Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The link below is a story that went out in the Albuquerque Journal today regarding the team of Oklahoma National Guard troops (that will be heading to Afghanistan) that took the Permaculture certification course I am enrolled in. The standard course is split up in to three 5-day sessions spread out over a few months, culminating in certification. I have thus far completed the first 5 days. Since the troops couldn't take that much time to complete the 15-day course, they stayed in Española (an hour north of Santa Fe...for those of you not familiar with New Mexico) to complete the training in one fell swoop. The troops are getting a course that is tailored to the possible needs, and many of the existing skills, of the people they will be working with in Afghanistan. Something that stood out was the intense focus on utilizing the knowledge and skills of the Afghani people they will be working with, as opposed to imposing American methods and objectives.
I wanted to share this story because few people are aware of the work that the National Guard Agriculture Development Teams are doing, and will continue to do, abroad. And the fact that a team is now learning Permaculture is a huge leap forward for the military.
The Abq Journal Article:
An article via Santa Fe New Mexican:
Another article via Southwest Farm Press:
The National Guard Agriculture Development Team website:
If you would like to know more about the Permaculture course I am taking:
If anyone is interested in seeing my photos from the course:
Monday, May 24, 2010
"In the veggie burger-versus-beef burger throwdown, a new study suggests that meat wins the prize for environmental sustainability. A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund and conducted by the UK's Cranfield University examined how vegetarian and carnivorous diets affect the environment. Researchers found that overall, meat-eaters produce less of a carbon footprint than those who only consume meat-free products. The study counters the recently popular claim that adopting a vegetarian diet decreases greenhouse gas emissions.
And that's certainly a big claim to refute. According to the EPA, livestock produce about 28 percent of the world's methane emissions. Raising animals for human consumption also requires a ton of resources, particularly water and feed. Plus, when not properly handled, animal waste can pollute ground and water supplies. Add some producers' penchant for using antibiotics and growth hormones in their animals, and it's easy to see why so many folks adopt a plant-based diet.
Still, the study brings up some really interesting points. For one, researchers show that most foods serving as meat substitutes (like soy, lentils, and chickpeas) come from overseas. In other nations (particularly developing ones), laws protecting forests from being converted to farmland are more lax than those in the UK. Clear-cutting forests to create plantations emits greenhouse gases, as does shipping these agricultural products to other countries. Plus, if more and more folks do adopt vegetarian diets, it could kill the UK's meat industry, meaning meat production would move overseas. The same deforestation problem could occur in this instance. Finally, many meat substitutes (think soy 'chicken' patties and tofu) are heavily processed, meaning they require much more energy to produce than meat products. While this study takes a UK-centric view, these points easily apply to other developed nations.
I'm admittedly on the fence on this issue. On the one hand, it's true that many vegetarian products are imported and heavily processed. And when you look at the chemicals many vegetarian items contain, they're not always so healthy. Still, factory farms and the meat industry have a dirty history. Seems like sustainable foodies are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to dietary choices.
Personally, I think adopting an environmentally friendly diet requires a few strategies, and they've got nothing to do with whether one eats meat or not. For one, stick to locally produced items, preferably within 100 miles of your home—that cuts back on emissions associated with shipping and transportation. Secondly, source products (meat or otherwise) from organic farms or producers you know use sustainable practices. Those are the only places that guarantee food will be raised humanely and won't contain chemical pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones. Finally, stay away from processed stuff in general. Messing with ingredients to create Frankenfood requires fossil fuels and oftentimes a lot of chemicals.
So what do you think, readers? Does the earth care whether consumers are vegetarians or carnivores?
Friday, May 21, 2010
Our fascination with prefab buildings knows no bounds — but add bamboo to the mix and you’ve really got our attention. These two beautiful houses in Hawaii were recently built using bamboo as the main building material. The total construction time? Two days.
Read the rest of Beautiful Bamboo Living Houses Take Two Days to Buildhttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed