Always can rely on the BBC…

to provide us with a pigeon-holed approach to any global crisis…

Obese blamed for the world’s ills

Overweight man

The world’s obese population is rising

Obese people are contributing to the world food crisis and climate change, experts say.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the obese consume 18% more calories than average.

They are also responsible for using more fuel, which has an environmental impact and drives up food prices as transport and agriculture both use oil.

The result is that the poor struggle to afford food and greenhouse gas emissions rise, the Lancet reported (continue…)

I can’t even conceive of the thought process that would put together that article. I mean, how can we still be putting so much blame on demographics? If “first world” countries lost weight, that would still not be enough of a carbon output reduction to make up for the damage done by the oil-dependent infrastructure. Another fault of the article is that it approaches the issue from such a narrow point of view — ex: picking the chicken over the egg. Obesity and consumption are caught up in a self-perpetuating cycle. You cannot address one part of the equation without taking into account all the other factors that have influenced the circumstance. Sigh. Off to work.

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Filed under Dye-jest-shun, Eco-no-me

Flowers for your Mama

may 2008

 

In collaboration with the Woodbine Garden, we are having a “Mother’s Day Plant Sale” all week out here in Bushwick. If anyone is in the area, feel free to stop by. I will be in/around the Secret Garden tomorrow afternoon and/or Thursday during the day.

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Filed under A-growth, Brooklyn, The Secret Garden

The Solution is not: “Business as usual”

The following news media clip offers agro-industries the option of chopping down miles of serene boreal ecosystems to support the rising global demand for food production. Having ridden a train across Siberia some years ago, I can say that what I saw was more development than I expected, though I was comforted by the fact that beyond the factories along the railroad, there was vast unspoiled wilderness. This news source promotes destroying more of our land’s precious resources for our selfish (“business as usual”) needs and that really disturbs me:

Among the many things wrong with this idea:

  • the Siberian climate would only support the production of certain seasonal crops and is unlikely to sustainably meet the demand for food in this global economy — most of our food is grown in the tropics where most people live, but is then shipped north, where less people, but more money lives. Using the Russian land for large-scale agro-industry will not solve the problem year-round — it would just create a surplus in seasonal food over the summer, while we would still be facing the same crisis over the winter
  • “Ok, well the guy specifically mentioned the possibility of Russia becoming one of the largest grain, poultry and dairy exporters — those industries are better suited for northern climates anyway, right?” — Right. But we are forgetting that when a nation’s economy expands their animal products sector, that requires more land to grow food for the poultry and cows they raise, which halves the efficiency of the system and increases the cost (both on the people and the land)
  • There is more than enough land devoted to growing food already — it is the rules surrounding distribution of land rights and crop yields from which stems the poverty.
  • The food grown in Russia would go to waste once it becomes more expensive to access/transport it due to the price of oil!

The only answer to feeding a specific society is local self-sufficiency. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years before this era of hyper-globalization. Now that we’ve got some “civilizational street cred” and industrious technologies, it’s time we  bring these concepts back to the Earth and a possible abundance of food into the bellies of our children.

Let the regeneration begin!

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Sustainable Solutions at the Root of our values

Starting and sustaining schools that work

I just started volunteering at the Brooklyn Free School to help them beautify their outdoor yard space. I was lead there by Paolo, John and Andrew in different ways. I have been wanting to feel what it was like to be in a learning/living environment that was absolutely free and truly democratic. Even after just spending two days there, I have started to feel like a better teacher because it allows me to approach the same task at a public institution later that day with confidence in these free methods. I realize how much good teaching relies on creating the right kind of relationships for true learning to occur. There is no denying that children are naturally curious, so it is important to be patient and catch their curiosity at the right time. BFS certainly feels like a place that will help me understand the role as a teacher in a socially organic environment.

I am currently borrowing “How to Grow a School: starting and sustaining schools that work” by Chris Mercogliano. The first part of the book is like a historical review and essay, while the last part is mostly interviews. I like the way it is written so far (only 50 pages in) and I believe it is a perfect introductory text to informal education. Also, the joint allegory with the school and the garden strikes a particular chord with me: whether it be my personal vision of the perfect school or reference back to Froebel’s kinder garten.

Later that day, at Xposure, I let the children set up their own talk show about a current event. We decided the current event would be “Why is food getting more expensive?” then I handed them a camera and watched this unfold…

The kids inched closer and closer towards figuring out very complex ideas presented by just a few internet resources by freely talking about it amongst themselves. In this case, the motivation that anchored their discussion was that one student was holding the camera and recording the others.

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Filed under Come-unity, Eco-no-me, Edge-you-kay-shun

What of this “fertility”?

Shortages Threaten Farmers’ Key Tool: Fertilizer 

By KEITH BRADSHER and ANDREW MARTIN

Published: April 30, 2008
Population growth, shrinking world grain stocks and a growing appetite for meat, particularly in the developing world, has collided with a shortage of fertilizer.
(Read article…)

…a shortage of fertilizer?! Now the global food markets are telling us there’s not enough shit floating around to nourish the crops?! Oh, sorry. I guess this applies to the type of nitrogen fertilizers they use in agro-industries. Yeah, the kind that produces a toxic run-off for our delta ecosystems to enjoy. Rather than asking ourselves Why are Nitrogen Fertilizer prices so high?”  we should be asking “Why are we using substances that pollute our lakes and rivers to nourish our food?” ….

This parallels my feelings towards on the soaring cost of water that is also contributing to rise in food prices.  If a farmer were to have any sustainable forethought, s/he would build their facility’s infrastructure around the ability to harvest one’s own water from a source that doesn’t charge much: the sky…

So hopefully, you can see why I find this to be a silly predicament about the fertilizer. Think about the vast amount of resources that are poured into processed fertilizers. Cannot these big business farmers conceptualize the fact that they could very easily harvest their own fertilizer using their community’s tonnes of food waste? Maybe someone out there with the right connections should get us started with a large-scale composting infrastructure that can guarantee an output of fertilizer to control the food prices. That’s a great idea for a green business, but now I just wish I were Bloomberg or somebody so I could put my money there.

The only thing I can do within my power is just point fingers at over-commodification and highlight its legacy of inefficiency and unreliability. Gah, there is SO MUCH work to do.

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Filed under A-growth, Eco-no-me, Komm-post, Sustain-a-city

Wake up (and smell the flowers)

I managed to capture this on video on my way to work today. I like it because it was spontaneous and at first you can’t tell you are in a city, then the clues start seeping in…

This was taken on the corner of Bushwick and Gates (where I live).

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Filed under Brooklyn, Sustain-a-city

Pick of the Green-wash

One very comprehensive way to think about degrees of ecological self-sufficiency is this “three shades of green” system introduced to me by my friend Adam Brock. The green cred of a car company would be the “lite” shade of green. And I like to think about it as a gradient towards an ultra-balanced forest green — a permaculture homestead would be a good example. Moving on…

Out of my window, plastered on the side of the bus, I see an advert for this company and think to myself, “What a splendid idea!” — Being a constant dreamer for a better world, I bear a slight tendency to trust the “Save Money. Save Time. Save the Planet.” slogans pasted all over these ads. Alas, to my disappointment, it was nothing more than the standard greenwash. The give-away was their location: a giant warehouse in Gowanus where organic produce is trucked into the city, sorted into cardboard boxes, then trucked back out to the communities they came from. Suddenly, this utopian advert for “Urban Organic” was nothing more but a false promise, collaborating with the “enemy”…

Here, I found a great visual representation of the types of food systems we should watch out for when planning for sustainability.

The industrial cup of tea…

how stuff works

One of my favorite web-pieces about current challenges is “Story of Stuff” with Annie Leonard.

The permaculture cup of tea…

how stuff works

And if you’ve still got Wild Green Yonder in an open tab on your browser, check out his entry about City farming.

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Filed under A-growth, Eco-no-me, Sustain-a-city, Uncategorized