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Green eating!

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, May 22, 2006.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I received the copy of the old book I mentioned, the Energy Primer (Richard Merrill, Thomas Gage) and sure enough it is one of the most complete texts that I have seen on the relationship of Energy and Us. Wind, water, wood, solar, agriculture, alcohol - they are all covered....and, this was in the late 70's, with most subjects STILL looking pretty up to date.

    One of the interesting facts is our relationship with food. Not everyone can chop wood behind their house or afford $4,000 solar panels or a new hybrid - but it turns out that Food is responsible for 12-15% of our energy use! More importantly, if we ate different foods, those numbers could be cut in 1/3 or more. Surely a way that everyone can help the energy situation.

    The book explains that we actually eat only the equiv of 30 gallons of fuel each a year (in calories), BUT to produce this food cost about 10X as much. That is because we waste most of our food energy.

    Take a look at the enclosed charts - notice the amount of protein or energy required to produce various foodstuffs. Eating American beef is the equiv. of turning in your 20 dollar bills for a one dollar bill - a pretty bad payback!

    This book was really the main impetus for my entering the energy business in the late 70's. It is rare to find a text that puts it all together and shows the science behind each renewable energy subject.

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  2. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    But cows are good. This is blasphemy, next thing you know you'll be trying to tell me we should have signed the Kyoto treaty and that there is global warming. :)
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Yeah but they didn't burn a thousand gallons of diesel running around on the ocean to catch that cow. I will burn little squiggly light bullbs and whack my own wood but I ain't giving up my steaks.

    In fact that chart made me hungry. Heading out for burgers.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Hey Bart keep it clean, this is a family network. :)
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Fish are we talking about the mercury poisoned ones like sord fish?

    Lets see a pole some lurers
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A recent news item pointing out that the cost of food is going to rise along with everything else tied to fossil fuels, gave me all the incentive I needed to get my butt in gear and put this season's garden in. Obviously, I wish we could eat wood, but I am looking forward to fresh, organic produce this summer.
  7. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    For me, the dangers of modern factory farming may outweigh the dangers associated with excess energy consumption to produce our food. I read this book many years ago and it scared the hell out of me. I went vegetarian, but it lasted for less than a year. I was always swimming upstream in Texas cattle country. Even my veggie plates at the local cafeteria were spiked with ham and meat drippings. I guess I'm addicted to meat, I do love a good burger, but I will never be the same after reading this book. I eat less meat, though. I figure eating less is better than more. I seem to be surrounded by beef eaters in my life, where ever I go, even on the home front. I'd kick the stuff with a little live-in cooperation, but being vegetarian is a real conviction no matter how you look at it.

    If I remember correctly, the author guy won a Pullitzer for his writing, maybe for this very book. He is certainly left of center, but the book contains a lot of information regarding how our food it produced, how that production has changed radically from just a generation ago, and why it might not be such a great thing for us.

    BTW: the author is the son of famed Robbins of Baskin and Robbins, the ice cream partner moguls. Both died of heart disease, presumably from eating too much ice cream. ;)

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0915811812/103-5421658-6044601?v=glance&n=283155
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Mo Heat said:
    BTW: the author is the son of famed Robbins of Baskin and Robbins, the ice cream partner moguls. Both died of heart disease, presumably from eating too much ice cream. ;)
    ----------------
    Yeah, and I think both of the last two McDonalds CEO's died of heart disease - relatively young!

    I'm sure a lot of people have seen "supersize me" or whatever that movie is called. The guy seriously almost died from eating just mickey D food for a month!

    I've been vegie since I was 16, so it is no effort at all for me to eat grains - although I was brought up on the finest meats (my parents went to a butcher, not the supermarket). Lamb, Filet and Prime Ribs were my favs!

    Just like anything else, we don't all have to burn 14 cords and haul it with pasture-fed horses. But eating some rice along with that (hopefully imported) beef would move a person way down on the scale. East Asians eat whatever meat and fish they can get, but lots of rice, noodles and veggies with it.

    It's also quite muddled today, because veggies trucked in from the other side of the country are probably equal in energy to chicken from your neighbors farm (although most chicken does not come from local).

    The idea here is that supporting farmers that are relatively local does save a lot of energy. Some foods take as many pounds of oil to get to market as the food itself weighs! That's just for transportation - not for growing!

    Sort of like Pellets and Firewood...the closer the better!

    Talk about eating cheap....you can buy a 50 lb bag of rice, some dried pinto beans and be eating good meals (cut up some onions into those pintos) for less than a buck.

    My favorite foods are pizza, popcorn, peanuts, pancakes and bagels.....cherries and cheese are good too!
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    One disturbing trend has been the escalating loss of farmland to development. About 6 years ago we started contributing regularly to our food coop's regional sustainable farming program. What they do is purchase prime farmland that is threatened to be permanently lost to development and put it into trust. The coop leases the farmland back to selected farmers that agree to grow/produce organically.

    Our coop has grown quite large now (eight full sized stores) and provides a ready market for all the farms can produce. The produce is reasonably priced and great quality. (Better carrots than I can grow lately.) This year they've added organic poultry and we now have a group of Hmong farmers (great Asian goodies). It's a good program and I think it will be an important source of sustainability as fuel and fertilizer costs continue to escalate.

    http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/issues/farmland.html
  10. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Carp?
    Who eats Carp?
    Hilltop has bargains and I aint giving up my Beef.............. its whats for dinner

    Elk, Swordfish got a bad rap because some that were caught of Mexico were tested and they had very high Mercury.
    Key with all large pelagics (Tuna, Sword, Shark) is to cut out the red meat and about 1/4" near the skin, that is where the Mercury will be in the highest concentrations (as well as the internal organs)
  11. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    So maybe hunting isnt so bad after all. its close to home, you process your own meat, and you cut out the middle man. Me personaly, i cant hunt, i have a hard time shooting things. But on the flip side, it takes gas to get you to the hunting spot, it takes some sort of fuel to make cartridges, wood to make the stocks, and who knows how much fuel to run the forge or whatever they make the metal with. No such thing as a free "green" lunch.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That was supposed to be crap, not carp. Dyslexic typo :).
  13. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I have moderated my eating habits. A lot more chicken, pasta, and fish once a week. I like sord fish, if a decent sale I stock up
    Stripers not bad either. I also will eat trout but I am very picky as to where I catch them for eating. I stopped hunting but if Bambi and his friends ruin my garden again, I just might reduce the population. With a Parker 10 gage double barell, one does not have to be the most accurate shooter. I also like salads so I eat vegie and salads. Craig does beer counts as for getting grains. Hops barley. I'll drink to that . Beer and pizza nothing wrong with that? To save more money what about home brew? Does wine count towards the fruit requirement? At least that's what my wife tells me.

    I still have a few weak moments Chocolate chip cookies brownies. And man I still can eat a good grilled burger. but not everyday of the week. My wife is on this health kick she calls it eating healthier. Since she make most of the meals, I eat what's in front of me.
    Excersize believe it or not I get all excersize I need working. Today I hand dug footings. Craig you soon will know the energy involved digging footings.
  14. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Homebrewing saves a little and if you buy your grains in bulk....... and brew all grain beer it can be cheaper but by the time you factor in the associated cost it is about the same price as a case of Sam Adams.
    I miss it and once I get caught up on painting the house and getting my basement in order I will re-start my brewing hobby in the fall. I had Brown Ale down to a science and IPA is my next beer style to perfect.
    Hunting may be greener but it isnt any cheaper, just another hobby with positive benefits.

    How big are your gardens?????
    Doesnt get any greener than that.

    UGH Footings
    I cant pound a steel fence post without hitting granite.
  15. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I have Hops growing in my garden! It's the only thing I haven't killed yet. I've tried a garden every year. So far I managed 1, 0.5 inch carrot.
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My garden is about 25x25. It's a raised bed, organic setup. We have good soil around here, but it's heavy to clay. A couple years of turning compost into the garden have resulted in really nice, loose, well drained soil, however.

    Like Craig, I haven't eaten meat for about 30 years, but it wouldn't bother me to kill and eat the deer that jump the fence. They have absolutely no sense of human decency. I'd blast 'em in a minute if I thought I could get away with it. Craig's right about the rice: go to any Chinese or Vietnamese grocery and you can score a 50-pound bag of jasmine rice for about $12. It took a couple of decades, but I finally acquired a taste for tofu.

    And yes, beer is good for you.
  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I have very rocky soil, It has taken years at working the soil to get a decent yield out of the garden
    We have no problem growing beans and tomatoes and squashes Area size about 24/24, The past years we had to make a
    choices showers laundry or water the garden. My well was not producing enough water. This is the first year I have the water.
    Aught to have $11,500 worth for the new well. But yeilding better than 6 gpms 740 ft down. We had rain barrels to capture water it helped but not enough. I wish I had an area big enough to grow corn but corn also depletes the nutrients
    Carrots I had some sucess bit not overwellimg sucess. Its too late for peas now. I have strawberies but I have to fight off the birds from eating them. Very hard to do when my wife has feeders all over the place. Last year a black bear ruined a gardens down the street. Hopefully my friendly expired grownhog has no buddies left to ravage my garden. I found his holes smoked bomded them to no avail. Chased him in and rolled a quarter stick down there that slowed him down a few days but he came back I tried the have a heart trap zilch. I tried everything to discourage him. Man was he bold. He would sit up on his hind legs mulching away and just look at me. I waited for a time when my wife was not home and capped him. he became fertilizer
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Good for you, elk. Critters messing with my food supply tends to bring out the predator in me.

    Dump a load of sand into the spot where you want to grow the carrots and they should do better.

    I put screened sawdust between the raised beds. That's not only a good way to dispose of most of the mess if you cut log-lengths in your yard, but it makes a nice surface to walk on in bare feet and it helps retain moisture in the garden. It looks nice, too. As you add compost to the beds and sadust to the walkways every year, your garden gains elevation. After a few years, that four-foot fence starts to act more like a three-footer.
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Deer just walked over my 3 footer in NJ - luckily there are less deer up here, so we are trying our new small garden with no fence. In NJ, I wired little cedar 1x2's to the fenceposts and then strung a few rounds of aluminum electric fence wire (cheap) - never had to electrify it, the deer saw it and seemed to stop incursions.

    At least here I have some soil and some sun. In NJ, I was in the shade and my soil (in NJ Pinelands) was pure beach sand....pretty good for blueberries and tomatos, but that is about it without a lot of manure added. Actually, south jersey has some of the best truck farms in the east - BUT, the soil has been built up over 100 years or more - makes a big difference.
  20. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    It took us a few years to get the garden right and after alot of sweat and some blood our garden is rich black dirt down about 10 inches.
    I have rock piles all over the place and am starting to build rock walls around areas of the garden.
    We added cow manure and peat moss every year for the first three years and I still add peat moss (with lime too) when it gets rototilled.
    The wife had a co-worker who had a friend with a rototiller a few years back and I reluctantly went to look at it, glad I did we picked up a mint Husqvarna rototiller for a song 5 years ago, man does that save time.

    Tomatoes and hot peppers for salsa and then Collard greens, Swiss chard, cukes that grow up a 45 angled fence.
    Pumpkins, peas, Watermelon (small ones do very well in Mass.) Spinach, Mesclun lettuce and Broccoli too.
    A bonus of having chickens is when I clean the coop out every year I put all the wood shavings and poop under the tomatoes as mulch, they love it and it gives me a place to put the waste.
    There hasnt been much we didnt try at least once.

    We have fruit trees and by far the ones that have done the best are the Asian Pear trees we planted a few years ago, they must love this climate.
    An Asparagus bed is in the works for next year.

    If any of you dont own one go get one now, a Scuffle Hoe (stirrup hoe) they work great.

    I havent had an issue with deer, I think they know what the consequences would be seeing how I have had at least one hanging from the meatpole since I moved in :)
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We're no strangers to vermin here. Deer = tall rats and we've got plenty of them. They're not shy either. We've had them mow down the flowers in the flower boxes next to the house on the patio. Both gardens have an 8 foot fence around them. Racoons are now becoming a menace. Last year they attacked neighbors plum tree, 7 at once. If they couldn't reach a plum they broke the limb and got the goodies on the ground. They nearly killed one of our plum trees. The varmits also cleaned about 2 bushels overnight off of our prime apple. This year, they'll find a trap waiting for them. Birds would get our strawberries too, so we keep netting over them. Last year I had to put netting over the entire upper garden to protect blueberries, currants and raspberries. Hopefully this year will be more peaceful. So far it's looking good.
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Building good, organic garden soil is a lot of work spanning several years or more, but it's pretty satisfying. Aside from the compost, about the only fertilizer I use is worm casting tea, which contains just about everything the plants need. All our kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves and weeds go into the compost bins. You can make good compost in a couple of months if you are dilligent about turning the pile, but if you get ahead of the game and you have a big enough supply of compostible organic material on the ground, time will do the work for you. More time for splitting wood.
  23. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I've tried gardening a plot a few times: peas, onions, radishes, zuccini, lettuce (got a few leaves for maybe two salads), tomatoes (in 9 pots this year and not doing so well), and a few other easy veggies. Here we are limited to the flower boxes I'm supposed to be rebuilding with stone. That's the only place out back with barely enough sun to grow anything. Need to rehandle my shovel and get out there. Kind of late I guess, but still time for radishes, zucs, and onions.

    The weirdest thing I ever tried was growing carrots. N. Cal. Bay area, garden surrounded by birch trees, abandoned playground with sandy soil I'd built up over a couple years. Lots of stuff did pretty well, but the carrots just barely grew. I even had a little dwarf naval orange tree (and an avocado tree that never did much). Mrs. Mo Heat said the oranges were the best she'd ever eaten in her life. All five or six of them. But I watched the carrots closely (big curiosity), pulled one this month and that, a little bigger, a little bigger, never big enough, end of season, winter... I gave up. The next year I went out and started turning things over with a shovel. Low and behold, I had some carrots. Weird looking, contorted, deformed, looked kind of like gensing root. I pulled them up (about 10 of them), cleaned one, tasted it, mmmmm. 10 fine carrots, but ugly as hell.
  24. Nokoni

    Nokoni New Member

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    Laughed at the idea of you eating wood for a good long time.

    Eating any meat you buy from a store is terrible for the environment and you and the animals. Factory farms are hideous places. I'm a vegan so I don't have to worry about any of that crap in my body or participating in factory farming. The not getting enough protien issue is a myth. That is if you use your brain. I'd personally rather see an animal like a deer out living his deer life and get shot by a hunter and then eaten and hopefully the hunter has some reverence for the life of the deer. The Indians had it right (well, most of them). Use what you need but have some respect for what you use. People are so removed from what they do. I think that's why I love this forum and burning wood. You are connected to each piece of wood you gather. Not some numb mind who just flips a switch.
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