Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Poem: Clearing

by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Morning Amusement

A George Carlin 1986 classic (even more true today):

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Quote for the Day

“Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.” 
~Alice Waters

Friday, June 26, 2015

Farm Friday

One of my first zinnias
Despite good intentions, I wasn't able to manage posting a "Farm Friday" last week. I has been one of those months, with one thing after another, so I'm including a few things from the last two weeks:

  • Dried plantain leaves in dehydrator - for chickens in the winter and for herbal concoctions
  • Had my faithful SUV in the shop (a first for serious mechanical problems after over 12 years/218,000 miles)
  • Made a big batch of broccoli soup
  • Made beet chips - yummy!
  • Pulled weeds in the winter squash garden - it was perfect right after a good rain because the crab grass came up without a problem
  • Added plants to one of the raised beds - pots of perennials (salad burnet and lovage) and annuals (basil) that I grew from seed
  • Planted in front of the farmhouse the ornamental (and edible) mini-pepper plants that I grew from seed.
  • Started trading with another vendor after the Saturday market ends. We exchange what didn't sell:  She gets fresh veggies for her family; I get fresh bread. This works out great for us - and I hope for her.
  • Had a great Piedmont Sustainable Living gathering. The topic was to share your favorite homesteading/sustainability tool. We had great food and everyone left having learned something new.
  • Cleaned and prepped the farmhouse for guests which led to a cancellation because...
  • Our well at the farmhouse went out and had to be repaired. Turns out the pump was about 30 years old and lasted about 20 years past the typical pump so we can't complain.
  • Connected with a local B&B so that I didn't leave our guests without a place to stay. The inn had a vacancy so I shared the information with them. 
  • The motor on our house A/C burned out and had to be replaced. Going without for a couple of days wasn't that big of a deal as we keep our house at 80 degrees in the summer (but with outside temperatures in the 90s, that feels relatively cool).
  • Summer produce is starting to come in. Right now we have squash and zucchini.
  • I've been invited to be one of the managers at a new farmers' market. We will be rearranging our schedule as a result but I'm excited about the potential of the new venue. A couple of local organizations are supporting it and it will be a chemical-free market - yay! 
  • I spied a new book at the library and, after reading the introduction, know I'm going to love it. It's particularly timely as the "big boys" (i.e. those who have money and power) are whining about how the "organic" farmers (i.e. the small chemical-free farms that are just trying to make a living) in our part of the state aren't playing nice and are sharing information about damaging chemicals in our food and how the food system is broken (life is so unfair to them...):
  • The best news is that I finished our farm cookbook and it's available for purchase on Amazon (I'll be putting out a Kindle version soon). This was started as a winter project and didn't really have a set deadline for finishing it. Since we'll be speaking at an event in July, I pushed forward with it and we'll have copies available a the event. Here's the cover:

Have a great week!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Recycling Problem

The Washington Post reports that the recycling industry is in trouble and in the red. What was once a money-making enterprise is now a money pit. Recycling has become costly for municipalities and other organizations, partly because of the way recycling is done, but also due to rising fuel costs, less demand for the materials, and contaminated batches of recyclables. 

The article points out that making recycling easier and easier has led to more contamination in the system. When people don't have to sort the materials, they're not as careful with what and how they recycle. In addition, well-meaning people throw in things that aren't recyclable with the idea that it's worth giving it a shot since maybe it is - and someone will make that decision down the road.

Even with the type of recycling where it must be sorted, people don't read the signs or are just lazy. In our community, we don't have curbside recycling so the materials must be collected at home and taken to recycling centers that have shipping crate sized receptacles to sort the materials into. The problem is, people don't think. They'll toss newspapers into the paper-recycling bin - in a  plastic bag. Or, if the clear glass bin is full, rather than taking it home or to another facility (which isn't that far away), they toss them into the next bin which is really for brown glass. I guess they think the recycling fairies will sort it all out, never mind that it's pretty obvious that there are separate bins because there are no fairies. Nor do they consider the extra cost involved with having to do the sorting.

Recycling is not the answer - and most Americans don't want to hear that. They want to believe that they can continue to live as they do - shop when they want, buy the latest-greatest-coolest new products - yet still be "green." Tossing items into the recycling bin makes us feel good. We've done something to "save" the environment. And by using the recycling bin, we've removed ourselves from the responsibility of the things we toss in. "We've done our part," is what we think.

Recycling isn't the perfect solution many of us believe it to be. The answer to the problem of diminishing resources and the increasing need for landfills is to reduce our consumption of everything in the first place. After we have reduced our consumption, we need to reuse the items we would normally recycle, such as glass jars. Instead of buying salad dressing, make your own and refrigerate them in repurposed glass jars; instead of buying a new glass container at Target or another big box store, use a glass jar that would otherwise be tossed in the recycling bin.

Despite the problems with the system, we still need to recycle - once we have reduced our consumption. Want to know the best way to recycle? Follow these tips

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wellness Wednesday

Ripe Wheat
Ripe wheat (source)
Recently we had a customer purchase some of our chemical-free produce to help a friend who was battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatment. This person understood that chemical-free food was what the friend needed to regain her health. However, once the food was purchased and the customer was walking away, Bill overheard this same person comment that now that the shopping for the sick person was done, it was time to get the personal shopping done. This person seemed to make no connection between food and illness; that is, it's only important to eat healthy, chemical-free food once you are sick.

The connection between chemicals in your food and cancer isn't new. Back in 2010, President Obama's cancer panel released a report highlighting the importance of eating chemical-free food to avoid cancer. (Read a summary here and the report here.) Yet we regularly meet people who don't make the connection.

Another issue I run up against as a vegetarian is the idea that I don't get enough protein. The inevitable first question upon learning I don't eat meat is "How do you get protein?" According to this article in Forbes Americans eat twice as much protein as they need. Plus, animal protein carries a higher risk of cancer; getting it from plant sources significantly reduces the risk of cancer.

Bottom line if you want to reduce your risk of cancer:  eat chemical-free food that is mainly plant based.

Monday, June 22, 2015