My Green City Life

Local News: Kyoto
November 29, 2007, 9:46 am
Filed under: local news

It makes me happy to see that even if the two North American countries that can claim my tax money aren’t playing nice with the Kyoto Protocol, at least the province where I currently make my home is using its usual MO of rebuking what the federal government has to say — this time for a good cause. Read more from the CBC.


Saving the world makes financial sense!
November 16, 2007, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sometimes putting “green” actions in the context of saving money really gets my goat. I realize that a politically-charged topic such as environmentalism often needs a date with a spin doctor to make it palatable to the average North American Joe, especially since “going green” often means making substantial changes to your everyday life. But sometimes I just want things told the way they really are without having to look at it from pleasing angles.

Yesterday’s edition of The Daily Green (an e-newsletter that calls itself “the consumer’s guide to the green revolution”) there was a small advice tidbit that read as follows: “Walk Up Instead of Drive Thru: Every time you use a drive-through, you burn about 18 cents worth of gas idling your car.” My proverbial goat was gotten. There are a lot of environmentally-focused reasons why walking up to a fast food joint is better for the environment than driving through. Why appeal to my wallet first and foremost? Upon reading the rest of the article, I found that The Daily Green folks are capable of making an environmentally-focused case for avoiding drive-throughs. Why couldn’t they have included any of those arguments in the teaser in their e-newsletter?

Unfortunately, I already know the answer to that question, and it has to do with our consumer culture, as well as the copywriters being told to emphasize the positive (saving money) rather than the negative (fuel waste and smog). I’d just like a dose of reality once and a while.

Word of the Year: Must be important
November 14, 2007, 9:47 am
Filed under: your green lifestyle

Yesterday a friend let me in on the news that locavore is The New American Oxford Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year. Their description states

The “locavore” movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locavores also shun supermarket offerings as an environmentally friendly measure, since shipping food over long distances often requires more fuel for transportation.

About an hour after receiving this email, I was reading Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and came across this passage:

We consumers of the affluent West have come to take for granted a constant flow of pleasure-gratifying products from faraway lands, at great cost of precious resources such as fossil fuels (for shipping), land (which could be used to grow real food to feed people), labor (which would be better directed toward local needs), and global biodiversity. Globalized markets amount to cultural decadence. Decadence (from the word “decay”) is unsustainability: behavior likely to contribute to biological or social decline or collapse.

He is talking about more decadent items such as chocolate and coffee, which come from countries where all land is devoted to producing these “cash crops” for export, and people end up starving because they have no food. However, I think the same general argument can be made for monocultures on our own continent, such as the acres upon acres of corn and soybeans in the midwestern US. Eating locally encourages a variety of locally grown food.

On the Amazon listing for the aforementioned _Wild Fermentation_ the author has this to say:

“Sustainability is Participation” is my current motto. Our food system, in which barely one percent of the people produce food for the other 99% to eat, is producing diseased people, diseased land, diseased animals, and diseased economies. We must break out of the restrictive and infantalizing role of consumer. We are all inherently capable of producing food. More of us must make that a focus in order to create better food choices.

Be a locavore!

November 7, 2007, 12:07 am
Filed under: your green lifestyle

We all have pet peeves, but being the eco-geek that I am, some of my biggest pet peeves have to do with people being environmentally irresponsible. Leaving the water running while brushing one’s teeth comes to mind. Littering always gets me worked up, especially if the offending piece of garbage is a still burning cigarette. Ugh! There’s a way to pollute both land and air at once!

Another one that I find just mind-boggling is driving really short distances when you could just walk. And I mean *really* short distances. For example, one time I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping with some people I didn’t know all that well. We were at one of those very large strip mall places that is made up of a few big box stores in a row — Best Buy, Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond… those sorts of places. We had just left one store, empty-handed and piled back in the SUV (not mine!). The driver turned the car on and as it idled, climate control on full blast and stereo pumping, he and the other passengers decided we should hit up another big box store. So we backed out, drove about 200 feet… and pulled into another parking spot. We were just going into the next store over! What?! Why drive??? I couldn’t believe it! I still can’t believe it. Some people, I tell ya… Whew!

So what gets you all worked up?

Homemade Applesauce!
November 1, 2007, 12:23 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

For me, apples are quintessential fall food. They’re beautiful, they’re delicious, and when it starts getting cold outside, I want apples. Apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider, and mmmm… applesauce!

I’ve never made applesauce before this year, and I always assumed it was some complicated, labor-intensive process. But when I called my mom — a woman who *always* cooks straight from the recipe — for her applesauce recipe and she said, “oh, you just cut up some apples, simmer them on the stove, and throw in some spices,” well, I knew I had to try it. And, dear reader, it really is that simple. Applesauce is now permanently on my list of ways to preserve the local harvest, and I’ll be surprised if I ever buy applesauce from the store again!

Here’s how it you do it.

Homemade Applesauce, part 1 of 6
First, get yourself some delicious local apples. While there are apples that are better for baking, juice, and eating I don’t think it really matters what kind you use for applesauce. I like to use more than one variety for a more complex flavor. 😉 The general guide is that three pounds of apples will make one quart of applesauce.

Homemade Applesauce, part 2 of 6
Next, peel, core and cut up all your apples. Peeling isn’t necessary if you don’t mind bits of peel in your sauce. One of these contraptions comes in really handy at this point. It peels, cores, and slices your apples for you! It works best with symmetrical, firm fruit. Unfortunately, the apples I bought were “second rate” so they weren’t getting along very well with the peeling machine.

Homemade Applesauce, part 3 of 6
Once all the apples are peeled, cored, and cut, stick them in a pot on the stove and turn on the heat! You’ll want to stir them often at the beginning to distribute the heat throughout all the apples. Soon they will begin breaking down and getting mushy. This is where the “recipe” gets vague. Basically, your goal is to cook the apples down into mush (applesauce). You may or may not need to add extra liquid (water, apple juice). I only added about a half cup for a six-pound batch. Depending on your taste preferences, you may or may not want to add sugar (white, brown, maple) and spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger). This is really a “taste and see” sort of thing.

Homemade Applesauce, part 4 of 6
Regardless of what additional ingredients you do or do not add, after 10 to 20 minutes of simmering, your apples will start to look like this. Let them simmer until they are mashable. Then mash them until you are happy with the texture. I used an inversion blender for a smoother blend. A food processor also works well, but be cautious of the steam. Your kitchen will be smelling wonderful at this point!

Homemade Applesauce, part 5 of 6
Finally, can it up. Applesauce freezes beautifully. I chose to can mine in a water bath canner: 15 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts at sea level.

Homemade Applesauce, part 6 of 6
Et voila! Applesauce!