Sunday, January 29, 2012
Everyone's A Critic
I stopped by our relatively small, local library the other day and was slightly surprised to see this book on the shelves, so I promptly snatched it up. I had been wanting to read it for some time and was delighted to see they had the book. Actually, our library, though small, has a pretty darn good variety and selection of books, especially on gardening, homesteading and such. So. What did I think of the book? If you are at all interested in gardening, homesteading, permaculture and/ or our environment I would highly recommend the book. It's a delight to read and even though the facts presented are quite sobering you don't get the feeling you're being flogged about the head and shoulders. The parts about the turkeys alone are hysterical but it also provides a generous amount of meat to chew on for days (pun only slightly intended). For instance, one passage states:
So, it got me to thinking....what activity can we, as concerned people, do that makes the most difference to the health of our world and ourselves? Now of course, you want to participate in more than one but I hear people going on all the time about if you really want to save the earth we must all be on solar power, electric cars and yada, yada, yada. I know a number of people who live off-grid, non-consumer based lives but yet, don't grow a large percentage of their food. This gives me pause. I'm not saying they are buying all their stuff from California or Mexico but it has really made me think lately. Especially down here in the south where we have such a long growing season. Now, I hope to one day be off grid or at least produce some of my own power and this is a fine goal. But it costs a lot of money at first. I know a lot of people that drive electric cars or hybrids but they still must use power generated by conventional means. Most of the off grid people I know are not the ones with the electric cars. Both can be pricey so I guess you sometimes have to choose. Anyway. I know tons of people, places that recycle, reuse and all that and that's wonderful. But what is the number one action we can take that makes the most difference per person? I think it's to grow or source locally, a very high percentage of your own food. We must eat and often several times a day. If everything you put in your mouth (food that is) has been shipped hundreds of miles, what does that all add up to? It's freakin' crazy to me when I finally started thinking about it.
Now, I realize not everyone has the amount of land I have or even lives in a house. Millions live in apartments and such but for those of us who do have the room it seems a no-brainer to me and it's something that will have a major impact for relatively little start up costs, as opposed to say, going off grid. And yes, of course, nobody can produce everything they need and I'm not saying we should. I have no problem with importing a few things. Humans have traded spices and foods since the beginning. Make a little money for you, I get a treat I can't make myself...But for us to grow tomatoes down the road and ship them to Wisconsin while we turn around and import ours from California?? Wha???
Since reading this book I decided to challenge myself to find local products to supply what I can't grow or make myself and I have been pleasantly surprised by what I've found. Alabama makes a lot of stuff!! I actually found an organic diary! Well, two actually. One is in south Alabama and too far to drive but they sell their products in Birmingham ,where I go frequently. And yes, it is shipped in but 150 miles is a helluva lot better than 600. And I know their milk is from their cows and their cows only, not cows from Texas and Canada and God only knows where else. The other diary is much closer, well within driving distance for me, but it has actually been easier to get this other milk for now, as I was already in Birmingham. It is a bit more expensive but with all the money I save growing my own food, and not buying junk, I have plenty of money to buy the milk. Plus, I can take a gallon and make my own yogurt and maybe even some cheese as I don't keep a lot of milk for just drinking. The photo above shows just a few things I already had that is produced locally or in our state. We make lots of honey and various syrups. Of course we produce cornmeal and grits! And only the white cornmeal; southerners know better than to use that yellow crap. My sister knows a man that grows wheat and corn for grinding on a commercial scale and our state even grows rice! Not a tremendous amount but some. I am very fortunate to live in a county that produces tons of fruit. Apples, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, melons, pecans (yeah, that's a nut), blackberries and much, much more. Yes, I hope to grow much of this myself one day but for now I can get it within just a few miles. As I mentioned in the beginning, we want to go solar soon too but until then, I think I'm going to put much more effort into producing my own food or sourcing it locally. I was meaning to anyway, but this gives me a lot more motivation. Oh yeah!! and to this end...I'm going to start growing my own tea! Annie's Tea Plantation! Lots of people say, what??? the tea plant is Camillia Sinesis; it's in the camellia family! Our state flower!! lol! DUH on me! I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner!
So what do ya'll think? What do you think is one activity that really makes the most difference to us and our environment?