I found this video and it got me thinking, what if we here in America had laws and the politicians thinking this way. The other really good point this video brings up is with all the concerns about being eco-friendly, sustainable and peak oil, it can get overwhelming. In a way it doesn’t matter whether or not peak oil is happening, whether there is such thing as global warming, we should be taking on the goals of sustainability for a plethora of reasons.
Recently I have moved the chicks, who are now all grown up, to their new home in the coop I built. The first day was an adjustment for them because it was soooo hot outside, but they are doing well and seem very happy.
As I take a look at things when it comes to consumption and waste, one area that stands out is food packaging. While I am not sure I am ready to give up my toilet paper (even though it is 100% recycled) food packaging is an area that I could do without. Here is a neat concept for a quick deploy bulk food store. You have to bring or purchase reusable containers to get all your items, since it is all in bulk, it stands to reason that it could be done a bit cheaper too.
So I have been kicking around this idea for a week or two now and it certainly isn’t a entirely new concept, but it is the concept that by taking actions on the green front, will actually enhance our security. Now before we get into this, I would like to steer clear of political aspect of this discussion, with the side note those who focus on Green initiatives are sometimes seen as the polar opposites to those who focus on National Security. I think many would disagree with this view and those who didn’t could be brought to the table and see both sides. The other thing that I would assert is that this concept isn’t exclusive to America, I speak generally about the world. So here are a few examples of the threats I see and their solutions.
To expand on what I consider national security I think it is important to note that national security extends beyond terrorism and nuclear armaments. It includes anything from any source that can threaten our safety, well being and long term livability. This includes drought, blight, natural disaster, war, terrorism, etc.
If you have ever seen the documentary Food Inc. (which I highly recommend) talks about how 90% of the corn and 60% of all soy beans come from one company that are one strain. This means that a blight, whether engineered or natural, were to hit our country, we would loose 90% of all our corn in one fell swoop. This is pretty concerning when you truly understand how much of our food comes form corn and in really unexpected forms. If you look at how many individual strains of food we actually grow for the majority of our food, we are talking 22 types of plants with a specific strain make up 80% of our food. Can we afford to lose 80% of our food?
So how to fix it. We first need to encourage a larger diversity of plants, the idea being that some blights will effect some strains of plants and not others. We then need to decentralize our food production, moving food production closer to the people. This will take time, money and in all honesty could turn out to be more expensive as economies of scale decreases, but we also need to put a price on sleeping soundly at night.
I don’t think it takes any stretch of the imagination to see how us depending on other countries for oil is a bad thing. Especially when you consider that most sources of this oil are in politically unstable areas. One thing we see as an option is to drill off shore, which as of late, we have seen how bad that has turned out to be. The fact is that there may be a large volume of oil out there, but it is still a finite resource and it is getting harder and harder to get to. With increased difficulty comes increased risk and while innovations can mitigate those risks, I am still left doubting it.
So the solution, I say save what we have in our country and lets focus on sustainable technologies. While people talk about nuclear, I have to remind them of the heavy subsidies they get every year. Nuclear is a pretty mature technology, I assert that if we took these subsidies and used them to develop solar/wind into mature technologies that we could come out on top. The added benefit to this is that we can then decentralize power production to avoid 50 well place bombs to take out most of our power production.
To sum up I think that we are beginning to see how Green is better for everyone in many ways. I found this video done by Pew which is pretty interesting.
1. Canned Tomatoes
The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A
The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”
The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.
2. Corn-Fed Beef
The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming
The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.
The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.
3. Microwave Popcorn
The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,
The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporizeâ€”and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.
The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.
4. Nonorganic Potatoes
The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board
The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoesâ€”the nation’s most popular vegetableâ€”they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”