About six months ago, we were all hearing about a few financial firms that were in trouble. Who would have thought the troubles at Goldman Sachs and others would have all the repercussions we’re feeling today?
But if the food situation continues to deteriorate, entire nations will break down at an ever increasing rate. We have entered a new era in geopolitics. In the 20th century the main threat to international security was superpower conflict; today it is failing states.
Like the issues with the big financial firms, many of these challenges are more than we can handle directly as individuals. But it helps to understand the issues so we can pitch in when and where we can. We can help other people understand both the global issues and what it takes to live sustainably:
“Once we start to organize ourselves and innovate within that mind-set, the breakthroughs are extraordinary.”
A brief and thought-provoking article on the potential relationship between a country’s energy consumption and how agrarian it is.
I believe the broad vision of what needs to be done already exists—food that is more local, organic, produced, processed and distributed by renewable energy systems, and using cultivation methods that put the soil health first. Making that argument to those who are reluctant or suspicious, however, could use some better research that connects the dots credibly between energy depletion, climate change, food security, and demographics.
There are no firm conclusions, but some interesting questions to ponder.
I buy most of my seafood from local fishermen and a local shellfish farm. I’ve tried to buy domestic shrimp when possible (due to an allergy to a common preservative in imported shrimp), but this article shows how challenging that is:
Today, if you live more than a hundred miles from the Gulf Coast, the shrimp you eat most likely come from a foreign farm. You can tour these farms while standing at your supermarket seafood freezer and reading labels. The top ten importing countries are Thailand, Indonesia, Ecuador, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, India, Bangladesh, and Guyana.
I’ve been known to use Splenda (an artificial sweetener) in cooking for diabetic friends and those following an Atkins-like diet. Now, research done by a high school student in the 2009 Intel Science Talent Search shows that Splenda isn’t broken down by most water treatment methods and thus raises questions of whether this could accumulate in our lakes and rivers.
But eventually she was allowed to subject sucralose to various treatments, like bacterial digestion, typically used in wastewater treatment plants. She found that sucralose resisted most of these treatments, and was only broken down into biodegradable molecules with extensive time and concentration of titanium oxide and ultraviolet light. Since few plants use these methods, that means almost all the sucralose people eat or drink winds up in the ecosystem.
Soup was one of the first things mom taught me to make — a few aromatics, some stock, tomato juice, and possibly some meat and/or pasta. 40-some years later, it’s a favorite in this household.
When Ambar came home with some kale, suggested by a nutritionist she knows, we sauteed it, we made fritatta, and we made soup. As we get toward the end of winter’s vegetables, we’re still making kale soup.
1 small bunch of kale, chopped (ours comes from the garden here)
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 medium onion diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 large can plum tomatoes, with their juice, chopped
4-6 cups of stock
Seasonings as desired (a little heat, salt and pepper, and some savory herbs.
I used about 4t of Penzeys' Northwoods seasoning)
Put it all in a crock pot and cook on low overnight.
P.S. The sourdough is a continuation of the starter I mentioned a week ago. It’s working much better now!
Here in California, spring is just beginning to peek out through the winter rains. The days are getting longer, it’s easier to get out of bed in the morning, and the local plants are just beginning to flower. Soup replaces stew and the bread rises a bit more quickly.
The more I read about the everyday foods I find in the grocery store, the more I’m surprised. Boston.com interviews Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed, and it turns out even simple “not from concentrate” orange juice is anything but:
In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn’t oxidize. Then it’s put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it’s ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time.