Here is an example of how this can be...