Friday, January 11, 2013

Food for Thought by Dan Machek

It was a particular lecture by one of my wildlife professors at Humboldt State University, that spurred me to take a hard look at what food I decided to eat and how it affected wildlife, ecosystems, and ultimately our world as a whole. He mentioned an interesting point that in terms of protein, it takes more land to produce the equivalent amount of animal protein than it does to grow the same amount of vegetable protein. Bottom line: there would be less land consumption and healthier ecosystems if America backed off of their overly-consumptive portions of meat and relied more heavily on vegetable proteins and smaller portions of meat. This fact really hit home for me. As a kid growing up in Elk Grove, California, I watched field after field of wide open land converted to shopping malls and subdivisions. At one point in the early 2000’s Elk Grove was the fastest growing city in the nation. The concept of land consumption was and is very real to me. Those expansive fields represented freedom, learning, and imagination. I quickly realized that at the rate humans were consuming resources, there wouldn’t be much land left for my children to experience the deep connection with nature I was able to develop. It was very apparent that land consumption had the potential to be a very negative, destructive thing.  

Colter at Hunter Orchards Organic Farm in Grenada, CA.

My professor had also mentioned that as folks in the field of wildlife, if we are espousing to the world that we need to care about the well-being of wildlife and ecosystems, then our life decisions (such as our choice in food) ought to reflect the moral axioms of our career. Practice what you preach, basically. Listening to that lecture inspired me to do my own research into how my choices in food affected the well-being of the planet, and I quickly realized how industrialized agriculture is compromising ecosystems and our health. Through my research, I have come to realize that one of the largest ways we can help reduce our negative impact on the planet and positively impact our personal health is through our choice in food. The reason being, there are massive amounts of energy required to grow, maintain, and transport food to our tables, especially when we are talking about large-scale industrialized agriculture. Full disclosure, this extensive research into the practices of this type of agriculture led me to be a full on vegetarian for six years; however, I am on occasion eating organic or otherwise environmentally conscious raised meat. That is what I try to talk to people about, not stressing out about being a vegetarian, but rather practicing moderation and being aware that our choice in food has profound personal and environmental impacts. I wanted to talk about the impact of our choice in food first because I personally believe this is the most available way for people to reduce our negative impacts on the local and global scale. One of the goals of intentional living is to eventually turn food production and consumption into a process that benefits the planet and our personal health. 

Colter next to the Mini-bell peppers and rosemary.
I’ve laid out some subject matters that I think are of dire importance and that we will most surely talk about again. In writing this, I realized I am taking on a little more at one time than is appropriate for a post. So here is the outline of what you can expect from future blog posts. We will definitely cover the importance of eating organic foods, since all foods fall under the umbrella of either organically produced or conventionally produced. In our following posts we will talk about the choice of eating meat and other animal products. We will also talk about some of the positive things our family is doing to help reduce our consumptive footprint and benefit the ecosystems around us through food production and consumption. So here is the trailhead to the path we have chosen to living with ever increasing positive intention. Come and join in on the journey!

Organic vs. Conventional and GMO foods-
-Integrated pest management vs. pesticides
-Organic vs. inorganic fertilizer
-Biodynamic vs. monoculture
-Energy input
-GMOs and associated agricultural practices
-Our ultimate ideal: eating local and growing our own food. 
I will outline some of the organic gardening projects we have in the works for this next season.

Colter in front of the Hugelkulture garden bed in process.

Animal Products-
-USDA beef: is it really raised in the U.S?
-Rasputin chicken: a daily dose of arsenic with your breakfast, you say?
-Raising meat uses more land for equivalent amount of vegetable protein.
-Water use and impact on watersheds
-Hormones and antibiotics
-Our ultimate ideal: raising, hunting/catching, and processing our own meat. I will show you the Machek family secret on how to brine and smoke your own Salmon! We are also going to be raising our own chickens for eggs coming up in the spring.

Sacramento River 33lb Chinook Salmon

 Growing, raising, and processing your own food -
-It is possible to turn food production and consumption into a process that benefits the planet and our personal health.
-You are what you eat: having a connection with your food, knowing what it ate, what you are eating, and what you are becoming.
 -These are good eating habits for your own personal health, the health of our communities, and the health of our planet. 

Too bad our gov't isn't putting out this kind of propaganda anymore.

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