Having a positive effect on climate, is not the reason I made these changes in my life. So yes, a bit of the old bait and switch here. I made them because I wanted more pleasure incorporated into my daily grind. Having a positive effect on my ecological footprint, was the icing on the very tasty cake my life has become through growing a good portion of my own food. But for Blog Action Day ’09 I will re-frame my reasons in climate terms.
And with no further ado, my list.
1. Distance to plate.
There has been a bit of confusion added to the discussion lately about locavore eating strategies actually being a negative if the only measure is distance to plate, that food miles are actually increased. Of course, distance to plate is only one of about 100 reasons being a locavore makes sense. Depending on how you access the growers in your food shed, what you use to get to where your veg is, it all depends on quite a few variables in your own life, your city’s infrastructure, your community…The arguments I have seen are very strangely skewed in ways that I will save for another post.
However, you cannot convince me that an efficiently delivered but tasteless tomato from 2000 miles away is a winner no matter which way you slice it. The distance to my plate is about 10 feet, because I grow my own mouth watering fresh vegetables.
Growing my own heirlooms is much cheaper than buying them by the pound. They don’t travel well. So you can’t really get this unless you do it yourself or get to know a very local grower, at least on my limited budget. Life must be worth living or why save anything… yourself…the planet…Who cares if everything tastes like cardboard? Kill me now!
Before you call me an elitist, please note I live on very little money per year. We all have choices and priorities to make. These are mine.
2. When I am gardening I’m not watching TV, using the computer or game station.
Though some gardeners use some plug in tools, most of the time I am using my human power and a hand tool. Don’t get me wrong. I love my computer, my Battlestar Gallactica, Glee and So You Think You Can Dance as much as the next boob tube addict. Still, I do less of these energy intensive activities now that I have a gorgeous garden to tend. My garden feeds me and my spirit in return for my attention and time in a way that no toy can.
3. Factory meat is grown in a factory-like setting which, is generally a semi automated system dependent on cheap oil.
Though there are a few farmers out there that are closing the loop with methane powered energy storage systems, and I salute them, they are in minority. Maybe someday these systems will become the norm.
A back yard chicken coop doesn’t use electricity for much at all, unless you live in a place with four seasons and need a heater. I don’t have my own flock yet, but I am definitely thinking about it. There are a lot of climate related reasons to forgo meat, but for me the jury is still out – however I do need the manure!
4. Efficient though oil dependant food systems constantly shed and de-skill workers while at the same time suck more from the energy grid to replace them with expensive machinery.
I’m not a Luddite, nor am I anti-efficiency or anti-science. But I do question the wisdom of creating a world where so few of us have profitable meaningful work. There are nearly 7 billion people on the planet, only a small number of us have good work. Localizing means that much more needs to be created and distributed locally. The crafts of bread making, beer making, wine making, honey making, guitar making, candy making, soap making and vegetable growing are having a resurgence. Some of us know the price of food is tied intimately to the price of oil, and oil in the long run has no where to go but up. Localizing goes a long way to help many issues, including the cost of food, re-skilling a de-skilled work force and keeping money in the hands of people in our communities.
A localized economy doesn’t ship in goods from halfway around the planet unless absolutely necessary, like coffee, otherwise known as “my dark master.”
5. Growing my own vegetables means I am likely to eat a lot more of them.
Eating meat regularly has a higher impact than driving an SUV. I’m not a strict vegetarian, but I do eat less meat now that I have a productive garden. Having a super fresh garden 10 feet away means easy means I don’t have to think much about it – just walk outside, see what’s ripe and pick my dinner. When I was living in NYC and eating out a lot, the easiest thing was to simply pick what was immediately appealing, which for me usually involved meat- which I used like a reward for a harried day. Again, your mileage may vary.
6. Growing my own and having a decent pantry means I go to the grocery store about once a month.
Once a month? Yup. I do sometimes have to make a trip for things I have forgotten, but that’s my error. I’m getting a lot better at keeping a full pantry and making good lists. A full pantry means that whipping something up from the yard is not at all taxing. To make full use of a great garden you need a well stocked pantry.
Being conscious of simple strategies like building a real pantry and making lists mean that I don’t have to put a lot of energy into feeding me and mine. I do know that all of our lives are different. And this may not be a choice you make, but I’m on the other side of eating out all the time – and I am really enjoying myself doing things very differently.
To get into the cooking groove check out these fantastic sites:
- foodgawker.com – feast your eyes…
- rouxbe.com – don’t know how to do something in your cookbook?
7. I am fitter now that I am growing my own.
Benefits beyond feeling better about my climate impact include being much fitter, less depressed, having better skin and feeling generally more resilient and capable in my life.
Being fit means that my moods are even. I am less inclined to look for things to distract me from the general state of anxiety I experienced when working for a corporation and being handsomely rewarded. The hidden cost of my higher pay check was a great deal more anxiety and stress brought on by long commutes, expensive dress codes, unrelenting deadlines aimed towards goals that were not my own.
I know now if I start to feel anxious, a rarity, I have a bunch of weeds that need pulling. Pulling weeds, tending a garden in general beats any anti-anxiety strategy I have tried.
So what is the climate connection? Glad you asked! Things I used to distract myself with were shopping for hours for crap I didn’t need wandering the mall in a fugue state ‘relaxing’, driving hither and yon for bargains to ‘save money’ while paying what 18% on a credit card, taking a lot of looong weekend ‘get aways.’ Sound familiar?
Because I am where I want to be in my life, I do all of these a lot less. I am quite content now, and that itself has a huge climate impact. The open road beckons, but it does so in a whisper rather than a yell.
8. I cook my own meals much more often at home.
I’m re-skilling myself, in the kitchen, a direct result of having a flood of produce to handle and cooking a lot at once, means I do not buy many highly processed, plastic wrapped, small serving, factory made, well traveled meals these days. And no, you cannot convince me it is ‘food’ now that I’ve gotten used to the real thing. I prefer my tomato sauce over store bought any day. Does that make me an elite foodie? How can it when I am spending far less on far better tasting food?
I do understand that many of us are living under serious time constraints and pressures. And I certainly do not intend that this should be seen as an argument for the re-domestication of the American female. Real food skills make everyone sexier, men too.
9. I waste far less food.
“Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion.”
-From Wasted Food
That’s 100 billion, with a B. A shocking number. We are getting far too used to numbers that should shock us. If I grew it, you can be sure I am not going to waste it. I watched it grow sometimes for months! We may take other people’s labor for granted but we rarely take our own for granted. How much food do you see wasted in a week…take a look around. That means that all the energy put into growing it was wasted too.
10. I don’t use petrochemicals to grow my own food.
The list of products and strategies for growing your own luscious fruit and veg without petroleum and other petroleum dependent chemicals is very long now. Sustainable agriculture has been proven to be more efficient per hectare than industrial agriculture.
Now you might be inclined to attack any one of these points. Feel free. I may be moved, but remember, I made these changes so that I would enjoy my life more not to save the planet from catastrophic climate shifts. Are you a climate skeptic? I could care less. Please take that argument elsewhere. I am over it. I am interested if you are a ‘tasty food skeptic’ because that would be weird and interesting. Tastiness, just another liberal plot…
If I am really honest, my immediate quality of life is more important to me than the rather abstract “massive climate disruption.” Probably true for most of you too. What can I say? I am, at base, a person who grew up loving fast cars, burgers and fries, road trips, fireworks and instant gratification… you know, an American.
My instant gratifications have simply shifted and incidentally I am actually… gratified.
Have no space to grow your own? Consider starting a yard sharing group with folks you know.
10 Reasons Becoming a Hyperlocavore is a Positive Climate Action by Liz McLellan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at hyperlocavore.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/profile/Liz.
Please share this video with any one you know who might be interested in getting yard sharing going in their communities.
I can set you up very quickly! It’s a service your community can have up and running in minutes – for FREE!
twitter me @hyperlocavore
Let’s get growing!
Some folks are taking the yard sharing idea a step further. Meet Kipp Nash of Boulder Colorado, who farms 8 neighbor’s yards as a Community Supported Agriculture operation called Community Roots CSA. In 2009 Kipp Nash and the team at Community Roots are developing a program to directly feed five food insecure families in the Boulder area and are looking for donations in support of this project.
I built Hyperlocavore.com in part to encourage aspiring food growing entrepreneurs like Kipp to consider the serial yard CSA approach. I encourage interested growers to join the site to seek and maintain yard sharing client relationships, share your experiences with other suburban farmers and yard sharing groups. The site is free. Feel free to create wide area groups such as “Seeking Yardshares, Chicago, IL” in order to find farming clients or private groups such as “New Day Suburban Farm,” which would be just the yards which you have linked together in your yard share farm.
Other yard share farmers:
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!
“You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.”
– Michelle Obama on the Whitehouse Vegetable Garden
“hyperlocavore.com,” which blends bottom-up collaboration with food production. It’s an example of peer-to-peer agriculture, and it’s a pretty neat concept. The founder of hyperlocavore wrote to me, saying that she thought this was a pretty “worldchanging” idea. I agree. Check ’em out.”
What is a ‘hyperlocavore’?
A hyperlocavore is a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Growing your own is as local as it gets!
What is ‘yardsharing’?
Yard sharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper!
Why would I want to set up a yardsharing group?
Yard sharing is a way to connect people who love to garden, people who love healthy fresh food and people who have yards! Often people who have yards have little time time for a vegetable garden. And sometimes gardeners have trouble finding soil to garden in because they rent an apartment! Sometimes older people lack stamina and are socially isolated, finding younger people to partner in growing food together works wonderfully for all. There are all kinds of reasons it makes sense.
Yard sharing works for:
- apartment dwellers
- busy parents
- older people
- tree huggers
- cheap bastards
- farmers lacking land
- land holders lacking farmers
- people sick of leaf blowers
- curious kids
- folks with a disability
- people who want to get outside more
- people that want to eat better
- people that want to eat cheaper
- people who want to make their community resilient
- people who like their food super fresh
- people worried about peak oil
- and maybe you! (if you’re not on the list – send me a note!)
Yard sharing cuts down on greenhouse gases by limiting the travel time of fruit and vegetables to your table.
Yard sharing is a great way to connect with your family, friends and neighbors!
Yard sharing helps you eat more veggies!
Yard sharing can be a workable solution for people with physical limitations who want to eat better and more cheaply.
Yard sharing is an excellent way to teach children about food and biology!
Yard sharing is a great way to get cheaper produce to older people on a fixed income!
Yard sharing helps you get enough vitamin D from sunshine!
Yard sharing is a way to avoid pesticides and other chemicals on your food!
Yard sharing is a fun activity to share!
Yard sharing helps to create independent local food systems that are less sensitive to the price of oil.
And nothing tastes as good as food you grew yourself!
Who can yard share?
Anyone! If you don’t see a group for your area just create one! Then send invites to people in your neighborhood, your friends and
their friends and maybe you will find someone willing to start with you!
OK, Sign me up! No! Wait, is it free? Yes? OK, Sign me up!
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!
hyperlocavore.com is a free social network here to help you form a yard sharing group with people in your neighborhood, a group of friends, a community restaurant and it’s neighbors, members of your family, faith communities or new friends made on hyperlocavore.
I just came across a wonderful resource called bookofcooks.com that hooks you up with people who love to cook in your neighborhood.
First a definition, a hyperlocavore tries to eat as much food as close to home as possible, in order to reduce the food miles that his food travels. It is an extension of the term locavore. A locavore typically tries to eat seasonally within 100 miles of her home, to reduce food miles and to develop the local economic base. A hyperlocavore therefore wants to bring food even closer. And what’s closer than your neighborhood? We have a time crunch, we have land and property that is loosing value fast, we have kids who don’t know where their food comes from, and we have a climate crisis.
Hyperlocavore.com, a social network, is here to help facilitate yardsharing. Yardsharing and group growing is new. It’s different from a community garden – but the site (hyperlocavore.com) can be used to create and manage one. A yardshare might be an arrangement between an elderly couple and a young one to grow more food cheaply for both. Or friends who live in an apartment and a friend in the burbs to save money and food miles.
This is a list of the reasons I think group gardens and yardsharing is an idea whose time has come. The links hide some people, websites and imagery that have inspired me to build hyperlocavore.com. Have fun exploring. Every reason is not meant to appeal to everyone. See if just one make sense to you! Then join us to explore the possibilities. The site is free, and you do not need to commit to anything to participate. It’s new to most of us. It’s up to you what makes sense for you and yours. We just hope to inspire and facilitate. If you agree with more than two of these, you just may be a hyperlocavore!
(A note: I’m a North American, citizen of the U.S., so this certainly reflects some of my perspectives and biases. Please contact me if I’ve got something really wrong, I’m happy to discuss any concerns!)
- You want to taste those real tomatoes you’ve heard so much about.
- You want to decrease your reliance on fossil fuels.
- You want to teach your kids where food comes from.
- You want the smell of soil in your nose.
- You want to pick your salad from your porch.
- You want your neighborhood to have positive street life.
- You want to be less isolated.
- You want to build food security into your life.
- You want to get more sun!
- You want to develop some upper arm strength.
- You want a hotter bootie!
- You want to help that nice old man down the block. He works too hard!
- You want your neighborhoods to have cheap access to healing herbs!
- You want to be a farmer but you have no farm.
- You want your high cholesterol to go down!
- You miss the family farm.
- You especially miss the rooster on the family farm.
- You want to lead and not to follow!
- You want to be more independent.
- You want to show em how it’s done!
- You want to walk out the door and eat mangoes!
- You want your children to be sustainably self sufficient.
- You want your children to eat their veggies.
- You want to involve your family in a group activity.
- You can’t live without fresh organic veg, and it seems to be getting too expensive!
- You want to do something with your friends besides drink beer.
- You’ve never been able to find that Hatch chili from where you grew up.
- You want to shorten the distance from farm to plate.
- You have a brown thumb and want to know what that’s all about.
- You have a yard that is full of weeds.
- You want to reduce the chemical load on your body.
- You think the lawn is a sign of all that is wrong with America.
- You hate mowing.
- You know that cute chic down the block is a big freakin’ hippy but you wanna get to know her betta anyway.
- You know that dude down the block is a big freakin’ hippy but you wanna get to know him betta anyway.
- You took Obama’s call to service to heart.
- No one sees your gardening triumphs.
- You want to lessen your ecological footprint.
- You look around and you see your neighborhood dying, and you want to do something.
- You have been blessed and you want to express gratitude.
- You remember what the neighborhood was like when people talked.
- You need to pay it forward.
- You need something to do besides what you been doing.
- You want your food to taste as good as Gordon Ramsey’s.
- You don’t have a farmers’ market near you.
- You can’t get into the local CSA – It filled up fast!
- You work too many hours and need some help in your garden.
- You have physical limitations, and a garden and could use some help.
- You are a former hedge fund manager with a lot of time on your hands now.
- Your kids need to get moving.
- You really need a new set of friends.
- You know it’s the end of the world as we know it, and you want to feel fine.
- You want to quit talking the talk and start walking the walk.
- You want to simplify your life.
- You find no joy in fragging any more.
- You are an exceedingly cheap bastard, and want to save even more cash.
- You are sick of living on Top Ramen.
- Yes we can!
- Si, se puede!
- Chop wood, carry water.
- You’ve been saving seeds, but have no place to plant them.
- You want to surprise your hard working single mom with regular homegrown fruit and vegetables.
- You are unutterably bored, filled with ennui, and about to jump.
- Om, nom, nom, nom.
- You want to live more like the rest of the world.
- You want the suburban wasteland to become juicier.
- You can’t afford the gas to get to the market, and your veggie ride isn’t road ready yet.
- The bodega in your neighborhood doesn’t carry anything but candy, cigarettes, and booze.
- Guerilla gardening just isn’t giving you the thrill it used to…sigh.
- The force is strong with you, little one.
- You are actually serious about this “reliance on foreign oil” thing you keep going on about.
- Better jam.
- Better pie.
- Better chutney.
- Fresh eggs! Like still chicken butt warm fresh.
- You really need to step away from the computer.
- You actually do have a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunshine.
- You’re afraid of the veg your freegan roommate brings home.
- You’ve never actually tasted a fresh vegetable, ditto fruit.
- You decided you didn’t like vegetables when you were 6, you stuck to your guns but you’re a big girl/boy now.
- You are down with the peak oil hypothesis, and want to stop freaking the f$ck out.
- You want to find like minded people and be useful.
- You’ve got a hankerin’ fer something really dirty.
- Your grandmother, who has been dead for 8 years keeps coming back to you in dreams – She reminds you there is an elephant in the root cellar. You want to sleep more soundly.
- You really, really like potlucks.
- You want to grow enough extra to donate to the homeless shelter.
- You take the very long view.
- Your houseplants are telling you to get out and make new friends.
- You’ll be damned if your gonna spend five dollars for a sack of potatoes !
- You think that you are surrounded by ugliness, and you’re right.
- You will simply die if you don’t have a St. Germaine cocktail and the godforsaken town you live in has no reputable supplier of elderflower liqueur. You are therefore, desperate enough to make your own.
- You walk softly but carry a giant gourd.
- You have a lot of stuff, but you feel empty.
- Your country has been embargoed by the rest of the world and you are hungry.
- You want to live the good life, not that one! This one!
- You want to make it easier to cook at home.
- You really want to slow down but don’t know how.
- You want to see this, not this when you go outside.
- The spirit of true community has filled your heart and you want to fill your days differently.
- One word – zucchini.
Join us at hyperlocavore and find or start a yardsharing group in your neighborhood. You don’t have to have a yard to share or a green thumb – This is a learning community.
* OK I admit there are a few repeats. I said the same thing a few different ways… Use the comment to add your own!