Eating Locally

We've been enjoying eating the bounty from my mom's garden. This naturally leads us to think about the distances food travels to get to the eaters. P & J were talking about farmers they know in the Santa Cruz area who leave at 1 am to drive to Tahoe to sell at the Farmers Markets there. Then, yesterday, our friend D sent us this interesting article: Living on the Hundred-Mile Diet

These people are trying to limit their eating-at-home food to items grown within one hundred miles of their home, knowing that their European ancestors did it a century ago and the indigenous people did it for centuries. They lost 15 pounds each right away and found that they had to loosen their rules to include wheat grown further away but milled nearby because otherwise they had no staple starch. It's an interesting proposition.

Sunny California

After a spell of 20 or so days in a row over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the valley was enjoying cool and breezy days when we arrived. In Winters, where we visited our dear friends P & J, we were able to walk around in shorts, but we did snuggle under a comforter ("doona" for you Australians) at night. We came to Sebastopol, Sonoma County, on Wednesday, and haven't been out of our corduroys since. We've had to borrow sweatshirts and we've slept under two comforters, one of them down! Turns out Sonoma County has been unusually cool all summer. Anyway, it's been very strange to be shivering in our jackets in daylight in summertime in California!
Here are P & J at the garden J grows.

More Global Impact Thoughts

Justin and I were just talking again about so-called sustainable living and the impact of all the decisions we get to (have to) make on a daily basis, living in an industrialized society.

How many of the things we buy are connected in some way to activities that have caused rapid urbanization and ecological devastation? What's the history of the sponge with which we wipe off the kitchen counter?

I recently added a water delivery system to my garden: black polypipe and a number of small plastic parts that allow water to come out right where I want it to. Okay, the plastics are all from fossil fuels, right? I have no idea what the process of turning petroleum into polypipe is, but I'm guessing it's not a one-step process! Think of the transport all along the way. Yes, I know the same idea has been written about for running shoes, t-shirts, etc., but it still seems useful to think about it in terms of something that I've bought to help conserve water, grow more local food, etc.

Since cities already exist, and since the surface of the planet cannot support everyone going "back" to the land, it seems important to think of urban solutions. What has more global impact? Trucking food into cities, or carting people around within cities (and suburbs)?

What happens when you compare the costs (and I'm not talking about money only, of course) of continuing to consume at current levels and the costs of a sudden disruption of the global economy? Imagine that nothing is being traded between the US and China, for example. Would massive unemployment of the poorest people in both countries result?What environmental effects does an economic recession have?

Here in the Northern Territory, almost everything comes from far away. Even the resources being mined are not being made into anything of immediate local use, that I know of. Back to food (obviously one of my favorite topics): nutrition (and health generally) is notoriously poor out in many indigenous communities (possibly among whites on remote cattle stations as well; I have never heard statistics for them). What is the best solution for people in those communities and for the planet? What is the best theoretical solution and what has the best chance of success?

Just something else to chew on...

Sister Update

I got an email from my sister in Peru, and I'm taking the liberty of posting some of it:

Hello everyone,
Okay, here I am in A-- and it is awesome. Soooooo different from Lima. I´m staying in a hostel-like place but the only people staying there are people involved in the project. Luckily there is this little internet place around the corner but it takes forever to load each little page.

So there is one main street through the town (though I don´t know what criteria is necessary to identify something as a town). All the roads are made of dirt, most of the houses have cement or dirt floors. Each morning I get up around 7 (my roomie wakes me up with her alarm because she has to get all cute before anyone sees her and has a whole freakin cosmetic counter in our room...hmmm. But she´s cool. Most of the people are, but even if they weren´t, I am so down for this kind of work.)

Okay, so we get up early, and this lady, Rosa, comes over and makes breakfast--runny porridge, rolls (mostly the crust, the interior part of the roll is usually close to empty) maybe hard boiled eggs, powdered coffee with canned milk, and fruit. I have actually eaten vegetables and fruit and so far, knock on wood, I've been alright. For dinner it’s a lot of carbs: potatoes, rice, french fries; chickpeas, tomatoes, this kick ass hot sauce called Ahi (I'll bring some back). I have also eaten cuy, that guinea pig-rabbit type animal commonly eaten here, as well as cow heart on a stick (think fair food) at a fiesta. The other night I had lamb, too. In both Lima and here, I got lots of fresh fish, and cebiche is supposed to be the dish the city is famous for.

So more about my days here: After breakfast, we gather our buckets and trowels and things and climb on the back of a truck and ride about 45 minutes out into the desert where there are all sorts of archaeological surprises. I can´t believe it. A lot of the burials have been looted so there are human body parts sticking out of the sand like a fake set for a movie or something. It´s unbelievable and so damn exhilarating. The other day in my unit, we found a human skull but we can't take it out and that part is so hard. We have to dig all around it and document each thing we find and then the last thing we do is take it out. It´s so freakin awesome. I am burnt and dirty and tired at the end of each day, but luckily we have showers (cold) and a bar right down the street. I have a good time just talking to people and practicing Spanish. No one on the team except for two people speak any Spanish. Sometimes I am even able to translate for them which of course makes me feel cool.

I am more interested in going out and talking with local people but I feel like it’s a weird episode of survivor. My unit has a sort of alliance because we came in the second part of the project and that kind of separates us from the others. But then there are times when I want to go out on my own, but since they are part of my unit I have to be careful not to let them feel rejected. Then since I always talk to the Peruvian members of the team, I am perceived as more different than my already different group. It’s very complicated and kind of annoying but also interesting. Might be funny to write an anthropological paper on archaeologists trying to come together as a team.

I guess I am kind of put out by some of the attitudes toward the Peruvians. For example, there are 4 or 5 guys who were hired to help unload buckets of sand as we dig. It is not uncommon for people to just say " Marco! Bucket!" and point at their full bucket. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it just seems like the group doesn’t appreciate them as members of the team, only people who speak a different language who have to help us. When I first came out to the site, we stopped for a little snack and the white people were all in one group and the Peruanos were in their own group. I asked this girl how come we don’t all sit together and she said "because they speak Spanish and that’s just the way it is." Other people also refer to them as the "Spanish guys." What?????

Okay, that’s enough from me about this. There are some great people on the team too, but I wouldn’t mind if I worked with a completely different team next year.

But for real, this town is amazing and tiny and friendly and different from anywhere I have ever been. There are skinny black and white cows, cotton fields, barren desert mountains, people walking their donkeys or herding their goats and sheep. There is this one little girl who herds sheep in an area we pass on the way to the site. She wears bright colors and a big hat and she is all by herself wandering with her sheep through the outskirts of town.

Can't you just picture it all? I'm looking forward to the next installment!