Excerpt from Meat the Benign Extravagance

Only a few from what were many bullet points where Simon Farlie, author, described characteristics a low-carbon mixed (omnivorous and vegan) agriculture.

  • A highly reruralized society would see a revival of fairs, not unlike the growing number of festivals that embellish the modern English summer, but with stalls that purveyed the practical as well as the fanciful, and plenty of dealing in horses, livestock, cheese, and the like. ‘When fairs were frequent shops were not necessary,’ says Cobbett with characteristic hyperbole, and he goes on to explain:
    A manufacturer of shoes, of stockings, of hats, of almost anything that man wants, could manufacture at home in an obscure hamlet, with cheap house rent, good air, and plenty of room. He need pay no heavy rent for a shop; and no disadvantages from confined situation; and then by attending three or four or five or six fairs in a year, he sold the work of his hands, unloaded with a heavy expense attending the keeping of a shop. He would get more for ten shillings in a booth at a fair or market than he would get in a shop for twenty pounds.
    Anybody who doubts the ability of society entirely dependent upon animal traction to shift large volumes of material, or who thinks that country life before the motor vehicle must have been boring, should read Defoe’s description of Sturbridge fair, an event the size of Glastonbury Festival, but with no entrance fee or security fence, and lasting many days longer.
  • In some circumstances it might be more economic to employ a shepherd/cowherd to guard ruminants, rather than to fence them. This has advantages for animal welfare (disease is more readily spotted) and for land management (grazing of different areas can be calibrated by the shepherd, and overgrazed areas such as riverbanks avoided).
  • Some herd of ruminants would be returned to barns or folded on fields at night to supply manure.
  • There might be a return to the formerly widespread practice – still found in Eastern Europe – of family-owned dairy cows being collected by the community shepherd after milking in the morning and returned for milking in the evening after a day in common pastures. There are great advantages to this system: it uses economies of scale where they exist (in grazing and bull provision), but spreads the burden where scale is a disadvantage (in handmilking and veterinary care); it distributes milk to every family participating in the scheme; and gives every participating family a stake in the management of village lands, and the economic and emotional satisfaction of owning a cow. The same system was used on the Eastern coast of the United States, prior to the days of barbed wire. Defoe describes this system operating in Cheddar where ‘the whole village are cowkeepers’ and ‘before the village is a large green, or common, a piece of ground in which the whole herd of the cows, belonging to the town, do feed’. Milk not consumed at home was turned into a single huge cheese at the co-operative dairy (another operation where economies of scale are a great advantage); but families were paid, when they had contributed enough gallons, with a huge cheese weighing up to a hundredweight. which it was their responsibility to sell: “Thus every man has equal justice, and though he should have but one cow, he shall, in time, have one whole cheese’.

We are how we eat

I was reading in an Anthropology text and learned that malaria was likely resultant from the invention of slash and burn farming. I think this is a great history lesson for the conditions we find ourselves in today.
Today, we know global warming is in large part contributed to by factory farming, particularly of animals. Although, some say that we require factory farming in order to feed people, perhaps something farmers who slash and burn might have argued too, there is a lot of evidence that merely addressing food waste and informing the agricultural practice with permacultural principals is the way to achieve symbiosis with our planet. Permacultural principals would result in meat becoming an expensive delicacy, but overall would lead to even more diversity in the diet.
It is important to have regulation, because we don’t want to allow the economical advantage to be with the short-sighted, low-investment methods of agriculture, slash and burn and factory farms. Yet, it is important to have correct regulation, because sometimes good intentions can have big consequences, such as the UK banning feeding swill to pigs, exasperating the food waste problem, while diverting food products from people livestock humans invented to turn food scraps into food.

What is your favorite chocolate?

I have come across some really delicious chocolates recently. Chocolate is an important part of the diet, if you like it. A person needs to indulge, but the trick is for your indulgence to nourish you. So when I’m say chocolate, I’m not talking about that hershey’s milk chocolate crap. Get that away from me.

My new favorite chocolate is Lulu’s Smoked Sea Salt Almond with organic sprouted almonds. Everything about this chocolate is perfect. Ingredients: cacao, cacao butter, coconut palm sugar, sprouted almonds, smoked sea salt and vanilla bean. That’s it, that’s all. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Another happy discovery I made recently Taza 87% dark stone ground chocolate. I love that I can still detect the texture of the cacao in the bar, but its been lightly sweetened enough to be delicious.

I also recently found two just absolutely delicious chocolate energy bars that have become top of my list. Anybody that ever tries to get an energy bar knows that sometimes they don’t really taste that great.

My favorite is Primal Kitchen’s dark chocolate almond, which gets its nutritional punch from collagen. It is extremely chewy which forces you to take it slow. I particularly love how the faintest hint of the Himalayan salt dances behind the chocolate and nut flavor.

Coming in at a close second is Bearded Brothers Mega Maca energy bars. Ingredients: dates, almonds, cashews, maca powder, cacao nibs, mexican cocoa, evaporated coconut palm nectar, chia seeds, sea salt. They’re comparable to the well-known cliff bar, but the ingredients are more finely ground and compressed if that makes any sense.

Just so you know, nobody is paying me to say this. I just love chocolate! So what is your favorite chocolate?



Vaportinis and 3Dponics

The other day on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a Gizmodo article on vaporizing alcohol using the Vapshot Mini and I was intrigued. However, I resigned myself to never having the experience for myself, because the gadget mentioned was very expensive. Discussing it with my friends, I learn one of ours actually has a Vaportini. Now the Vaportini is only $35 bucks and a much simpler device. I chose to try it out on Jameson, and it was a delightful experience. Much of the enjoyment from flavor is inhaling the scent; essence of a good scotch, whisky, or gin is amazing.

Today, I read an article about the 3Dponics open sourced hydroponic system. I’m excited to death over it, tell my 3D printing partner and he is printing out the parts for me now! We’re learning a bit about how the growing stones and nutrient water needs to be dealt with and jumping right in. We plan to grow spinach, radishes, and turnips.

The pace of life is surreal in this decade, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It tastes like cake batter

When I opened the bag, I caught a whiff of vanilla scent. The mixture blended with the oil and liquid readily with a spoon and became a soft beige color. It tastes like cake batter. It does not taste bad, but you’ll definitely want to add something to it. I got bored of it halfway through my “meal”, which I kept to soylent, water, oil, and ice cubes, in order to do this review. Rhinehart met his objective of giving the product a basic taste. It’s sweet enough that I don’t think you need to add sugar to make a nice smoothie with fruit, or to flavor it with unsweetened cocoa powder. I’ll be trying these and many more variations as I work through the supply.

Soylent has been suggested for use against world hunger. Many years ago, I attended a Christian meeting called Urbana. It is an international, fairly ecumenical gathering to get young people riled up about going on missions. I was fasting for the event, which saddened me a little as I realized I was missing out on what looked like great St. Louis restaurants. However, my tenacity was rewarded with an opportunity, because I was able to break it during an event where we were given a serving of the corn-grain gruel that aid organizations provide to starving people. You get scoop in your bowl and a sugar packet for flavoring. I said all this to say that, that gruel they gave us tasted similarly to Soylent. Unlike gruel, Soylent requires ice to stay cool; this is one thing that admittedly makes me question it as a replacement for the status quo. However, I do think if could be formulated into an icecream, that could be a delightful way to provide it to people; I would figure having an edible container such as a waffle cone could reduce waste.



Edit: I’d like to include that my hunger levels were fine after a serving of Soylent until it was time for my next meal.

Soylent Arrived!

Finally, my shipment of Soylent has arrived!

I will be running my first taste test tomorrow at lunch time! Thereafter, I will be replacing all my lunches with Soylent until I exhaust the supply! Also the occasional breakfast and dinner, I’m sure.

Want to know what its like to get a month supply of Soylent? Here are photos from the unboxing. [Awful pictures I realized, I’ll try to get some scans, I think its the low light in my apartment]

20140805_174805[1] 20140805_174908[1]   20140805_175011[1]20140805_175031[1]20140805_175039[1]  20140805_175105[1]

Soylent Order Shipped!

The month supply of Rob Rhinehart’s Soylent 1.0 that I backed during the Kickstarter has finally shipped. 

My enthusiasm for doing the one-month trial died down quite a bit in the interim, now that it has already been on the Colbert Report and made numerous public appearances. I wanted to be one of the first people to do it, but now that others have already done it, there is no reason for me to do so, particularly now that we already know about the uncomfortable gastronomical affects if you suddenly switch to it as your primary food source.

Instead, I’m going to use it as a lunch replacement. Since I am only going to be replacing one meal, I will be replacing lunch for a significant length of time. I am excited about this as part of a renewed attempt to reduce calories in my diet and to enjoy my lunch hour at work doing something other than preparing food/eating food. 

I sure am looking forward to the taste test. The conflicting reports concerning its palatability lead me to have very little idea what to expect. Stay tuned. 🙂