I had not intended to blog today but yesterdays proroguing of parliament along with the other issues like thwarting committee work, being in contempt of parliament for withholding documents, outright lying and of course the systematic and deliberate sabotaging of climate change talks brings me to these questions I’ve been refusing to ask greater blogdom because I’m afraid of where the answer lies.
When the will of the people is no longer relevant and the democratic system has for all intensive purposes failed what do we have left?
When citizens, soldiers, courts, traditions, parliamentary will, election watchdogs, international law, democracy and national image are no longer valued or respected by the very government charged with defending them how can we not surmise we’ve become a failed state?
When the government continues to act against our needs and desires by heaping on debt, embracing war, sabotaging international negotiations on climate change, pandering to corporate interest and ignoring health and environmental issues over tar sands and asbestos and many others too numerous to list how can you not expect civil disobedience and radical action to grow?
We’ve all seen how failed or unstable democracies either breed contempt, lawlessness and violent action from their citizenry or outright oppression of their citizenry; which path are we on?
What options do we have now? Is this enough to scare the opposition parties into a concrete agreement/collation/accommodation to squash this bastard?Recommend this Post
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Unlike last year before the crash there’s been little talk about food shortages in 2009 but it's my belief that this will change by spring/early summer 2010.
There have been a series of crop failures world wide with China, Australia, and Argentina all suffering long term droughts which have severely damaged grain production. India not only had a poor monsoon season but also heavy winds and rain damaging crops in their other growing season. All these problems could cause food issues during any normal year but it would also appear that the USDA has been cooking the books on crop yields to keep prices in check; a great ploy when you know it’s only going to be a short term blip but in this case it could be the fraud before the famine.
This article from Marketsceptics.com shows that 2009 USDA corn and soy predictions (in most cases) not only went up from earlier in the year but are also above the 5 year average making it look like a bumper year, so what’s the problem? Well it seems that the USDA is ignoring its own data on counties that have been declared Natural disaster areas,(areas suffering 30% or higher crop damage). In fact the in the 30 days before the article was written a staggering 274 counties were added to the list. An additional 66 counties were added on Christmas Eve, I guess they figured people would be too busy to notice.
Some areas just barely qualify for the 30% damage criteria but other counties are virtualy destroyed, making the USDA predictions that much more suspect.
Despite all these declared emergencies there have been no modifications to the already overly optimistic crop estimates. Come next spring it will become obvious that these predictions were bogus when shortages in corn and soy will begin to hit the markets. There is also potential for shortages in wheat, rice, and other grains due to both the U.S. and foreign disasters driving food inflation through the roof. As we saw in 2008, food shortages will lead to higher prices, a rush to hoard, the banning of exports which lead to more local shortages and last but certainly not least civil unrest.
Read the whole article and judge for yourself if there are reasons to worry, but other people such as the National Inflation Association is also predicting food shortages and high prices plus I’ve been telling you that we’ve been one bad crop away from problems for several years.
This is just another wake up call for the move towards localization and food self sufficiency, get involved in a local food movement, a transition town group, Food Not Lawns; Something! Also don't forget that next years food shortages will inevitably turn into 2011’s retail seed shortage. I would suggest buying one the several garden kit packages being offered that give you a wide selection of seeds packaged for long term storage. Some of these companies offer both northern and southern garden kits giving you the varieties more suited for your climate. I think the best deals out there are these collections from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds
I wish these guys had an associate program I’d love to join.
These seeds can be stored and will maintain their viability for years to come giving you the opportunity to either save money now gardening or prepare for your future food security. Learn to save seeds from each years crop and the benefit will be perpetual. Don’t leave it until too late, one of the companies I’ve listed before and purchase some of my own survival seeds from a few years ago increased their sales volumes by several times and ran out of seed last season. Many people see this trend and are acting.
If you don’t know how to grow your own food I’d recommend this book on gardening small spaces and this one on Seed saving
Food shortages are inevitable as we move along the peak oil path but are not solely dependant on peak oil. We can and will face shortages in the near future and we need to adapt now because the end of cheap oil will only make them that much worse in the coming decade.Recommend this Post
Saturday, December 19, 2009
In a grand gesture in Copenhagen the U.S. promised to back a fund that would by 2020, supply $100 billion dollars a year in aid for developing countries so they can adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change. Sounds good no?
Well, of course the devil is in the details, the EU had already suggested a fund of 100 billion Euros making the U.S. plan 40% less, that sucks
The plan calls for $100 billion a year by 2020. So speak up Hillary, how much is the U.S. putting in and how much does it expect other, imaginary donors to cough up?
$100 Billion a year is a goodly amount but this is the goal for 10 years down the road, how much is slated for use as Jan1 2010? Is there any money yet?
The statement that the money is for mitigation and adaption is a message to all that we are not going to even try to stop climate change, simply slow down the inevitable die off, or more likely funnel money to compliant governments so they can oppress their own people, and keep resources flowing to the west while the developing world starves, fry's or drowns
Who are these mysterious benefactors who will fund this venture. Canada, hell no!. Our government does not care for the planet, our international image, or the various brown peoples destined to suffer most.
Greece, not likely they are on the verge of civil unrest over internal debt, poor credit, EU demands to commit to austerity plans
Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, UK, U.S are all suffering under huge government debts, low gov revenue, and for all but Japan real unemployment in the mid to high teens.
So who is funding this and when if ever will this fund actually get to it's promised $100 billion/year
It's obvious there is no plan on who, how and when , but lets say they do get off their asses and write the cheques; how will this money be used?
My bets include giant hydro dams and irrigation systems. These kinds of projects are rife with corruption, padding and opportunities to reward the usual corporate suspects who feed on the teats of government. Expect billions more of untendered poorly planned projects to be just dropped in Halliburton's lap.
Expect straight handouts to dictators to maintain order and resource deliveries to the west, or at least buy a new palace and Limo
Billions funneled to Monsanto to create new crops that require a great deal of fertilizer, pesticide, unavailable water and will be far beyond the means of the average subsistence farmer to afford.
Solar power plants built in North Africa, of course none of this power will be used to improve the lives of Africans rather it will be sent under the Med so that Europeans will not have to cut back.
I bet a whole bunch of money will be used to bribe poor country A to absorb refugees from poor country B as sea levels displace more people.
What obvious fiascos do you see for this money?
How should this money be used? (if it ever shows up)
First and foremost because of the time lag involved money must be used to promote the preservation of existing forests and jungles while starting massive tree nurseries to begin reforesting the developing world.
Money to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of wood and charcoal for cooking over an open fire. These are not new technologies and for a couple of bucks a person can build or buy a rocket stove or some other form efficient wood stove. A billion dollars could, using local materials and skills take 200 million families from open fires to rocket stoves that use 50%+ less fuel.. Other efficient stoves the the Jiko stove showcased on the BBC World Challenge this year can also lower fuel use by 50% or more and only cost $2-3. Create Solar Oven factories and those people in uber sunny climates can all but eliminate their need for tree fuel, add forestry projects we can move towards net increase in forest cover which will both mitigate local temperature increases, sequester Carbon, supply food and protect habitat and biodiversity.
Spend money to identify, breed and disperse local, open pollinated, drought and heat resistant seeds getting developing world farmers out of the Monsanto debt and reliance trap.
Livestock dido, parts of the developing world have bought into N.A. genetics and now have cattle and sheep that need insane amounts of water to live or produce milk, these breeds will not thrive in warmer or dryer climates.
Training in no till farming and the building of local reservoirs and sealed irrigation systems.
Education and health programs to both lower mortality and birth rates.
Small local power
The clay pot-in-pot evaporative refrigeration. A locally made clay device that allows those in hot dry regions to keep food longer , so even if yields drop from the heat decreased spoilage rates will make up for the difference.
There are many things that can be done with this imaginary $100 billion dollars a year but honestly, does anybody think they will bother?Recommend this Post
Monday, December 14, 2009
For those having trouble buying for their favourite family Conservative this year, here are a just a few of our top choices.
Tin foil hats many styles to choose from
Life time supply of Cool aid Yummm!
A variety pack of Sharpies I hear Stockwell fans can't get enough of these bad boys
Peter Mackay has been very popular and newsworthy with Conservatives this year encouraging a great range of themed gifts for young and old
For stocking stuffers there are lots of great little gifts like a
new Rubber hose,
or battery cables.
If you’re buying for someone in the midst of redecorating their basement perhaps a more substantial gift like their very own
or water board
These items are destined to become the focal point of any Conservative party.
There is even a home Waterboard game, great fun for all the little Cons
Don’t forget clothing! Can a Conservative ever have enough of these?
For those who admire John Baird (I hope they've been sterilized)
perhaps a dog collar
Or even a muzzle It even comes in conservative colours
I forgot a gift for Conservative closet druggies like Jaffer
A subscription to High times, I'm sure they probably send it in a brown rapper so the neigbours and mail carriers think its just raunchy porn.
A conservative foodie would love just love some
Athabasca marinated duck
If you're really loaded you can give someone a Pacific Island. This is the perfect Conservative gift because even after it sinks beneath the waves they’ll never complain about it, they'll even deny it ever happened. "How’s the Island?" , “Oh it’s great, we enjoy it so much, thanks so much for giving it to us”
Considering how much they've been giving it to us, it's only fair.
.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This year I’ve been somewhat of an absentee blogger yet when I did blog I often found something to write about that was not just malcontent bitching, I guess no election will do that to you.
This year I’m nominated for the bestBlog Post Series for my discussions on the doomer movement/mindset/obsession, starting with my post Embracing the Doom: What kind of doomer am I?
I don’t know if they are worthy, I don’t even care that you vote for me but I would hope you’d read what I consider some of my best and most relevant work.
.Recommend this Post
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Or at least of picture of Newmarket Aurora MP Lois Brown being pushed in the run down, sputtering, black smoke belching model T that she was riding for the Newmarket Santa Claus parade. This is just a minor thing yet it seems to mirror the backward, sputtering, ineffectual, planet destroying ideals of the Conservative Party.
Mind you MPP Frank Klees was in a horse drawn carriage which I'm sure was as fragrant as the "stuff" his cabal spouts.
Why is it the so called important people are too damn lazy to walk a short parade route but the 6 year olds dance students and 8 year old playing a flute can?Recommend this Post
I have to day I agree with the sentiment of Virtualtourist.com that what they've done to the facade of the ROM is an abomination ranking it the 8th ugliest building in world. I'm all for Modern building forms but why the hell do you have to destroy existing landmarks? Our historic buildings have value as there were. If you want modern design on new builds fine but don't destroy our heritage.
I'll also bet that in 20 years the East side of the building will still look mostly the same as it has for 100 years(+-) but the Fugly steel and glass on the north will not weather so well. I also have an issue with the image the Toronto Star used. This pic is of a brand new building, properly lit, clean and quite probably doctored all to hell in the lab. Go down in the day, overcast, not cleaned since they built it and you realize the pictures shown are not reality.
Besides, don't we have enough steel, glass and glare downtown?
I admit I've been inside the ROM and the space itself is not too bad but that alone does not justify what they've done to the outside.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
For all intensive purposes the H1N1 story has been a total clusterfuck.
First we have a pandemic that has not presented itself as any more deadly than the normal flu we get every year. Sure it’s very contagious and does not kill only the usual suspects, killing a few people in their prime as well as the young and very old but statistically it just not that deadly. Second we have governments who appear to have acted slow, promoted panic and then cannot understand why huge line ups are taxing the system, Duh!! The Media is no better for flogging the story of a 13 year old death but ignoring the fact that the Southern hemisphere’s death rate for this flu was not extreme. Finally we have a health minister who blames the panic on the people rather than her own government’s failings. The Auditor General says the Government has totally failed in its duty to be prepared for such emergencies. We are so lucky this is not as deadly as the Spanish Flu because the system would collapse.
Whether we blame the drug company for being slow or the Cons for not placing the order soon enough, for poorly educating the populous and causing panic, or we blame the local Governments for a bad distribution plan it’s certainly a case of too little too late. I give my son’s kindergarten class as example considering they had ½ the kids out last week. I also know several people who got have the flu after getting the shot. Now I’m not claiming the shot made them sick, I know better, but the shots came too late and the system of 3-4 hour line ups to get the shot probably infected more people than it protected.
So what is the good news? I’ve got a great doctor.
This morning our GP called my wife and told her that my two kids (3 and 5) were in the high risk category, told her he had the vaccine, was willing to discuss the vaccine and asked if we wanted to come in for shots. WTF!!!! A doctor that goes out of his way to cold call patients to see if they want the shot, I definitely have an A list GP who never over books, almost never lets you wait past your appointment time and apparently actually cares.
Of course it was irrelevant since we all had the flu last week, but still My GP Doctor Feldman deserves a big ATTABOY!
And no, he’s not taking patients
.Recommend this Post
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Some days are worth getting out of bed, some not so much. This morning when I rose to find out that the Church of Scientology (stupidtology) was convicted of fraud in France and fined about $1 million dollars I knew this was going to be one of the good ones. (expect appeals)
The illegal activities in question included "commercial harassment" and the pressuring of inductees to make large payments or take out loans to pay for books, courses and other crap that had no purpose but to enrich the Church.
Since when does a church force to you buy salvation or religious favours,,, oh yeah, but they stopped doing that a long time ago,,,,, didn't they?
This ruling continues the trend of legal losses in Europe as we saw in December 07 when Germany declared that this organization was not a Church stating "that we do not consider Scientology an organization that is compatible with the constitution," In other words did not meet the German definition of a Religion
No tax exempt status in Germany Bahahahah!
What I want to know is why the U.S. State department has previously criticized Belgium and Germany for labeling the organization a Cult/Sect and passing laws to restrict their operations?
Rather than defending this organization someone in U.S Government should be moving to crush them on their home turf. Of course considering the number of legal cases they've fought over their attempts to libel, hound, harass detractors including a Canadian Crown attorney as seen in the Canadian supreme court ruling on Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto,  2 S.C.R. 1130,
perhaps people are too timid to take them on.
Here is a little clip from paragraph 194 of the Supreme Court ruling which cost the Church $1.6 million
In summary, every aspect of this case demonstrates the very real and persistent malice of Scientology. Their actions preceding the publication of the libel, the circumstances of its publication and their subsequent actions in relation to both the search warrant proceedings and this action amply confirm and emphasize the insidious malice of Scientology.
Insidious Malice Wow! maybe they need more courses
Overall its been a bad press week for Scientology as Paul Haggis, Canadian director and screenwriter who both quit and denounced the Church for its Same sex marriage stand and takes a shot claiming the church does force members to shun those who leave the flock.
Oh, I gotta stop grining so much , it hurts
.Recommend this Post
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I'm just getting around to posting shots from my final harvest at the Newmarket Community Garden. I can't say it was a bumper year as I suffered the same horrible blight that destroyed many a urban farmers tomatoes this year but on the other hand the constant rain allowed me the leisure of NOT going to water 3 times a week. Yeah I'm a lazy slob, what's it to you?
Next year I will certainly do some things different,
no cucumbers: we simply can't eat more than a few
no corn: to much space for too little corn
no cabbage: while I like them they are no one else's favorites and for the five I planted I got one, the slugs got three, a thief got one(the nicest one) making it just not worth the space.
No broccoli: Not to hard to grow but timing the fine line between florets and flowers was a royal pain when the plants were not just outside the back door.
More root crops :the yield per sq ft is quite high
More beans staggered throughout the season : it was certainly feast and famine with this years beans
I'll probably keep my tomatoes in containers at home where the soil seems to be blight free
I did have some success this season with good crops of potatoes, zucchinis, beans, peas, carrots, and the above Parsnip That Ate Sheboygan
Peak Oil, food security and localization are important issues to me and having access to a garden through the York Region Food Network were I could grow good quality chemical free food that was good for my families health, good for our budget and good gardening experience was a valuable gift. Now if only I could get the little trolls we are raising to go help me without starting a water fight or sulking because I've asked them to come with me, I'll have it made
I have to say the people at the York Region Food Network do good work even if they do get their garden land taken away from them once a decade. Today I ventured out on a YRFN sponsored gleaning program and was able to collect nearly a bushel and a half of windfall apples. There were many varieties but I brought home Spartans, Northern Spy, Macs and Red Delicious. Yes they were dirty but it was very easy to find undamaged fruit laying on the ground that the people paying good money to Pick Their Own refuse to purchase. I suspect that much of this windfall actually gets collected by the orchard staff on most days and sent to the cider press but this morning they opened up their operation to the YRFN so people could glean free apples. I must say I was appalled at some of the recipients of this opportunity who once they got out in the fields picked from the trees against the owners instructions. @#%%@# Scum!!
As well as the gleaning program and the community gardens the YRFN also runs a food bank, community kitchen, shelter and various support programs. I would recommend this organization as a worthy cause for financial support or for any local students looking to log volunteer hoursRecommend this Post
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I'm just heading out but first I had to share this story which makes me want to pummel certain people with concrete donuts.
The Canadian Government aka, the Corporate Self Interest Club wants the EPA to back off on regulations that would stop the burning of Bunker fuel on Great Lake ships. Bunker fuel is the low grade crap left over from oil refining and it burns dirty, real dirty with up to 1.5% sulphur and releases high levels of smog creating nitrogen-oxide.
The EPA wants higher fuel standards to save the Great Lakes basin from smog and sulphur emissions while the Canadian Government aka (today at least )The Canadian Shipowners Association wants a delay until 2020 so they can install new scrubbers on the smoke stacks even though the tech does not exist today.
There is no health or environmental concern that these guys won't discount if the corporate lobby stands in their way.
Bastards today, bastards always.Recommend this Post
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In light of peak oil, pollution, global warming and those pesky food security issues that are dear to my heart(and belly) there are a great many things I’d like to see happen to make Newmarket Aurora a better and more sustainable place for what I believe will be a harder more austere future.
No more irrational development, yes we should increased density but stop building those damn 4000 sq ft homes, and stop allowing big box developments. Mixed use high density is the best model, each block should have a grocer, a restaurant, a bar, a play ground etc. Grouping all the retail and services around main arteries that no one can walk to is insane.
LEEDs certification for all new homes and major rebuilds, simple additions must be at least R2000 compliant. If people’s houses are so inefficient that they cannot heat them affordability you will get people freezing in the dark or installing in wood stoves that create smog and lead to deforestation, not to mention the number of dumb asses that burn down their houses or gas themselves when they bring the BBQ inside.
New Commercial buildings must utilize their roofs as green roofs, Solar PV or Solar thermal applications, 20 year phase in for all existing commercial buildings.
I’d like to see more open mindedness in the building codes regarding alternative building materials; Straw bail, earth bag, rammed earth etc. The carbon footprint of the building process must also be taken into account, not just the day to day carbon use.
No more drive through businesses with notice that existing ones must be phased out in 10 years. Having both an anti idling law and numerous drive throughs makes absolutely no sense.
I want the city to stop planting foreign ornamental trees everywhere. All trees should be indigenous species with at least half being productive varieties of fruits and nuts, providing both natural foods for wildlife and energetic citizens.
I don’t want the Widening of Davis Drive for public transit lanes.
Peak oil is going to severely reduce the amount of public traffic on the roads within the next 10 years. Widening this road to accommodate transit on the assumption that oil availability or price will never impact car use is blinkered thinking. The age of the car is ending, stop building infrastructure that perpetuates a broken model.
I want people to come forward to found a transition town movement (I’ll certainly join and take part but I won’t kid myself that organization or consensus building skills are my strong point, I’m too much the lazy malcontent)
Transition towns is a great movement devoted to helping towns and communities adapt to peak oil and more self reliance.
I’d like to see the creation of a food not lawns movement. The waste of water, energy, time and fertilizer on grass is a national disgrace. The potential benefit to food security, biodiversity and the survival of pollinators greatly outweighs the benefit of the uniformly boring dead zone we call lawns. While it’s your right to have a lawn I it’s also my right to utilize my soil to grow food.
I also want a lobby for the legalization of small urban livestock, hens, rabbits, dwarf goats as part of a greater Right to Farm legislation.
I want to see tax relief and zoning concession that encourage land owners to lease, donate or even use their honking big lawns to grow food locally. Just drive around the Pony and Stellar Drive industrial area, the lawns on some of these properties could supply 100s of people with produce. The utilization of urban lands to feed people is becoming more prevalent
Stop jerking us around on community gardens. After years of improving the soil in Newmarket’s community garden the region is giving urban farmers the boot, our new location will be a dead field of clay adjacent to the Magna center. In reality Magna should be additional garden plots not replacement plots
I’d like Ontario hydro to allow us the use of the hydro corridor for garden plots. There are many acres of untended and usable land going to waste.
I want a local food cooperative selling locally grown fresh and canned produce as well as bulk purchases of food staples.
I want to see the careers ended for those local politicians who think that the only thing they must offer to get my vote is more public ice rinks. There is more to life and their jobs than facilitating hockey…arrgggg!
I want to see strict enforcement of the no free range cat bylaw. If your dog, child or spouse is running amok in my yard I can call the police, if it’s a cat however you must trap it yourself because police or animal control won’t do anything. Cats and their freakishly zealot owners are apparently above a law that protects indigenous species like song birds from being hunted by a foreign and destructive species. If you’re too lazy to clean your own cat box put the cat down, don’t send it to crap in my garden
Ban golf courses- a place that Ontario exempts from the pesticide spraying laws
I want to see a group of environmentally aware people create a slate of like minded candidates in the next round of municipal elections.
I’d like the Newmarket Farmers market to have its board fired and a neutral party placed in charge. The market has lost good vendors because board members did not like losing market share to a better product, (the best meat pies are sold by a guy at the Aurora market now.) It also looks pretty obvious that many current vendors are breaking the rules and bringing out of region produce from the food terminal.
I’d like to see at least one weekend Go train that goes down 9:00ish a.m. and came back at 5-6 pm so that people can do the Ex, trade shows, theatre, the islands etc.
There are so many things that I want done yet I see no awareness to the need for change. I guess there are several answers but they all boil down to 2 categories
I’m a delusional crank
People are inherently short sighted and stupid
Or maybe there are people out there who will say, "Those are great ideas, I want to get involved" and will contact me to do something.
No, you are right. I must a be delusional Crank!!! bwahahahahaahah
.Recommend this Post
Who failed to see this one coming?
Gordon Landon the Conservative candidate for Markham-Unionville has been dumped by the party just days after admitting twice that Markham would get no stimulus money as long as it was a Liberal seat.
Landon stepped down yesterday after being asked(told/forced/threatened)by the party for the capital crime of being honest. It's not even a case that the Conservatives can claim Landon is simply mistaken since the numbers prove the vast majority of funded projects are in Conservative ridings.
Landon's comments "it's hard for me to bow to a lot of structure and having everything approved by Ottawa," and "I didn't follow Conservative policy in terms of getting permission to go on that TV show and I made a comment on that show that was an embarrassment to some members of the Conservative party."
Did no one tell this guy he had to check his scruples and free will at the door?
What really pisses me off is the idea that candidates need party permission to talk to the voters proving that its pure fantasy to believe they work for the people.Recommend this Post
Monday, September 28, 2009
Liberals tell us that only 12% of the stimulus money is flowing
Meanwhile Harper claims 90% of stimulus is flowing and bearing fruit.
That seems like one hell of a big difference, so just what does a promise of funding really mean to the Conservaties?
"The cheque is in the mail" or maybe those vague promises of loan repayment by dead beat family members. It might even mean "we jotted it down on cocktail napkin somewhere around here"
Personally I'm sure it means, "We'll keep claiming you'll get that money but never actually deliver in the hopes we get a majority in time to cancel the projects"
The only thing we can know for sure thanks to the Gordon Landon's admission last week that only Tory ridings will get any cash;
the fruit is rotten to the core just like the bastards tending the garden
.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The 1,700 residents of the Carteret Islands (part of Papua New Guinea) have gained the unwelcome distinction of being the first reported climate refugees created by rising sea levels.
So officially this crisis is not in the future anymore, it's here, it's now. It does not matter if Man, the Sun or a Burning Bush caused the problem we have to deal with it.
So WTF are we going to do about it?
Deniers have said it's either not happening or it's not our fault and not our problem. The few that admit it's happening but "natural' say we simply must adapt to the changes.
So tell me little wingnuts, are refugees also not our problem?
Should they just adapt to floating all day and drinking salt water?
.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
A recent Globe article high lighted the return of the canner, those intrepid folks who actually care enough about their food to do their own processing and preserving.
"The new breed of canner is driven by politics as much as practicality. A desire to eat locally and regain control over what goes into our food is fuelling a resurgence in farmers' markets and backyard kitchen gardens. Many see canning as a necessary step toward having year-round access to produce from their own region"
I admit that a portion of these people are simply foodies who wish to make their own distinct high quality food. Some of these folks are also recent converts to the local food movements like the 100 mile diet a useful and noble endeavour. Still others may be concerned about the health effects of eating genetically modified fruit and vegetables grown in China, sprayed with pesticides, adulterated with preservatives and sealed in a nice BPA lined can. Yummy!
What this article does not mention is that many of this new wave of canning enthusiasts are people preparing for the worst to happen. Peak oilers and their peak food brethren, those who fear a depression and unemployment and people who understand that a severe flu season could impair just in time food delivery systems all have sound reasons for taking food security into their own hands.
Now I understand this piece is from the food and wine section and I should not expect in depth journalism but would it be too much to ask that they at least throw the issue of food security a bone? Of course it's also quite possible that some of the people researched for the story simply lied about why they have started canning, these are people I call stealth doomers.
I know a number of these stealth doomers and if asked why? in a public environment will probably say "oh it's just a hobby", " I like to cook", "it tastes better". In reality they worry about the stigma that prepared or cautious people receive in our "live for the moment" society. The stories change drastically when you get them alone or in a small group of like minded people and you soon find out who has bags of rice under the bed, a solar oven or Berkeley water filter in the basement or even a gun in the attic, yet often their families and friends don't know about their preparations.
I remember a post from one lady saying she was afraid of having a guest stay over in her 2 bedroom apartment because if they oppened the guest closet they would find it filled with survival supplies. I'm not sure if it was fear of being mocked or fear of being robbed during an emergency.
Stealth doomers or not it's great news that people are canning again even if they are just making chutney. Just a year or two ago Bernardin Canada had proposed killing the Mason Jar line because canning was dying off and it was losing money for the company. Had this new wave of enthusiasts not arisen the jars would have been discontinued for sure and eventually the lids and seals may have ceased production.
Besides, chutney, salsa, relishes etc. are all good small batch preserves on which to hone your skills and when peak oil does begin to limit our variety of foods people will find that tasty condiments go a long way in limiting food monotony.
In our house gardening, gleaning, freezing, canning and seed saving have all been part of this years food security effort and I tell everybody exactly why I'm doing it. Doomers should open up more and encourage others to do the same, that way there will be less people at your door begging for chutney should/when the hard times come.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
There is still a fair bit of fuss going on about the birth status of Prez Obama, as LaDaro posts this morning.
A goodly number of these anti Obama wingnut’s don’t believe the Hawaiian certificate of live birth is valid enough proof because it’s the less acceptable short form rather than the longer full birth certificate. The argument being that if this short form is not good enough identification to use on a passport (which it apparently isn't), it certainly can't be good enough to support his right to rule.
Other’s Obama critics claim that the reported dual citizen status of his birth father or Obama’s own possible dual citizenship in Indonesia invalidate his claim on the white house. His apparently senile granny who claimed he WAS born in Kenya certainly did not help the cause.
Here’s an entire archive of articles questioning his status if you’re a glutton for punishment.
Despite an unanimous resolution by the House of Representatives stating that Obama is "natural born" some of these guys just won't give up. Jason Hommel a silver analyst, who constantly mixes his hard money advocacy with libertarianism and scripture is actually offering $100k for anybody who can definitively prove Obama’s “natural born’ status
Since Obama is inviting people up to the White House to have a beer and discuss their differences I hope he digs up the definitive proof, calls up Hommel and tells him drop by and bring his cheque book. Even better tell him to bring the $100k in silver.
.Recommend this Post
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Take some quantity of milk, add sparkling water, fruit juice, a heap of sugar and something to keep it from spoiling unrefrigerated for several months and you've got Coke's newest beverage VIO, which they appear to be marketing as something healthy and natural.
This VIO is currently being tested in NY natural food stores and have no doubt that dumb ass people will be pouring this crap into their kids thinking that it's a reasonable alternative to milk for their sugar addicted children. An 8oz container can of Citrus Burst, Peach Mango, Tropical Colada or Very Berry sports a very cola like 26 grams of sugar yet has only a bit of vitamin C, Calcium and less than 1/8 the protein of real milk.
If they want to sell this shit that's their business but if they dare to market this as a health drink as it looks like they are doing in their tests, there should be outrage. What's next energy milk with ephedra and caffeine?Recommend this Post
Monday, June 15, 2009
While I don't mind them snapping the town I'm not sure I want to be immortalized schlepping around for the next couple of years even if they do blur the faces.
The second pic reminds me that I need to spend a day shooting and posting the license plates of all the assholes around here that run that stop sign every day.Recommend this Post
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Last night I was on my way home from a local Green Party meeting and dropped in to the Real Canadian superstore at 15900 Bayview Ave in Aurora where I noticed a young mother pushing a baby carriage up the driveway, in traffic towards Bayview ave. (I really gotta get a small camera I can carry around all the time for this stuff.)
My first reaction was WTF are you doing? until I noticed that there was no sidewalk adjacent to the road access allowing people to exit the plaza safely on foot.
View Larger Map
Closer to the store I did see steep stairs out of the parking area cut into a hill, which I suppose works fine if you are young and healthy enough and if you are NOT using a bundle buggy, a stroller, walker, or scooter. Unfortunately this young lady and her child don’t meet that criteria and are apparently considered expendable by Town planners, Loblaws and who ever owns the real-estate, simply because she can’t afford or chooses not to use a car.
Thinking about other malls I realized that this is not the exception and that people on foot are often forced into traffic to get into and out malls. I can cope with being forced to walk through the parking area as people are generally more restrained there, but since people really gun it when they get to that exit road it's not a safe place for pedestrians. The vehicles entering the plazas are no better and can be seen doing the speed limit as they turn off the main road and into potential foot traffic, quite dangerous and unnecessary.
I know it’s hard to build for every circumstance but a sidewalk around the periphery of parking lots and out to the town sidewalk is not rocket science folks. There is no absolutely no reason a mother and infant should be forced to walk in this kind of traffic. In this case not only is the entrance over 100 ft long but it's on a steep incline making her exit a slow plod up hill. This incline also reduces the visibility of the exit from the road.
Towns keep on claiming they have green agendas but when relatively new developments like this still scream "pedestrians don’t matter" the claims are proven hollow.Recommend this Post
Monday, June 8, 2009
A number of years ago I belonged to a community garden long before I was aware of all the reasons it should be more widely spread and supported by local governments. Eventually things happened, we both began to commute to the city on a daily basis, the land the garden was on was slated for redevelopment and the garden got move to the other side of town making it just that much harder for us to work on a regular basis. I think somewhere in there was my pouched thyroid and a nasty ass case of carpel tunnel in both wrists making much of the work damn hard to accomplish, we finished the season and gave up our plot.
It has to be 5-6 years later now and while I still commute and now have kids to take up my time, I also know that we can no longer take our food security for granted, so once again I applied for and received one of the few spaces not retained by last years gardeners. What really surprises me about the program is the lack of continuity and the level of support from the town/region. I know that they have supplied land, water, mulch and man hours to the program but in my first year back after a number of years away I find there is still a waiting list to get in, there have been no new gardens or land added to the town’s program and while town population has climbed to over 70,000 there are only 64 plots available, the same as 6 years ago.
Perhaps the most disconcerting thing to find out is that the municipality wants its land back and we are moving from a piece of land where people have been working to improve the soil to a new garden with unimproved clay. I would have been ecstatic had they simply added the new clay field as additional plots which could be bettered over time, increasing the towns productivity and enticing new urban farmers into the program, but to once again turf people off fertile soil is both maddening and shows the lack of understanding and commitment from local governments towards local food, not to mention health and poverty. I’m unsure who the land belongs to but I think it’s York Region rather than Newmarket.
There are other things I don’t understand about the way our community garden is run.
You are not allowed access to your plot until a time around the regional frost date and the last date for gardening is in October
I was told this was so they could roto-till the field and restake the garden plots in the spring and since the machines need relatively dry soil they could not allow us into the gardens until late may. This explanation seems like a crock to me because the plots were not newly tilled and there was still a patch of the last gardener’s lettuce waiting for me on possession day, as well as dead tomatoes plants and cages from last year.
The gift lettuce is ready to start eating, Thank you mystery gardener.
Even if they did plan on tilling the soil and it just fell through I can’t for the life of me figure out why they would bother!
The soil is relatively easy to work, the plots are only 10x20, and the tilling limits both the length of the farming season and ability to plant perennial crops like asparagus, rhubarb, or raspberries because they plan to till your roots. This also stops people from sowing garlic which must go into the ground in the fall, stirs up more weed seeds and minces your worms. No planting until late May means you lose weeks off the growing season for frost resistant crops like lettuce, radishes and peas. With the lettuce and radishes you could probably get a crop harvested before the frost date even arrives, greatly increasing your yield for the year.
Some people might even have the ambition to slap together a cold frame and start frost resistant plants even earlier as my Grandfather used to do with cabbages; you could do the same with lettuce, strawberries, or spinach. The same cold frames used in the fall could keep people in salad greens until solstice. A later closing date for the garden would also improve the taste of some crops like parsnips that sweeten with frost. Since some people are prone to lose produce at home because of poor storage conditions or lack of refrigerated space, if access to the garden was extended later into the year many root crops can be heavily mulched and then dug up fresh right up until a hard freeze.
So while I’m pleased with this opportunity to access to free land, I’m uneasy with the lack of municipal support for the program and some aspects of the implementation which limits the flexibility and productivity of the garden plots. The organization that runs this program, the York Region Food network, has gardens in Newmarket, Aurora, Markham and Georgina. They also run a community kitchen program, the local food bank and a gleaning program, so I know they do good work, but there is room for improvement.
All this said, since I don’t have the time to get more involved and try to change the program from within I guess I should just STFU and enjoy my veggies.
For those interested my plot is now fully planted with, green beans, bok choy, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, hot and green peppers, zuks, cuks and a patch of dwarf blue corn.
I’ll be posting pics as things start looking greener.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
As if things were not bad enough, we have a recession/depression, we have absolute morons running the country, we've got a brand new $50 billion deficit and North Korea is theatening to light up the pacific rim, but no it gets worse.
Fran Rubel Kuzui the director of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie (Donald Sutherland/Kristy Swanson) and the holder of the movie rights wants to do a new Buffy movie. Is there no sanity in the universe?
Buffy the Vamipre Slayer was one of the worst movies I've ever seen and I was quite amazed when someone had the guts to give the writer, Joss Whedon a second chance. Despite it's horrific origins Whedon brought Buffy to TV, salvaged his name, his dignity and the entire Buffyverse managing a seven year run and the successful spin off series Angel.
Now Kuzui, who runied the original film wants another shot. This cannot be allowed, I need my Buffy, Willow, Anya and Spike fix not more crap from Kuzui. ARGGGGGG
In most cases I'm either oblivious about TV and pop culture or just don't give a damn but don't mess with my Star Trek, Babylon 5 or Buffy.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Flint Michigan is a perfect example of a dilapidated rust belt city whose population has dropped from about 200,000 to 110,000 according to recent estimates. This decrease has brought Flint to the point that some neighbourhoods are too sparsely populated to be supported by the tax base. Empty, burnt out or vandalized homes are everywhere leaving garbage trucks, postmen snow ploughs and road crews to service streets that only have a few inhabitants. Neighbourhoods in Flint are dysfunctional and retail businesses struggle because of the low density levels created by 110,000 people spread over 34 square miles in 75 distinct neighbourhoods
A partial solution being considered for Flint’s problem is to tear down part of the city. The city would demolish the worst neighborhoods offering displaced people an equivalent or better homes in more stable parts of the city in an attempt to revitalize communities, make businesses in those areas sustainable and allow the city to curtail costly services in the almost dead zones. The ability to consolidate social services and policing would also go a long way to making Flint a liveable and safe city again. I think this is quite a rational idea and a model that should be used in other dying rust belt cities but I don’t think it goes far enough.
Razing these communities should be part of a greater plan for the eventual rebirth and growth of these cities in a decade or two as Midwestern droughts, increasing population, peak oil and rising sea levels push people back into the great lake regions. A city like Flint should try to divide itself into a series of population hubs surrounded by new mixed use urban agriculture zones. These urban farms would create local food, jobs, pride and independence. Some of the dead zones could be made into parks and recreation areas or even just left to naturalize while others could be used as huge community sized geothermal heat sources for the waves of high density high efficiency homes needed to prepare for peak oil and climate based migration. As new open spaces are created, zoning changes and city acquisitions can assure that the land for an efficient transit system is set aside for future need.
If governments want to pour money into stimulus projects let them do so by rebuilding a city as test bed for the myriad of design and attitude changes needed to make post carbon cities work. It makes more sense than what they are doing now.Recommend this Post
Friday, May 8, 2009
Yesterday was the National day of Prayer in the U.S. but fortunately Obama unlike his predecessor did not make a big fuss about the event.
This of course outrages wingnuts who refuse to accept that religion is a personal choice not a national duty, but at least one SANE preacher, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance is quoted saying “President Obama is not the pastor in chief of the nation” Amen Brother!
Can you imagine God picking up his voice mail last night? All that righteous indignation, whining and incoherent thought must have been quite a challenge to tolerate all in one sitting. So because I'm not an American and to show a little consideration I saved mine for today. I guess being all powerful means having a strong stomach too. Geez tough job!
Dear higher entity/entities of indeterminate or neutral genders please heed my prayer. If you really exist and are not too busy listening to the grovelling of your faithful, please smite someone on my list. You know, The LIST!
I'm not quite sure where I’ve left the list but surely with your reported omniscience you can find it. Maybe you would be so kind as to leave it someplace more obvious when you’re finished with it? Excuse the penmanship and just highlight anyone you can’t make out so I can fix it for next time.
While not imperative maybe you could make the smiting a little bit flashy like a lightening strike, being torn apart by wild dogs or an exploding head like in Scanners! Car crashes are so blasé
P.S. plz ignore any requests to smite me, they are obviously just clerical errors.
.Recommend this Post
Friday, May 1, 2009
It's not as if we were not warned about this in recent years with millions of birds killed to stop the spread of Avian Flu, or the mistakes that allowed Hoof and Mouth disease to ravage the U.K. or the Mad Cow problem. Don't forget the local Listeria and e.coli outbreaks or the poisoned food and milk in China. We don't treat our animals or our other food sources with the care and respect they deserve.
As should have been expected, NAFTA has allowed greedy and irresponsible factor farm practices to move into Mexico where weaker controls and lower priced bribes are the norm. If you've ever smelled a factory farms cesspool in Canada you can only imagine what it would be in like in a country that has poor regulation and is bending over backwards for economic investment and jobs, the potential for disease is astronomical.
Well, today's Star article gives you a small glimpse of the factory farm conditions and quotes experts saying Nafta is to blame for the current flu whose name is no longer swine. I like the NAFTA Flu,it's a good name and much easier to say than the Greedy Corporatist Bastards Flu.
.Recommend this Post
Sunday, April 26, 2009
An important article from scientific American, or somewhere where they spliced it all into one page making it a little more readable.
the content in just a few works amounts to
too damn many of us, consuming to damn much stuff, destroying to much damn land, using too damn much water, with too little damn time to fix it. happy day everyone!Recommend this Post
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I often see lists of things people like, best electronics or the best cars but what about us doomers? What are the best things we should own to be well prepared?
Now I'm not talking about having a weeks worth of food or 10 candles for an emergency because I expect you to already have the basics, rather I'm talking about more substantial items that would be of great advantages for either powering down or in an emergency. I know this is not necessarily the definitive list but more of way of arguing with myself and with you on how to best utilize my meagre resources and prioritize my doomer centric purchases.
I’ve actually have one of these and think it’s a great tool for cooking small breads, casseroles, roasts, even boiling and sterilizing water but as my current yard is not consistently sunny enough I don't get to use it except at the cottage. The Peak Oil Hausfrau says this is her favourite appliance and has a number of useful posts on oven use I'd recommend you read. There are several types of solar cookers made; some are simple reflectors, some have back up gas heating or are very portable, mine is the Global Sun Oven pictured here which ran about $320 with shipping, tax and dollar exchange. While slower than a real oven this useful toy is absolutely free to use and is also carbon guilt free. Depending on your location this might be only a three season product but fuel saved in one season will mean more available later.
Berkley water filter
Whether it’s for constant use, seasonal concerns about your ground water or even to drink roof runoff in an emergency the Berkley Water Filter family is the Cadillac of free standing home water systems. These systems range in size and flow allowing you to get a good match for your personal usage and your budget. For long term use I would suggest getting several sets of spare filter up front and then repurchases them each time you change them out. This will give you the most use in case supply disruptions should occur as some point
A Quality Grain mill
Wheat's long term storability and nutrition makes it a common find in most doomer's pantries but since most of us don’t want to pound it with a stick or grind it between two stones a good quality grain mill such as the heavy duty Diamant Grain Mill or the more modest but highly rated Country Living Grain Mill is a must. A Grain mill is a tool that could be used several times a week if not daily so it does not pay to cut corners and buy the cheapest thing you can find. Most mills have spare part kits available which you may or may not need but certainly buy a spare set of burrs(the part that actually grinds).
A Pressure Canner
Unless you have guaranteed access to fresh meat and/or a working freezer with a stable power source you control you will eventually need to preserve low acid items such as meat, fish, and veggies.
I swear my Grandmother use to do carrots and beans without pressure canner and no one died but what do I know? Government health agencies say high pressure canning is the only safe way to can low acid stuff, high acid things like jellies, tomatoes, chutneys etc do not need a pressure canner.
A smoker is an ideal way to preserve meat by making hams, sausage or even smoking fish but since many of the commercial smokers look to be propane or electric powered I think I’d be looking to make my own wood/charcoal fired smoker. Or perhaps you'd rather buy the Big Green Egg
Alcohol is now and always has been one of mans great escapes. With your own still not only can one make potable alcohol but you can also produce fuel for a modified engine, medicinal alcohol for sterilizing wounds and equipment, or for making tinctures, tonics, pain killers like Laudanum. A small still with a hopper or basket allows you to strip essential oils from herbs and plants for medicine, flavourings, or scents. Finally alcohol is a great preservative for such things as seasonal fruit or Admiral Nelson if you’ve got one laying about. There are many sites dedicated to building your own or you can purchase them here, or here.
check local laws I did not suggest that you do anything illegal
A treadle sewing machine
An old singer or its contemporary’s with all the parts and bobbins in tact are ideal for basic sewing and should be a no brainer addition to the doomers home. More recently the Janome made a model called the 712T(and probably others) which fit into the old singer treadle tables and had many of the more modern sewing machine features. Old treadles are a dime a dozen on the used market but because some people think they are collectible they may ask far too much for them, many also are incomplete. Some like my Grandmother's looked original but had suffered an electric conversion and some of the original pieces missing. Look carefully to assure you get both a structurally sound table and a working sewing machine. If you end up with a spare treadle and no sewing machine I've seen some great plans for a treadle powered hobby lathe.
A modest solar recharging system
While it would be great to be totally off the grid with enough power to live life exactly like we live now that is not financial viable for the majority of people. However a modest solar recharging system
consisting of enough solar cells to charge a laptop, cell phones or batteries for flashlights, lanterns small small appliances or toys can add a little safety and normalcy to a tough situation without breaking the bank
Water capture system
Every doomer needs a water system that not only fills rail barrels or a cistern for the garden but one that allows you divert water to tanks for indoor use during droughts. Roof run of is certainly fine for laundry and flushing and if you prefilter for sediment would be quite drinkable after passing through your Berkely water filter, or boiling it in the sun oven. Do both if your paranoid.
A rugged bike and trailer
Eventually getting around or shopping will no longer take place in a car and a durable bike for all members of your household is very important as is at least one trailer for hauling what ever it is you need to move from place to place. If age, health, mobility is an issue they make adult trikes with a good size cargo basket on them or get an electric assist bike
A real first aid kit
I'm not talking one of those crappy 3 band aids and a safety pin things the car emergency clubs give you as a premium but a real high end kit supplemented with a good assortment of painkillers, antihistamines, antidiarrheals, antibiotic creams, calamine etc as well as a complete backup set of any prescribed medicine you use that is regularly rotated to keep fresh. I’m not a first aid expert but a couple hundred dollars is minimum to get a relatively complete kit.
Now I can probably think of many other things I think doomer should own or could find useful but what do you think? And before someone starts on me about this, lets leave a discussion on guns and firepower to another day, ok?
.Recommend this Post
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
For a year or two I have been reading the occasion article at Riot 4 Austerity about a challenge where participants attempt to reduce their emissions by 90% in order to prove that Americans can limit themselves to what their fair share of the worlds emission should be if we are to limit the damage caused by global warming. The challenge is extreme yet a large a number of people have taken it up with well over 60 people contributing to the site alone and probably very many more taking the challenge in silence.
What these people are trying to achieve shatters the western norm and should be an example for all of us to contemplate if not emulate, that said no matter how admirable their actions seem it's always somewhat distant and abstract because they are not someone I know or someone who is local.
Well tonight I was at a presentation by Mike Nickerson in promotion of his new book Life, Money and Illusion (Living on Earth as if we want to stay) and was introduced to Tara Mae Hillyer who like the Rioters has created her own one year challenge called Four Seasons of Green. The description of her challenge is such
The journey of a suburban family taking the challenge to reduce their carbon footprint by becoming environmentally responsible for their own waste and bi-products as well as socially accountable through their consumer habits.
5 goals are to be reached through this year of ‘greening’.
1. To eliminate the chemical products ingested and applied topically (food-pesticide/herbicide, body care products)
2. To allow Zero chemicals to go down drains (sink, tub, dishwasher, washing machine)
3. To engage 100% Social Conscious Buying Habits in the Family
4. To increase Family’s Awareness of Global Social Justice Issues
5. To get off the electric/gas grid while remaining in a suburban environment
The project launches in January 2009. Each member of the family will maintain a monthly video blog in addition to interviewing local community members, politicians and activists on sustainability, environmental responsibility and social justice. Through the website for this project the public can follow the process of this transition; the difficulties, successes and support from other citizens. Each month video updates and video ‘how to’ guides will be posted. Upon the completion of the project at the end of 2009 a documentary film will be produced.
Tara's goals are defined somewhat differently than the Rioters yet she still challenges us all to look at what we consume and its cost to our health, the planet and the poor saps half a world away who make all this crap for us.
I would recommend that my readers, especially those that live in York Region look in on Tara's site and encourage her in this difficult challenge
.Recommend this Post
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Have you ever wanted to offend your overly religious, in your face In-laws? Have you ever wanted to get back at your mother for those endless Sunday sermons you were forced to sit through? Well the National Secular Society in the U.K. has just the thing for you!
So if someone else made a decision to indoctrinate you as a child into a faith you don't believe in, you now have the option of proclaiming your release with the purchase of your very own Certificate of Debaptism.
Now I don’t really get the point of buying a certificate when your words should be sufficient to set you free, if you feel the need. But considering that some people are willing to attached weights to themselves in an attempt to recreate a foreskin just to correct a past decision made on their behalf, I suppose there must be a market for this service beyond just annoying people. Mind you annoying people is usually enough for me, but I generally don't pay for the privilege!
Mmmmm, I’m often so ashamed of us as a species I wonder if I can get a certificate removing myself from the human race? Maybe I should design one and charge other people for it?
.Recommend this Post
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I’ve been shouting at everyone for about 2 years to get off their asses and start gardening as a defence against poverty and food shortages brought on by peak oil and financial crisis. During this time I realized several things
1. A very small portion of the population gardens for food
2. A very small portion of the population know much about food or how it’s produced; an extreme example is here.
3. Of those who do garden many use hybrid seeds which do not breed true and should not or can not have their seeds harvested and saved from season to season. This makes you reliant on seed companies who essentially control the food supply.
4. If something happens and many people decide they want or need to garden for survival the available seed supply for local gardeners will be hopelessly insufficient to meet the publics demand. Such an event might require several years of gearing up by smaller seed companies and seed saving gardeners to meet demand for open pollinated seeds.
5. As rightly brought up in the comments, saving your own seed allows you to collect seeds from those particular plants that are best adapting or climatizing to your local climate and soil. Eventually, several plant generations later I will have a local plant regardless of where it originated or where I purchased the seed.
These revelations caused me to begin buying seeds, not just seeds I needed for a particular years gardening plans and not even the seeds of things I like to eat best but just seeds. The point of this is not some attempt to get the entire collection like an 8 year old with hockey cards. The point is to build up a personal seed bank that contains a good variety of different vegetables, herbs (medicinal and culinary) as well as oil and fibre plants just in case they were ever needed.
All the seeds I buy are open pollinated so I can save their seeds for future years and most are heritage crops which were selected for taste rather than durability in shipping like the tasteless shit we get from the grocery store most of the year.
My first purchase was a collection from AAOOB foods of 34 varieties of veggies, herbs and fruit in a 2 gallon plastic pail ready to freeze for long term storage, this kind of purchase is an easy, nearly anyone can do, food insurance policy. Even if you can’t freeze them they will still remain viable for several years in a cool dry environment, stick them on a shelf in the basement.
Since then, I’ve found this company which offers what looks to be a better deal with more varieties, the only issue is they don’t break down the kits so you know what varieties of seeds you are getting ahead of time, still 60 varieties from 25 vegetable types all open pollinated for $90 US is a damn good deal as is the 275 varieties from 30 vegetable types for $375. Even better these kits have southern and northern variations to ensure you get plants suitable for your climate. A kit like this would make you a micro seed bank able to freeze for long terms storage for your personal use or to disperse to others in case of need.
I’ve also purchased individual seeds packages of heritage crops with the intention of using my limited garden space and growing out a selection of them each year in rotation to increase the amount of seed I’m storing. For example this year I will plant Ardwyna paste tomatoes, a bean variety called Orca, Bronze Amaranth, Kamut, Potimarron squash and hulless barley called Faust.
In each case I’ll only plant a few grams or maybe an ounce of each species but by only planting 1 variety of each species to avoid crosspollination and using proper seed saving techniques I can probably increase my hoard of seed in these varieties by 15-50 fold, an ounce become pounds, a gram an ounce, and I’ll still be able to eat from these plants crops. Each year I will rotate to different varieties in order to increase them as well and to replace and refresh the vitality of seeds that have been frozen for too many years.
At some point I’ll be able to share my seeds with other gardeners or if I get a bigger plot of land perhaps I can even start my own online seed store. In either case I’m increasing the supply of seeds for myself and others and just as important, I’m preserving the genetics of heritage crops that are being squeezed out by often sterile or genetically unstable hybrids. Do you honestly think that in a time of food crisis that large seed companies like Monsanto won’t screw us over by buying and killing heritage seed companies so that you will be forced to buy new sterile seed from them each and every year at a new and inflated price?
Provided you are not surrounded by other gardeners who will pollute your genetics everyone should try seed saving. If you do have fellow gardeners too close perhaps you can agree to sow the same types of plant, or offer to grow beans for both of you while they grow tomatoes for both of you. This would allow you to garden yet maintain the isolation of species required to breed your seed true.
A network of people working together locally could maintain and increase a wide variety of seeds and trade back and forth. They could also support local community gardens with seeds or make seed packages for distribution to people frequenting food banks. A return to local food is probably in our future but it’s not going to happen without some help from individuals taking part in saving and increasing the quantity of open pollinated seeds. If you don't garden consider doing so. If you do garden make it count!
While far from complete or adequate (I’m currently light on root crops and medicinals) the green Assassin Seed Bank currently contains
Barley - Faust
Beans- all dry bean or multi use varieties.
Mitla Black Tepary
True red cranberry
Good Mother Stallard
Carrots- I forget
Cucumber – Bushy
Flax – a fibre variety
Kamut- Polish Wheat
Opium poppies- you never know if modern medicine will survive the coming chaos, pain abatement or euthanasia may be up to you. Seeds are so good in baking, if you don’t need to pass random drug tests.
Parsnip - Harris Model
Long Island Cheese
Sugar beets – I even have the instructions to make molasses and sugar from them.
Sunberry- I have no clue what a sunberry is but figured I’d give it a try
Wheat – Hard White Spring
I've purchased most of my seeds from Salt Springs Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange or Richter’s Herbs
What your neighborhood needs is a seed library
.Recommend this Post
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Spring has sprung
De grass is riz
I wonder where dem doomers is?
Spring or not, no grass will be rising in this part of Ontario for another week or more so this doomer is sitting in the basement sorting seeds, checking the calendar for planting dates and filling planting trays with starting mix in preparation for the season ahead. It’s now only 7 weeks until last frost which allowed me to plant the first of my tomatoes “Ardwyna Paste” under grow lights, joining the strawberries whose vague instructions of “plant in early spring” enticed me to start them right away. I have no doubt I planted them too early but I’m sure we can live with a few strawberry pots on the coffee table for a few weeks if needs be. My cabbage, onions and a couple of test Tomatillos are already sprouting and due to my usual planting exuberance I’ll probably have enough surplus plants to sell at this springs garage sale or give away to friends as an encouragement to start their own gardens.
As an urban adaptor with limited space it’s a daunting task trying to figure out how one will strive for any reasonable level of food security but there are options, some are quite reasonable, some require actual work and others many be a little to extreme for the more squeamish doomer (and no I’m not talking cannibalism …….. yet!)
Any discussion on food security should start the same way every energy security discussion should, simply cut back! Unless you are uncommonly active, thin and modest in your caloric intake most people could easily drop 100-400 calories or perhaps even more from their diet per day, freeing up supply for others and cutting the costs and work required to feed yourself. On average we eat too much; we eat out of boredom, for entertainment, and for simple gluttony so this is the most logical place to start the conversation.
Likewise we must take a serious look at what we eat and how we use it. The production of meat is up to 7 times less efficient than eating the grain yourself. Eating meat negatively impacts the number of people our agricultural system can support, our health, the availability and quality of our water resources and increases green house gases. In a time of hardship whole grain, bean, lentil, and tofu based meals can provide adequate protein, improve your health, save you money, all with the side benefit of treading lighter on the earth.
You should also remove the empty calories that add cost but no utility to your diet such as refined sugars, alcohol, etc and then calculate what you really need to survive. If you have the means to purchase or produce these things when times get tough great, but having a target of real needs instead of wants as a baseline is an important step in planning your food security. And before someone who knows me starts sniping and calling me a hypocrite, I admit to being an over exuberant consumer of meat and beer but I also know a time will probably come when I won’t be able to do so.
Finally we must look at our level of personal food waste and ways to reduce it, especially considering studies in the U.S place waste as high as 30%. That’s a lot of food grown, shipped, bought, and tossed out. It’s also a perfect example of low hanging fruit, an easy and free way reducing your total consumption.
Do you refuse to eat leftovers? Or maybe only use them once rather than until they run out?
Do you cut around a blemish on a fruit or veggie, or do you toss the whole thing?
Do you make stock from a turkey or chicken carcass?
When you eat out do you use the doggy bag?
Do you habitually buy lettuce every time you shop because you know you should eat more salad but end up tossing one out every weak because you could not be bothered making one?
Have you ever bought an entire container of something with an expiry date only to use a single dollop in one recipe knowing full well you have no use for the rest of the product.
We all do irrational wasteful things that endanger our food security and blow a shit load of money. I’m not saying you should not buy that container of sour cream but perhaps you should plan a menu allowing you to have leak and potato soup, perogies/tacos, baked potatoes or a homemade veggie dip all within a two weak period making use of the entire container. Don’t buy the damn lettuce unless you are committed to 2-3 salads in 4 days and eat those leftovers or convert them into new dishes like sheppard’s pie, soup, or bubble and squeak. Bake or make sauces with overripe fruit. Plan and shop to a menu and stick to it.
I’m convinced that if most people looked at the questions of how much do I need? What should I eat? And how can I fully utilize what I do have? They would only need 50-60% of their current food supply, How much effort put into gardening or stalking a deer could you save by cutting consumption by 40%? How much money would a 40% reduction save you?
Once you know how much food you really need you can then decide on the appropriate strategies to acquire it. All food strategies can be broken down into 3 categories, purchasing food, growing food or scrounging food.
With today’s access to a wide variety of cheap and easy foods from around the world few people even farmers make any attempt to be food independent. As adapters we will try to produce as much of our own food as possible but true independence is simply not possible. One person cannot expect to be a gardener, a herder, a butcher, a miller, an apiarist or a blessed cheese maker all in their backyard plot. Specialization and barter between many urban farmers can eliminate some of these deficiencies but there will always be some things that can’t be done on the small, local, and urban scale. This means we will always be dependent on vendors, be they grocery stores, co-ops or farmers markets to supply those things we cannot produce ourselves.
The secret is to optimize those purchases you are required make by shopping in bulk. Now it’s understandable that most people cannot afford to buy a skid of flour even if they did have somewhere to store it but there are other ways to buy large quantities. You might find that club stores work for you despite the problems of membership fees, rarely being walkable or not always having the best prices on some items. Other alternatives include bulk food stores or even better food cooperatives that have local ownership, help form community bonds and can have access to local producers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of individual sales. If you do garden or have a useful craft you might find your co-op an ideal place to sell or trade your surplus. I think co-ops are the way to go and I would encourage anyone to join one or investigate forming a group to create one. Sadly this is not a business model that has gained much ground in Canada.
Eventually things we’ve grown accustomed to like imported off season fruits and veg may no longer be available, we must again learn to eat seasonally and preserve our local bounty just like our grandparents did.
Provided you have access to land the best way to gain food security is to grow it yourself. You may not have a lot of space, you may not have good soil but short of having 100% shade nearly every property should be able to produce at least some food. Square food gardening shows you how to get a considerable amount of produce from a limited area and even if you don’t have great soil you can always build raised beds or use container gardening. Having no gardening skills is no excuse, the ability to grow food is a basic skill that let humans form communities and civilization as we know it (not necessarily a good thing). Surely such a basic skill mastered by Neolithic man is not beyond your skills, but start now it does take time.
Starting now also gives you time to improve the fertility of your soil by adding organic matter, improving the drainage, Ph and level of helpful micro organisms. All around us there are sources of organic matter that can improve your soil, do your own composting, collect sea weed by the sea, grass clippings from your neighbors who don’t spray, leaves from a park, or ask for the coffee grounds from your neighborhood coffee shop, it’s all good. Many municipalities even have events where you can get cheap or free rain barrels, composters or compost. Soil is only poor and unproductive because you let it stay that way.
If you really don’t have enough space to garden you should look into joining a community garden program. While some areas like mine are severely limited in space (70 plots for over 70,000 population), added demand and/or advocating to businesses, towns, utilities and school boards to provide land for more community gardens should eventually create more gardening spaces. Demand municipalities support community gardens. If you can find someone who is speculating on vacant land for the long term you might even negotiate cheap leases on properties large enough to support a profit generating market garden, creating food and employment.
In your daily lives look for opportunities, perhaps a local business could be convinced to give up its lawn so employees could garden at lunch and after work and you as adviser/manager would get a portion of the garden as your own. Sell it to them as a way to help their employees save money and become healthier, a way to show they are a good corporate citizens, and a way to save money on a lawn service. The same offer could be made to use a portion of a school yard supplying both you and the cafeteria with real food all while teaching students a real skill they can use.
A sick or elderly neighbor may let you garden their yard simply to get some free produce and a little company, before too long you’ll probably find them puttering along behind your doing something they did not think they were still able to do.
I just noticed a mistake above, even if you do have 100% shade in your yard you could bring in wood shavings, logs, straw or some other appropriate medium and plant mushrooms or morels. No yard need be barren of edible life.
Somewhere between gardening and purchasing is the CSA , Community Sustained Agriculture. In a CSA you buy a share of farm’s crop for the year and each week during the growing season you receive a basket of what ever is in season. Some CSA’s require their members do labour especially at planting and picking time, others like the one we belong to does not.
All CSAs are not equal however, some are organic some aren't, I said before some may ask for your labor, most won't. Unless you eat anything it may take you some time to find a CSA that grows a selection of vegetables that suites your tastes. Our current farm did not originally meet our needs and after a summer of drowning in honeydews but no beans to speak of we dropped out for a couple of years. With better planning, experience, and more understanding of what their customers wanted we have returned to the same CSA finding a much more balanced food basket.
Guerrilla gardening is also an option, simply pick plant types that require minimum care and plant them on vacant land and hydro corridors and see what happens. You might lose it all to animals, lack of care or vandals but you might also end up with a field of squash or patch of amaranth ready to harvest come fall. If you back onto a hydro cut simply put up temporary snow fence and extend your yard past your lot line. You might get told to remove it immediately or be left alone for years to garden on free land, either way begging forgiveness is easier than asking permission.
In the same vein as begging forgiveness rather than asking permission, most municipalities will ask you to comply with bylaws before they fine you or start legal proceedings, with this in mind don’t be scared to put a ½ dozen hens or a rabbit hutch in your back yard, hell if you have a good sized yard try some miniature goats. Be mindful to raise them in extra clean conditions so smell won't bother the neighbors and so no one gets the Humane Society involved. Some municipalities in the U.S. are rescinding old rules about small livestock so push the limits and get like minded people to lobby for such changes. In Canada you can join CLUCK, Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Club, a group that is involved in education and legal challenges to anti chicken laws.
There's lots of food around around if you just look for it, be it dandelions found on unsprayed vacant lots or fiddle heads and morels in the forest, you just have to put the effort in to find it. In the local green belt near my home I know I can find choke cherries for wine or jelly, crab apples for canning or jelly, sumac for fake lemonade, and morels and that’s without having any expert knowledge or having spend any amount of time actually looking. There is always something edible around if you look hard enough which brings us to the “I’m not that desperate yet” behavior of the Freegan.
The Freegan is someone who salvages edible food from the garbage. “Freegan” was originally used as a label for anti consumerism activists outraged at the 25-30% level of western food waste. These activists began to eat salvaged food from dumpsters to lower their ecological footprint and their participation in the normal consumer model. If you look around there are web sites, meet up groups and probably facebook pages dedicated to Freegan activates. While some people do this as political statement are also many people with more basic motivations like starvation who have been forced to eat this way, certainly a sad commentary on our society.
While I don’t suggest you go out and root in the garbage behind the Lowblaws or the Piggly Wiggly tonight (unless you are really desperate), there should be some procedure to intercept and utilize this food before it gets dumped like this. High quality produce or stuff set to expire the next day should be sent to shelters or food banks for immediate consumption, lower quality produce should be shipped to local farmers for animal feed and the real rotten stuff sent to composting facilities rather than the dump. Fear of litigation is scaring some retailers from donating food, even for livestock. You might however convince them its for your composter or worm farm.
We should all lobby companies to be compassionate rather than wasteful with damaged foods and we should lobby that governments alter any laws that make being responsible hard for companies.
The final scrounging pointer is to look for a gleening program. I was quite surprised to find that the York Region Food Network runs a gleening program where you can register and get notifications throughout the growing season as various participating farmers allow people to wander their fields and harvest produce that is either surplus, not of salable quality or simply was missed by mechanical harvesters. This program allows the salvage of tonnes of food for those willing to work and with no veggies left to rot in the field the quantity of harmful insects, fungus and disease in the soil for the next year’s crop is reduced. While you may end up with far too much of one item to use in a timely manner you gain the opportunity take up canning on the cheap, stock a root cellar or share with others.
Damn these posts are getting long
Embracing the Doom: What kind of doomer am I?
Embracing the doom pt 2: How doomy How soon?
Top doomer accessories
Renewal in Canning and Stealth Doomers
Being your own Seed Bank
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