Tag Archives: environment

The Climate Change Diet

I’m going on a diet. A Climate Change Diet. An eating regime that not only makes me healthier, but also affects the earth and ecosystem in beneficial ways. If enough of us signed up for the Climate Change Diet or Climate Diet, we might have a positive impact on the global climate crisis.

The Climate Diet differs from other diets in that I won’t be counting calories. I won’t be required to exercise anymore than I already do.  There are no restrictions as far as having to adopt a vegetarian, vegan or paleo diet. After being on the Climate Diet for a few months, I may not look any better in a little black dress, but chances are, I and future generations will continue to have many opportunities to wear that dress!

The Climate Diet is simple. You can do it if you grow your own food or if you purchase all or most of of your groceries from a store.

Here is its only rule:

Do your best to eat food that was grown in a responsible manner by someone who, through their growing methods, increases soil fertility.

That’s it. Buy food from someone who takes care of the soil. If you grow food, take care of your soil. Good land stewards have a direct influence on climate change because their agriculture and grazing methods directly affect the amount of carbon in their soil.

Farmers and ranchers can sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere and put it to beneficial use in soil through managed grazing, no or low till agriculture, cover cropping, composting, mulching and using bio-based fertilizers and soil amendments instead of synthetic toxins that harm soil fertility.

On the Climate Diet, you would most likely buy organically grown food and meat. Synthetic pesticides and herbicides decrease microbial life within the soil. A soil rich with microbes is alive and fertile. These microbes, especially mycorrhizal fungi, can increase the amount of carbon in the soil. Most of the world’s soils are carbon-depleted.  By choosing to eat the Climate Diet way, we are creating the conditions for soil carbon-sequestration to happen!

As an added bonus, when plants are grown in healthy soil, they are usually more nutrient rich, which is good news for our health. Plus, synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers are usually made of fossil fuels which have a devastating impact on our environment and contribute greatly to climate change.

If you eat meat, the Climate Diet means buying grass fed beef and other animal products from a ranch or farm where the animals are grazed in a way that increases grass growth, soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Grasses, especially perennial native grasses can act like big straws sucking carbon out of the air. The carbon can then be stored in the soil for a long time in the grasses’ long tap roots until it is disturbed.  In this type of land management, animal waste, instead of being a pollutant (like it is in crowded feedlots) becomes a natural soil amendment.

Soil Solution Production Still 3

However we do it, increasing soil fertility could be a giant step in reversing climate change.

Let’s adopt the Climate Diet and see what happens… our dietary choices might lead us to a greener, healthier world and a more stable climate.

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Plant The Rain! Brad Lancaster Shows You How

Rainwater harvesting guru Brad Lancaster has a lot to say about water. In his books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volumes 1 and 2 Lancaster writes about the importance of “planting the rain” and shares with readers the many benefits they receive when they learn how to keep their rainwater on site.

In urban environments most rainwater falls onto impervious surfaces. The water runs off quickly, carrying litter and pollutants with it as it flows directly into creeks, rivers and oceans. Why not use this free resource to water your garden or lawn?

The benefits of harvesting rain are many. Rainwater falls from the sky for free. Rainwater doesn’t contain salt and is a natural fertilizer that’s great for plants. When you harvest rain, you help reduce flooding and surface runoff. Keeping your rain in your garden or yard can reduce your water bill.  If you live in an area with little rain, don’t despair. Lancaster harvests over 100,000 gallons yearly (379,000 liters) of rain and runoff in the soil of his 1/8-acre home in Tuscon, AZ.  (12″ or 305 mm of average annual rainfall per year.)

Click here to listen to a Sustainable World Radio interview with Brad.

To learn more, watch this short video with Brad Lancaster on Rainwater Harvesting Basics. 

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February 4, 2013 · 6:05 pm

The REAL Green Revolution In Africa: Permaculture in Zimbabwe

I met with Julious Piti several times during his world tour last summer.  Julious is a Permaculture designer and teacher, organic farmer and conflict facilitator  based in Zimbabwe. Julious has been using Permaculture in Africa to restore the health of both land and community. A founding member of the Chikukwa Ecological Land Trust (CELUCT) and now the Director of PORET (Participatory Organic Research Extension and Training), Julious’ work shows that degraded land can be transformed into verdant productive farms and food forests..  Julious’ new organization PORET supports farmers in dry-land areas and works to address hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.  In 2007, PORET won the Zimbabwe National Environmental Award.

Julious Piti- "Permaculture is gorgeous."

Julious Piti- “Permaculture is gorgeous.”

 

 

 

 

 

Julious also works in conflict resolution and helped develop a handbook called The Three Circles of Knowledge; How to Build Constructive Community Relations by Understanding Conflicts in Rural African Communities.

In this podcast interview, The REAL Green Revolution In Africa  Julious talks about how he has used Permaculture to nourish the health of the land and people in Zimbabwe.

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Down on the Farm with Justin Huhn

Mano Farm is quiet, lush, and beautiful.  It’s also home to All Good Things Organic Seeds,  the only organic seed company in Southern California.  Last month, I met with the farm’s co-founder Justin Huhn to talk about seeds, seed saving, organic farming and plants for my podcast Sustainable World Radio.  Justin took me on a tour of  the farm and shared his knowledge about some of the unusual plants residing there including Czech Lavender, Purple-Throated Mullein, and Korean Licorice Mint.

(photo courtesy of Justin Huhn.)

Justin Huhn- Friend of the Flowers on Mano Farm

We visited the yurt where seeds are dried, fermented, and processed for saving and walked through the medicinal herb garden and food forest. During my visit with Justin, I renewed my admiration for comfrey; it’s  a living fertilizer and friend to trees and soil.  We sang the praises of  the much-maligned Dandelion, a wonderful medicinal herbal medicine and tasty bitter green.  And last, but certainly not least, I learned that you should never harvest Burdock seeds without a wood chipper, lots of dedication, and a hazmat suit.

Click here to listen to A Conversation With Organic Farmer Justin Huhn.

Seed Saver, Organic Farmer

Justin enjoying the bounty of the farm. (photo courtesy of Justin Huhn.)

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The Last of the Non GMO Corn Speaks Out!

I’ve interviewed farmers, scientists, ecologists, and permaculture designers, but until today I’d never interviewed a plant.

A Conversation With Corn

J (Jill Cloutier)-  Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.  Tell me a bit about your background.  Where were you born?

Corn (C)-  My name is as  Zea mays.  I’m a member of the Poaceae family, the grass family.  All cereal grains belong to my family, including wheat, rice, and rye.  I’m an Annual, a monocot, and believed to have been  born in Mexico thousands of years ago.  Like anything that’s been around for a long time,  I’ve had my ups and downs.  For millennia, I roamed the earth. My seeds were saved and passed down from generation to generation.  I was venerate and revered and used as food, fiber and in ceremony.  But, now that  Monsanto’s got a hold of me, I’ll never be the same.

J-  That brings me to the issue that I wanted to talk with you about today.  Genetic modification and the large role that you’ve played in this controversial topic.

C-  I didn’t volunteer for the job.  I never asked to be modified.

J-  What does it mean when something is genetically modified?

C-  It’s a laboratory process where the genes from the DNA of one species are taken out and put into the genes of an unrelated animal or plant.  The genes can be from insects, animals, humans, bacteria, or viruses.

J-  I’ve read that 85% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified.  How do you feel about being one of the most widely genetically modified plants?

C-  At first, my reaction was one of complete and utter despair.  But now, I’m pissed.

J-  Why?  What happens when you are genetically modified?

C-  This gets a little personal, but basically it can happen in a number of ways, genes can be shot from a gene gun into a plate of cells.  Or bacteria are used to invade cells with foreign DNA.  The changed cell is cloned into a plant.  Most commonly, a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis  is injected in me, so I secrete an insecticide that kills corn root worm pests.

J-  I have no idea what that means, but it sounds terrible.

C-  I’m a food crop that’s bio-engineered to produce my own internal insecticide.  Quite frankly, it’s abusive.  I’d rather have a rootworm eating me then be violated like this.

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Filed under Ecology, Environment, Ethnobotany, food, Green Living, Humor, Organics, Permaculture, Uncategorized

The Universe Beneath Your Feet

Soil is alive.  It’s a complex web of macro (that which we can see with our eyes), and micro (those we mostly cannot see) organisms.  One tablespoon of soil contains over six  billion bacteria and countless other species that contribute to a medium teeming with life.   We depend on this life to sustain us.  In soil, we grow the plants that provide us with oxygen, food, clothing and shelter.  In  soil, the water cycle is regulated and water purified.  In this soil universe, sometimes disparagingly called “dirt,”  live the creatures that decompose all dead organic matter on Earth; turning waste into value.   Soil is the meeting place of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.  Like most places where “edges” of different worlds meet, the soil is a dynamic interface.   Fertile soil is alive with the biodiversity of a thriving forest; complex ecosystems connecting, growing,  living, co-existing, dying.

The Universe Beneath Our Feet

Soil is Alive

In many places of the world topsoil, (where most soil life is found), is being lost at an unprecedented rate.   Our lives depend on saving, cultivating, and regenerating soil life.  Increasing soil fertility has a positive domino effect and the act of making soil more alive holds answers to some of the most vexing environmental challenges that we face today; including water quality, eco-system and human health issues, and global climate change. Continue reading

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The Reality

My car had broken down for the last time. I waved goodbye as the AAA truck towed my rusting 1993 Pontiac away, one hazard light blinking a jerky farewell.

“I don’t care if it’s crushed into a can. I’ve had it. It’s going to the dump,” I vowed to myself as I stood uncertainly in the waning light outside Bruce’s Auto Maintenance. I had made him rich in the past few years. However, our relationship was about to end, for I had just heard the 14 most horrible words any car owner can hear; “It would be more expensive to fix this car than to buy another one.”

I was still in shock. I stared down at my feet standing on the black asphalt. How was I going to get home? It had been so long since I had walked in the city. I was used to being in my car.

I knew I had to buy another one. Quickly. Cars have always represented freedom to me. Like most Americans, I eat, drink, listen to music, sing, hug, and kiss in cars. When I have a car, I feel independent. My car had been my second home. It was interior decorated with seat covers, pendants hanging from the mirror, air fresheners, and back rests. On the outside, it wore bumper stickers that told people what my opinions were. After my car’s demise, I felt like I was missing a part of my body. How was I going to get to work on Monday? Or to the gym on Tuesday? I began to panic. I started walking down the street vaguely recalling that there was a bus system in this town. That meant there had to be a bus stop somewhere. I wandered past stores I had never looked at before. Traveling at 40 miles an hour doesn’t give you much time to notice what is on either side of the road.  Continue reading

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