Friday, December 29, 2006

I think we can all agree that garden fresh tomatoes taste better than supermarket tomatoes

Let's say that you are a person who eats food. Oh, you are? Well, then, this commentary may actually be meaningful for you. Excellent.

Now, let's say that you, like a vast majority of Americans, purchase primarily conventionally produced & delivered food products (ie. not organic or locally produced). You're in good company as this segment of the food market constitutes about 98% of total food purchases in the US.

Finally, let us say that 40+% (Lord knows it's probably more) of the conventionally produced & delivered food products that you buy are brought to you by just four megolithic, multinational corporations (MMCs) & their complimentary minion subsidiaries. Well, they like to call them their "families of businesses" which of course sounds very "warm" & "fuzzy" but as you may know I am no marketer for The Man.

Now, it makes sense to me that these corporations would be guarding our food system & the productivity of the land in the interest of the long-term profitability of their own companies if for no other reason. BUT NO! What they seem to be doing is just the opposite - exploiting to the fullest & fiercest extent the fertility of the land including the labor of its people (farmers & farm workers), those people themselves, & the consumers of its products (you & me & everyone we know) for short-term profit. They are accomplishing this by such market-cornering means as patenting lifeforms, creating closed loop systems for their own toxic chemicals & genetically proprietary seeds, & using scare tactics against farmers who operate outside of the neo-serfdom that they promote. As a food consumer just trying to eat well & feel secure in the safety & long-term viability of the food system upon which my loved ones, neighbors & I rely, I gotta say, "Ouch!" Does this way of doing business make sense to anyone? I mean, is this how YOU would (or currently do) operate your business?

Ish! Enough already of this whining about what is completely fucked about our food system. (However, I do think that it would be o'so nice if people were more aware of this when selecting their afternoon snacks 'n such. As in, "This apple here comes from a system that is FUCKED. Therefore, I will choose this organic apple grown by Farmer Don down the way.") What are better options? Does it sound good to anyone else to support food production that promotes land stewardship, supports small farmers (i.e. real people), enhances the natural fertility of the land & is not an all-around bummer (OH, such a complete bummer)? Yeah? All right, then, get with this....

What we choose to buy does matter. If no one chooses to buy goods from the people who are caring for our world, there will be no more goods produced in this way. Sad, right? Likewise, if no one chooses to buy goods from the corporations that are using & abusing our world, there will be no more goods produced in this way. Dig?

I personally find this to be an axiom most starkly important when choosing food. With what other earthly objects do we have a more intimate & dependent relationship? Food is meant to nourish us, to give us strength, to keep us healthy. Food is a focal point of families, love affairs & entire cultures. Good food inspires love, heals ills, & makes our parties more fun by acting as a social lubricant! In short, food is AWESOME!

So just think about it. Think about buying whole foods rather than processed foods. Think about buying organically grown, local produce. Think about buying it directly from the farmers who grow it for you. Think about visiting their farm & hearing their story of the land.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cali photos!

Yay! I finally remembered that my new computer has a slot that takes digital media cards so I don't even need that stinkin' USB cord for my camera ever again! Enjoy....

Got a parking ticket right off the bat on one my first forays into Santa Rosa. Nuts.... Good thing Snax was there to comfort me.

Ew. Road injury. Yep, that was me tumbling over suitcases with a pan o' cat litter in hand in the parking lot of the Motel 6 in Elko, Nevada. Although it smarted real bad, I hope that someone saw it because I'm certain that it was hilarious. You may also note my up-flushing toilet in the background. I think Paul's name for it is a better description however: the Poop Grinder. Apparently, the "grinding" of the poo, paper, etc. makes the waste break down more easily in the septic system. Neat!

My apartment is totally fantastic. For one thing, having a loft makes me feel like I'm in an '80s sit-com which is a feeling for which I've always strived. That skylight is brand new. The long pole you see is supposed to be for operating it but I use it to turn off the light when I'm in the loft. Ain't I clever!

Naturally, the cats adore the loft too seeing as how they are now able to look down on the world. (Don't tell them that there is more to the world than this. The last thing I need is a mutiny.) Note also the cat door which is covered by a paper bag (minimalist environment) due to the ill-nature of Leo the Tomcat (aka. Leo the Landcat) who lives outside & periodically stops by to harrass the occupants here. Bastard.

This is the view from my window. It is AWESOME! Birds love to hang out all around out here. If I had walked out to the street to take this photo, you would see Mt. Helena in the near distance.

I went hiking around on the nature preserve behind the house & appreciated what I saw there including the enormous piles of crap that were everywhere. What deposited them? I later found it that it was just steers - just plain old steers. Boo.

Don't get upset, Midwesterners, but this is my winter photo. Things are just starting to grow here. There is periwinkle flowering outside my window & some kind of bulb is just about to toss up two blossoms as well.
You will not hear me complain.

Table for one? The Lagunitas IPA from nearby Petaluma went well with this delicious batch of chili that I made from scratch. The beautiful handmade bowls are a housewarming gift from a guest that I had recently. How sweet.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

nature calling

So I'm waiting here at home for my landlady to meet me outside (she lives 30 feet away) when she calls me up to tell me, "Change in plans.... Nature has called me urgently & I don't know how long I'll be. Can I just knock on your door in a few minutes?" Nature has called her urgently? What on earth? Did she seriously just tell me that she has to take a shit? Wow...California....

another great quote to live by

"I believe it to be perfectly possible for an individual to adopt the way of life of the future...without having to wait for others to do so." - Mohandas Gandhi

Thursday, December 14, 2006

persimmons & monkeys as soul-trajectory affirmations

One night before leaving Minneapolis to move here to Santa Rosa, California I had a dream of persimmons. They were boxed in the same lovely way that you'd see them at a food co-op or a farmers' market. A hand-crafted sign posted on the box colorfully warned the would-be buyers that if they should be allergic to monkeys, their tongue should not know the taste of this tomatoesqe fruit. Why? We don't know. But I can tell you this. Upon my first visit to Santa Rosa's charming worker-owned, vegetarian natural foods store, I was astonished to find the persimmons accompanied by a monkey - a little stuffed monkey probably dropped nearby by a child & placed there for easy retrieval. Some would not see it so but I determined this to mean that I am on the right path. I expect other humorous & moving affirmations in the near future. So fear not, dear-hearted worriers! That intangible element of our surroundings that seems to care for us has indeed wrapped its ever-lovin' arms around me.

It has been one week since I arrived here in my new home. So far, so good.... My fantastic, fun & supportive friend Paul helped me drive out with whatever I could fit in my car including Daphne & Snax. The cats traveled exceptionally well - so well, in fact, that we're planning a road trip to Vancouver for next summer. Snax loves the international flavor of the city.

When we arrived, my landlords - a 60-ish couple - gave us a warm greeting which included homemade, organic, vegetarian soups. Yum! Juliette is a vegetarian chef who makes & freezes meals as well as caters events. George is a tilesetter who built the lovely kitchen counter & bar upon which I am now typing.

The apartment is great. It's a roomy studio cottage with a loft for the mattress that I will buy (hopefully before I can't stand sleeping on the floor anymore). Outside my window I look out over hills & trees & birds. I heard frogs last night which I'm guessing will be more active come spring. To get to my place one must drive up narrow & winding roads past overdone inflatable Xmas displays, succulents & a vineyard. When I turn off the lights to crawl into my sleeping bag at night, it is blacker than black. Good thing I grew up in the country where I could develop my night vision & my companionship with the dark.

As for the weather, the rain has been hanging around since I got here but I do see sun in the forecast. I am looking forward to that as the dreary atmosphere does not much help the feeling of loneliness that can come over a person in a new place. I already miss Minnesota & everyone there - & one fine fellow in particular. Hey, everyone, it's pretty here! Come drink some wine, drive on very curvy roads & eat delicious dinners cooked by me....

Today, I was determined to find a friendly coffee shop in which to begin my school reading. Success was mine! A'Roma Roasters is a charming, woman-owned business just a block from New College. I think I'm figuring out that the west is the best when it comes to Santa Rosa. It seems like most of the cool stuff & cheaper gas is on the west side of Highway 101. Of course, there is also a SCARY looking Chinese restaurant but I'm going to really try not to judge that book by its cover. On the other hand, I don't want to judge it by its indigestion either. I'll stick to the home cookin'.

As for the school reading, why, it was just marvelous! You see, The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture is just such a text as I might assign to myself to read. Yes, that is really how much of a sustainability dork that I am - or rather how much of a passionate person that I am according to my sweet & thoughtful brother. This is gonna be fun!

I sincerely wanted to post some photos here tonight but, regretably, I forgot to bring the proper cord with the first round of stuff. Come January the rest of my belongings will arrive in Eli's bread truck where they will have been subjected to several days of heavy vibrations & biodiesel fumes (I hear that they are cleansing...?). Then, I'll have a couch & all my cooking supplies. I can't wait!