Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chapter 2, page 1: Sustainable living in DC

Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 5:41 PM
Subject: Chapter 2, page 1: Sustainable living in DC

In her 17 May piece for MarketWatch, Carolyn Pritchard said:

"Tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets in January to protest tortilla prices as they soared to their highest levels in a decade as demand for corn... Such fervor is unlikely to sweep the streets of American cities anytime soon," Prichard also quoted Ken Cassman, a professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska. Cassman said: "We're probably going to be abruptly going into a period where supply is much more balanced with demand so that small perturbations can cause a significant impact on food supply."

Hold that thought.

In 1915, the US horse population (for travel and farming) peaked at 25 million horses. 20% of the land was used to feed horses (think ethanol for horses). The US population was 100 million. Roads were muddy and stunk, but we got around and generally we had full bellies. Now there are 300 million residents in the US, many fewer (and larger) farms. Forget about how we'll get around, how will we eat.

This chapter is about attempts in DC to live sustainably, particularly growing food as the perfect storm of climate change, ethanol production's impact on food supply, inflation, and other issues force people to think about food security.

The story begins---

I grew up on a farm, and there has always been a little bit of farmer in me no matter where I lived. Moving to DC, I picked a place where I could cut down a few trees (before the city laws forbade it), get some sun (not as much as I really need), and begin planting. I decided to try to try moving towards a path of sustainable gardening - composting, vermiculture, no pesticides, etc. This took me several years to perfect, so I know the other DC residents -if they have enough sunlight-will not catch onto this sustainable methodology in less time than I did.

And here we are. Our attempt to boost ethanol production is sending food prices through the roof. Shoplifting is up, not for jewelry or property, but for food. People are hungry and angry. Forget the street people shaking cups outside Starbucks, they're eyeing you and asking for a piece of fruit as you leave Safeway.

Compared to others, I have a nice supply of organically grown fruits, vegetables, and berries, but no where near enough for all our needs, and certainly not enough to last through the winter. My kids - formerly pretty picky eaters - now give me no grief about eating their vegetables. They're helping me cultivate and harvest. And believe it or not, the perennial thieves are still here and even in greater numbers, in DC no less: the deer, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels (rats) and birds. Nobody is thinking seriously of killing any of these critters to eat them, but I do remember the nice taste of venison back on the farm...

by Netizen Hero GreenHornet