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mermaidcamp

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October #Unprocessed

September 29, 2015 2 Comments

October Unprocessed

October Unprocessed

This is the sixth year of the October Unprocessed challenge, but the first time I have heard of it.  This is an excellent idea for eaters of all stripes.  Everyone can benefit from learning more about our food and how it is made.  Diet is a hot topic, and many are the suggestions for improving it.  I think the least complicated plan is the best.  For folks who think fast food is the only way to eat this change might pose a bigger problem, but for my household this is not much of a stretch.  At first I believed it meant I would use nothing prepackaged, but the definition used is not that tight.  For this purpose unprocessed means something an ordinary cook could prepare with normal ingredients in a normal kitchen.  It does not exclude foods prepared with minimum alteration.  I can still be in the group while using my boxed tomatoes and jars of olives or pickles.

What will have to be banished for October?

  • Fake meat-by far the costliest and least healthy of my junk foods
  • Chips-unless I whip some up with freshly fried or baked tortillas
  • Store bought bread-I can make all the bread we eat easily
  • Bottled juices- fresh is better and much healthier for the planet

I am not opposed to buying help with food preparation as long as the product is not altered or preserved.  I sometimes use baking mixes and some frozen pastry products, but for the month I will make my own pastry because it is much more cost-effective.  It can be also be made in appropriate small batches for the two of us.  Fall is an easy time to create fruit crisps, crumbles, and cobblers with the harvest. Fruit and cheese plates make lovely desserts without any fuss or bother.

I like all the support offered including dining options in popular chain restaurants.  The sponsors and leaders are prepared to inform, uplift, and encourage anyone who wants to try to improve their eating habits.  Rather than “going on a diet” this program is aimed at awareness and alternatives to the status quo.  I am enthusiastically on board.  I will finish off my beet and plantain chips with gusto before Thursday.  What do you think, gentle reader?  I think it is worth the effort.

bell peppers, unprocessed

bell peppers, unprocessed

#CrimingWhileWhite

December 4, 2014 5 Comments

While protests on American streets continue a new protest movement is taking place on twitter.  White people are discussing white privilege as experienced by them.  It captures the other side of the policing story from the point of view of the beneficiaries of a highly prejudiced system.  I think most of us know being white is an advantage, but we are not aware of how much of a boon it is to white criminals.  Equal protection under the law, if it were to be equal, would extend all the way from safe, secure protected living environments for all to criminal justice that deals out fair and equal sentencing.  If you take a look at this trending hashtag you will see some shocking examples of system failure.

I am white to the WASPiest extreme.  See my super Brit ancestors to validate my whiteness.  I live my life in such a way as to avoid all contact with doctors, lawyers, and police.  I have been highly successful with this plan, in part because I am white. I have no crimes to report, pre se, except that I was an undocumented worker in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, off and on for many years.  As a wetback gringa all privilege and courtesy was bestowed on me by the migra on both sides of the border.  There was never any problem. I have not crossed the border since 2003 because things just became too complicated after 2001.  The era of the #WetbackGringa, wild and free, became a thing of the past.

I think the #CrimingWhileWhite phenomena comes from unconscious prejudice embedded in our culture.  I don’t think there is willful or criminal intent by police to treat citizens by different standards.  That is why the grand jury is able to rule that there is no probable cause to try the cops who ended lives while on duty.  These preferences, or assumptions that white people are not threatening society, are not consciously accepted by the individuals dealing out the uneven justice and protection.   Systemic privilege as well as systemic prejudice exist in the collective beliefs of a culture.  Just as people have shadow qualities of which they are unaware, so do institutions.  Institutional shadow qualities are even harder to nail because there is no institutional Jungian shrink to assist the patient in seeing its whole being. The very nature of shadow prejudice is to hide and stay hidden because nobody wants to believe we are acting from such base instincts.  I have been a petroleum princess in Venezuela and a wetback gringa in Mexico.  I can tell you from experience the only thing better than being a white woman is being a bilingual blonde white woman.  We are automatically above suspicion and nobody ever suspects we understand Spanish, so they say anything in front of us, assuming we will not know what they are saying. Have you ever had an experience of white supremacy or privilege, gentle reader?

Conserving Tucson

October 27, 2014 2 Comments

home tour

home tour

composting toilet

composting toilet

hand washing

hand washing

okra

okra

chicken run

chicken run

We attended the open house and garden tour offered by Watershed Management Group in Tucson this weekend.  We are interested in finding ways to improve our soil and conserve rain water since we live in a time of drought in the desert.  We have come a long way toward awareness that we need to make use of the storm water that causes erosion and lots of damage to our paved streets.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but the interest is growing and the available resources are expanding.  Home owners who contribute labor to projects at the homes of others can earn credit toward completing their own projects though the Green Living coop program at Watershed Management.  Volunteer opportunities abound, and the coop gives homeowners a more thrifty alternative to hiring a contractor.

The homeowners were gracious showing us gardens, chickens and systems they have installed to capture grey water and rain water.  The outdoor bathroom with solar shower and composting toilet was comfortable and had no objectionable smell at all.  The agriculture thrives with the help of extra rain water.  The plants show obvious signs of good health.  Our favorite home display was the aquaponic garden.  This system uses a few fish to provide the food needed to grow plants in water.  The cascading system is very low in water use since it is all recycled and pumped through the fish tank and back to the garden all the time. We would love to have a system like this, and will go back to visit the aquaponic system to investigate getting our own.  The homeowner also had some ingenious use of rainwater for orchard trees and a wood fired hot tub with a charcoal filter system.

aquaponics

aquaponics

IMG_1469

aquaponic kale

aquaponic kale

wood fired hot tub

wood fired hot tub

 

The most developed and well funded display we visited was the Nature Conservancy headquarters.  They have taken out the asphalt, installed giant cisterns under the parking lot and in metal tanks.  The parking structures are solar electric panels that provide most of the electricity for the facility.  The mission of the Conservancy is wonderfully fulfilled by the educational aspects of the campus.  The public can visit and learn about water harvesting and conservation any time, but during the harvest tour we were accompanied by a docent who was very well informed and helpful.  This well respected institution takes the lead in teaching and practicing ecological sanity.  The building itself was built from recycled materials.  The non native plants were removed in favor of native landscaping.  We are lucky to have this shining example of conservation in our city.

cistern Nature Conservancy

cistern Nature Conservancy

solar electric

solar electric

cistern

cistern

Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy

Nature Conservancy

 

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