Eco Maniac: Moving the Green Goal Post

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Eco Maniac: Moving the Green Goal Post

Just when we thought we understood the basics of living an eco-friendly life, the goal post gets moved and we are forced to rethink the changes we've worked so hard to incorporate. I'm no flibbertigibbet; I actually study up on this stuff and yet I'm at a terrible loss as to how to proceed.

Two of the main areas I sincerely thought I had a hold on were food consumption and biofuels. Eat local, organic produce... Reduce petroleum usage.... Just makes sense, right? Not so fast, hot shot. You see, small organic farms will never be able to produce crop yields sufficient to feed the masses. Currently, they account for less than 3% of the U.S. food supply. So, unless everyone plants their own garden and swaps their tomatoes for their neighbor's oranges, we will always need large-scale farms as a piece of the sustainable agriculture pie. (Personally, I love the idea of individual or community gardens coupled with a barter system.)

vertical_farm_day_4501.jpg

The futuristic vertical farm in an urban setting.

But what does that look like? Is it possible to grow food on a large scale using somewhat organic principles? Some farmers say yes, as long as there's some wiggle room. Solutions such as no-till planting can cut way down on soil erosion and, though some herbicide is needed to control the weed growth, the usage amount can be cut way down, too. Closed-loop and multi-year crop rotations, livestock reintegration, seed predators, polyculture and vertical farms — there are lots of ideas floating about, some of them from the Kellogg company.

Food transport is another issue. In theory, buying local is great because of the lower carbon emissions involved. However, the number of trucks involved in coming together for a farmers' market negates the savings, perhaps even flips it on its head. Alternately, major supermarkets get their goods en masse, potentially having lower emissions than the afore-mentioned farmers' market. A 2008 report from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that going meat- and dairy-less just one day a week has a bigger environmental benefit than eating locally all the time.

farmers_market.jpg

Crap! I'm feeling rather whipsawed by the whole thing... Damned if we do, damned if we don't! I even have moments of feeling like we're just way too far behind on our reversal of environmental fortunes to save ourselves so why even bother? Why not just live the gluttonous, destructive life and wait for that little thing we like to call the Rapture to put us out of our misery? Then I remember I don't believe in the Rapture, preferring to go the karma route. And so it is that I'm stuck doing the best I can in an imperfect world. Taking each decision as it comes and making the best, most responsible choice I can make at that moment. I think that's all any of us can do in our lives.

P.S. - We'll get to the biofuels issue next week.



Comments [45]

mysticsmb's picture

And no living to be 125

And no living to be 125 either. What's wrong with a good 80 or 90 and then it's time to move over and make way for the next generation?

Not2Taem's picture

LOL I got ripped off when

LOL
I got ripped off when they were handing out lung department. I kind of like breathing, so I don't smoke anything.

mysticsmb's picture

Yonks, yes your numbers are

Yonks, yes your numbers are indeed correct, so I went digging to see what exactly Moore said in COLUMBINE. He looked at gun ownership, rather than total number of guns. And at that time (2001) slightly less than a quarter (25%) of Americans owned guns, while in Canada it was a couple tenths of a percent higher. The difference, obviously, is that in true American fashion we're not content to own just one gun--no we have to have SEVERAL. So even though the total numbers makes it look like we nearly have one gun per person, in fact only one in four own them. But yeah, that one in four has a huge arsenal--sick.

yonks's picture

i didn't want to sound

i didn't want to sound skunky, i had just learn that since the beginning of the year, in comparison to last year, the numbers of robbery had increase in quebec , so i thought, fortunately, we don't have much firearms and then i thought that you, my friends could have more troubles.
here what i'v found
7.4 million firearms in Canada for 33 million of peoples
222 million firearms in US for 306 million
http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/res-rec/comp-eng.htm

And i'm sorry to be off topic

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

yonks's picture

You don't smoke mmm your a

You don't smoke mmm your a little fast on this affirmation... its suspect.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

yonks's picture

I must had miss it... maybe

I must had miss it... maybe you can repost some time. On your next trip. Wink
And i think its not only puritans but the petrochemical industry
Goddamn petrochemical industry.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Tex's picture

Ann Richards - now that was a

Ann Richards - now that was a woman!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Caramelteddy's picture

Hah! Do I really have a large

Hah! Do I really have a large sloped forehead? *gazes intently in the mirror*

Nah. I think its the big, strong shoulders and firm grip that she likes best. *wink, wink. nudge,nudge*

Rusty's picture

Good question about Illinois.

Good question about Illinois. I grew up in Chicago and remember that Illinois had very strict open container laws. One bottle missing from a 6-pack was an open container violation even if you didn't drink it and the empty wasn't even in the car. I have no idea if they allow growlers.

On the other hand, when I was in the Army, it was legal to drink and drive in Texas. (You just couldn't be drunk.)

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Rusty's picture

I was stationed at Ft. Hood.

I was stationed at Ft. Hood. I also did my graduate work at the University of North Texas in Denton. (Yes, I'm a fan of the Lone Star state and worshiped Ann Richards and Molly Ivins.)

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

LongBeachDogLover's picture

That's awesome..... thanks

That's awesome..... thanks for the link Robin.

Tex's picture

Thanks, I'll check in Austin.

Thanks, I'll check in Austin. Not to get too personal, but where were you stationed in Texas?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Robin Rigby's picture

Kelly, what about CSA

Kelly, what about CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? I read about this recently. Apparently, some farms let you sign up for weekly, biweekly or monthly deliveries of a selected box or basket of food from the farm. Often the farmer will actually setup a drop off point where subscribers stop to pick up their baskets.

Is this a little more eco-friendly than farmer's markets? Here's a link to a site that has more info.
http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

LongBeachDogLover's picture

He looks evil.....what's he

He looks evil.....what's he doing with his left hand ?? Shock

Rusty's picture

I was stationed in Texas when

I was stationed in Texas when I was in the Army and I know how "complicated" the liquor laws are. You'll need to check, but I've heard that some of the smaller brew pubs fill growlers.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Robin Rigby's picture

You beat me to it. By the

You beat me to it. By the beer it's labeled, I suppose you mean the brand, not the brew. So, when I go to Oggi's I can only fill my Oggi's growler and if I want to take the drive to Escondido I'd better have my Stone growler? I did not know that one. I drink my brewpub brews on site typically. Preferably while sitting at the bar having a chat with the beertender.

Robin Rigby's picture

Brewpubs sell their beer in

Brewpubs sell their beer in gallon(?) glass containers called growlers for takeout.

Tex's picture

Do we have growlers in Texas,

Do we have growlers in Texas, Tae?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Lake's picture

Okay, that's cool! Evidently

Okay, that's cool! Evidently we don't have growlers in Illinois or Texas? Uh, Tae?

Lake

Rusty's picture

Growlers are "beer-to-go".

Growlers are "beer-to-go". It's a refillable bottle. You take it in empty and get it filled with beer. The empty bottles don't end up in a landfill or need to be recycled.

States have different laws regarding growlers. California is pretty strict. You can only fill the growler with the beer it's labeled. Here's a 2 liter growler from Stone Brewing (home of Arrogant Bastard Ale).

Environmentally friendly and cheaper than buying a 6 pack:

http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/food/2008/08/22/2008-08-22_drink_be...

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Isn't it silly how some

Isn't it silly how some people can be so irrational. I'm not a fan of illegal drugs, but one has nothing to do with the other.....I think industrial hemp is an awesome product.

I shop at Whole Foods, and they carry an entire line of hemp products........ They are exposing the public to alternatives, and it seems to be having some positive results. It would be awesome if, at some point, other stores follow their lead.

Not2Taem's picture

growlers?

growlers?

Not2Taem's picture

I got a hemp shirt, but it

I got a hemp shirt, but it itched so I mad it into dress for a friend who insists on dressing her pooch in drag.

Kelly McCartney's picture

You're doing pretty well with

You're doing pretty well with that, yes.
Thank you again for your support.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Kelly McCartney's picture

No more babies! And I agree

No more babies!

And I agree that the MoJo article totally bummed me out. (Just you wait until next Monday! Oy.) A rethinking needs to occur on every level about everything. I don't know that the masses are ready for that.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Kelly McCartney's picture

So it's the large, sloped

So it's the large, sloped forehead that Julia loves about you, is it?

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Kelly McCartney's picture

I did a whole post last year

I did a whole post last year on industrial hemp. It's an amazing plant that people are afraid of just because it's in the cannabis family. You can't get high from it, but you can make all sorts of products. Goddamn puritans!

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

Not2Taem's picture

LOL Make paper from cannabis

LOL
Make paper from cannabis and you can roll your pot in pot! Laughing out loud
I don't smoke, but somehow I'm giddy just thinking about it.

Not2Taem's picture

Given your affinity for

Given your affinity for cleavage, I figure you'd just find a few fine, buxom ladies, start your own dairy and live off of Mother's milk. Wink

Not2Taem's picture

I do a lot of container

I do a lot of container gardening, but the folks are in my apartment complex can be real snobs when it comes to having animals around for dinner. Go figure!

:razz:

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Here's where my confusion

Here's where my confusion comes in:

When I was growing up, we grew or raised 90% of our food (oranges and potatoes don't grow well in New England, lol). We even raised the food our animals would need to eat during the winter. We knew about food production, food storage, food preparation (from scratch), etc. As poor as we were, we never went hungry, never got sick from the food we ate, and had more than enough to share with our neighbors.

Why is it that, today, people claim this sort of thing cannot work anymore?

peacekitty's picture

Yes I don't think I could

Yes I don't think I could completely give up meat and dairy either. I eat fish and birds, but I eat no beef or pork.

I love vegetarian food, but I feel so much better when I eat fish and tuna.

I am not on so strict of a diet that if I go to a friends house and they make spaghetti with meat sauce that I'll refuse it, but I never seek out or buy red meat or pork.

I hope I'm helping the environment Kelly. Smile

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

mysticsmb's picture

Kelly, this is exactly how I

Kelly, this is exactly how I felt after reading Michael Pollan's THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA (highly recommended). I was utterly depressed because everything 'good' I thought I was doing still had an overall negative impact on the planet. Finally I had to come 'round to what you say about doing the best you can in an imperfect world. As with this fumbling economy there are no silver bullets. But there are definitely BETTER choices we can make.

I actually think that it's maybe a good thing that we've reached the point where there are no easy solutions--because easy solutions are usually only about thinking short-term. Take plastics, for instance. Short-term answer to a lot of problems that ultimately only has created more long-term problems.

mysticsmb's picture

I too don't think I could

I too don't think I could ever give up meat and dairy entirely. But as Yonks says below it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I've significantly cut back and try to be very mindful when I do eat meat--think about the sacrifice that has been made, honor the life given by eating smaller portions rather than pigging out. Also, I use the cost and availability of humanely raised and killed food as a guide--if I don't feel like paying the extra bucks for animal products then maybe they're not all that necessary after all.

mysticsmb's picture

This may be a first, but I

This may be a first, but I second everything LongBeach just said and said so well. Smile

Rusty's picture

Kelly, please tell me I'm

Kelly, please tell me I'm still on the green side of beer by using growlers and drinking local brew.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Hi Kelly.......... You know

Hi Kelly.......... You know I'm somewhat disturbed by the notion that huge agribusiness is bound to be the only way to feed the worlds population in the future. I read the article in Mother Jones, and I'm feeling quite disillusioned by the authors attitude that this is a done deal.... That we are doomed, why so negative.

I just don't have the same vision for our future. I don't see the worlds food supply as a massive, corporate and scientific manipulation of natures bounty, as the author does.

First, the dialogue needs to shift away from.... how are we going to feed the earths population cheaply, to..... how are we going to begin to educate the worlds population about the negative global effects of overpopulation.... And, how do we assure a healthy, safe, food supply to even the poorest of nations.

Controlling their own food supply would allow, even the poorest nations, to be self sufficient. Sometimes I wonder if this is something that the industrialized nations even want to see. The major corporations, that control the worlds food supply, would lose their monopoly.... and governments couldn't use hunger and food, to control their starving populations. A well fed, healthy population just might protest social injustice, brutal dictatorships, and political corruption...

It seems to me that..... educating the worlds population to the necessity of preserving the earths most precious resource.....it's population of people, is where we must begin. It's truly not so much about food, as overpopulation. With such a strain on all of our natural resources, wars will eventually be fought over food, just as oil. That will not go away, or change, simply because someone says we should grow our food unnaturally in high-rise buildings.

I have always believed in zero population growth. It appears that it may be time to begin re-educating nations as to the reasoning behind it.

mysticsmb's picture

Um...according to Michael

Um...according to Michael Moore in BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, a greater percentage of Canadians own guns than Americans--a little stat most are unaware of because of the lack of gun violence in Canada. But it sounds like you could take care of yourselves if you had to...

Lezbeth's picture

This is off topic, but I

This is off topic, but I agree Yonks, not necessarily about attacking Canada. I think US cities are going to be especially rough. People up here (I live in a rural area) are talking about guns/getting guns because they are afraid of raiding. I have an aversion to guns and wouldn't consider that. If someone came to my door to rob me, I'd invite them in for soup, tell them to look around and take what they want. It's just not that important.

One thing to know, this financial crisis is global. It's hitting here first because the US is the center of the financial services industry. One of the reasons our govt. is trying to prop up the banks is that if other countries loose confidence in the US dollar, not only will the US economy completely implode, but the investments other countries have made will be worthless. We are getting there fast. The announcement last week that the federal reserve is buying up the US debt suggest that foreign investors are no longer paying for us to print more money.

Oh, just so you know, friends of mine who went camping in Canada this summer were robbed--money, passports stolen. It doesn't just happen here.

Tex's picture

Glad your trip was safe and

Glad your trip was safe and uneventful....I'm finally back in TX after numerous delays.

I feel you on this one - we're way too far behind. No only behind, but moving backwards in many categories (bottled water). I've mentioned my days of growing up weekends on my g'rents farm before....I miss it - truly miss it. The vegetables they grew were luscious - why, I can remember eating onions like apples because they were so sweet and delicious - watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, potatoes - left on the vines or in the ground until maturity. The milk and butter were fresh, the meats hanging in the smokehouse, fish from the river, chickens in the yard, eggs from the coop, and water from the well. It was a glorious time even for a youngster, but things like that meant the world to me even then. I wish I had that place to go again.

Reality - if I had that place to go to again it wouldn't do me a bit of good - I have absolutely no green thumb or fingers or toes. I would have to be finding myself a woman with growing attributes, among others....

Glad you're back,

Tex

Twitter Time @kdhales

yonks's picture

You know what? i'm worried

You know what? i'm worried for you guys, if the poverty increase, the crime rates will be increasing too. Wich is the same for everywhere but it doesn't have 200 millions of guns in free circulation everywhere. I'm also worried about all these united-stasians full of guns invade Canada to get water.

You know, its very stress full to have such neighbor.
Wink

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Lezbeth's picture

Welcome back to CA

Welcome back to CA Kelly.

TMI can immobilize me at times. I think many factors play into all of this. Climate change smack dab against financial collapse IMO will constantly change our targets. As the financial industry continues to crumble, locally defined systems of barter may emerge. Perhaps communities will become more agrarian with neighborhood food production hubs creating low impact distribution. Perhaps we will capture rain water (they do it in the Caribbean) and grow things that fit with regional climates or indoor growing strategies.

What's most important to me is intention. New info comes along to change our assumptions. However, doing what we believe mitigates a crisis, even with unanticipated consequences, is a declaration of intention to heal the planet. My beliefs tell me intention is the energy through which human consciousness changes, paradigms shift and new solutions emerge.

yonks's picture

Its not about giving up

Its not about giving up totally meat or dairy but try to eat less. Not at every meal.
personally, i'm so disgusted about industrial breed that i prefer to pay more for biological meat, chickens grow outside but to eat less. its taste better.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Caramelteddy's picture

Sometimes I think we have

Sometimes I think we have just overpopulated this planet way to much for us to be able to truly take care of our environment. We only need large scale farms because there are so many mouths to feed. Large scale production of our food has led to so much eco-bruhaha. What the heck can we do?

I'm with you. Just do the best we can in an imperfect world. But I'm not giving up meat and dairy. I'm a little too neanderthally to stop eating things that don't eat me first.

yonks's picture

Hello Kelly, my best wish to

Hello Kelly, my best wish to your new location

Here in quebec, we have a political party who want to legalize cannabis.

http://www.blocpot.qc.ca/english
Its just too bad, the english version is just a presentation page, you don't have full translation of the whole site.

Not only for pot smokers but they show the ecologic and industrial advantage of its culture.

You can make as much paper with 1 acre of cannabis then tree acres of forest. And its grow in one year.
You can make biodegradable plastic, ethanol, textile.

cannabis is one of the fastest biomass to grow, require no pesticide or fertilizer. Cannabis produce oxygen by photosynthesis and grow almost everywhere so you can use poor soil for its production and keep the best land for food production.

Okay, this is two video, remember to always keep a doubt when you watch video, even if its tell what you want to hear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faU9N4WYETM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOvg2W1XUoU&feature=related

Its not the entire solution but it could help

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-