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Friday Field Notes

Exciting and interesting events are taking place in and around the Pacific NW and beyond. This Field Notes will highlight a few locally as well as a more national tie in on a couple of the topics.

Wild Steelhead Found Spawning in the Elwha
Since the removal of the old dam, large wild steelhead have been tracked and visually spotted in the upper reaches of the Elwha river that is past the site of the dam.

Small Local Farming Creating a New Profit Model
An interesting article on small farming models.

The Antithesis to the idea of being a localvore
An article that presents an idea that the 10,000 mile diet is a much better solution that going local. Personally, I think he’s full of shit.

Local Seattlelite, Langdon Cook, featured on NPR

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
This is a great site, I wanted to focus on as I keep a printout of their dirty dozen list in my wallet for when I’m at the grocery store picking up my produce. More during the winter months when my farmer’s markets are not open.

My Quest for Meat

The long downward demise of our food system is not only a disgrace, but also rather alarming. Catastrophic decisions have been made in how our nation farms both for produce and meat. The nutritional value of produce has dramatically decreased over the years due to pesticide usage. Produce and meat recalls no longer shock society and are becoming more and more normal. Hormone’s, such as RBsT, are changing how our children develop and obesity/diabetes among Americans is now reaching critical levels. None of this should be new news, I believe we are all ‘aware’ of it. Authors such as Upton Sinclair, Rachel Carson, Steven Rinella, Hank Shaw, Tovar Cerulli, Novella Carpenter and Michael Pollan have lamented on this subject over the years. The question I ask myself, is how can I affect change in my life and with my family to eat healthier and more sustainably — not just organic?

 

My thoughts on this subject have been caught in a mental wave pool since 2005. These thoughts are always near the forefront of my mind but they fluctuate back and forth and there really is no escape or outlet. The more I contemplate the status quo the greater I find a massive internal paradigm shift. I want to be mindful about what I put into my body and how I care for my body so that I can live a long healthy life with those that I love.

 

In this light, I am choosing to start bow hunting. There are numerous reasons that I’ve arrived at this decision. Those mentioned previously, but more specifically I want to be completely honest with myself as to where my meat comes from. Wild game is truly free range, and grass fed lean meat. Can I look the animal in the eyes, take his life, and then later serve him on my dinner table? I will choose which animal to harvest, and I will be responsible for placing my kill shot as merciful as possible. This is a great responsibility that I will take seriously. In bow hunting the great challenge is achieving close proximity to your target. Typically bow range is less than 50 yards requiring great skill and patience, therefore in my mind leveling the playing field. It is not the ‘thrill of the kill’ that I look forward too, if it was all about the ‘thrill of the kill’ then I probably would have a job at a slaughterhouse where I could fulfill that thrill. People may wonder how can you kill a defenseless animal? They are not defenseless, the environment of the wild and laws of nature are based on a lifecycle of predator vs prey. Comments regarding how hunting is bad seem like an oxymoron — especially if said from those who choose to get their meat from a supermarket. Those animals are defenseless; they live in jam-packed fenced pens and are force fed grains with growth hormones so they can get fat and ready for slaughter. Ultimately, the large agra-business model, puts value on getting to market as fast as possible and less on quality. Equality in the wild does not exist, as man is only king of the food chain in the supermarket.

 

Hunting provides an opportunity for humans to face mortality and realize that death is not an abstraction, but rather a condition of living. Urban life has separated us from wild places, numbed our senses to death and further distancing our understanding of food sources. Therefore, our emotional awareness and our own actions of sourcing food have been anesthetized even though the end product still supports death. The cognitive disconnect between cellophane wrapped choices at the butcher counter and the process it took for that meat to arrive to that counter should be a considered by anyone who choose to eat meat. I am choosing to have a visceral participation in the wild, not just as a tourist, but as a way to provide food for my family.

 

In this day and age, our food cost will only continue to rise. The current large agricultural model is based on food miles and with the skyrocketing price of oil it is just a given that we will be paying more for the continued decline of quality food down the road. I’m looking to try and break free from the current model and institute a sense of independence. As a man who was raised in a non-hunting household, I have not taken this decision lightly. It’s been almost 2 years of investigating, thinking and processing emotions on the ideology of hunting that I’ve come to this. I say all of this as I’m not necessarily looking for approval, maybe a bit of understanding, but more importantly I deeply believe that we should all examine and question our sources of food both individually and collectively and make thoughtful decisions on how we choose to fuel our lives and our families.

 

A simplier life in a complicated world

There’s been a storm brewing in my mind for at least the past year if not a bit longer. As I find myself looking at the all the various messes going on both within our nations borders and beyond internationally, I see a growing need for independence. Out of that independence grows community. I talk with some people who are near and dear to my heart and they were taught, the only person you can trust is yourself. That statement is partially true, but it seems so narrow minded to me. I think we can trust others and find a great since of community. As I look around me at vast consumption (from energy – to the acquisition of stuff), endangered animals, watersheds and just about everything. I find that I struggle on a daily basis with technology (and I’m a geek) and finding ways to resort back to a simpler life in a complicated world.

The biggest catalyst for me is food and its consumption on our nation.

Food is the one thing that we should all watch carefully, as the dust finally settles it will remain king. We all must eat and those who control it will have much unnecessary power. Therefore, the internal shift for me is trying to find ways to put food on my table. Locally. I really think that I’m becoming more and more of a localvore as I can with my food. I’ve starting an herb garden with tomatoes so that we can preserve the yummy red sauce my Italian wife makes from fresh sourced san marzano tomatoes in our backyard. Hopefully, we get a large enough harvest to last us all winter long next year. I have a feeling this summer is going to be a busy one as I work diligently to stock up our pantry. I fish, because its fun to be out in nature battling the elements of nature — man vs. nature kind of thing, but also to be able to put the freshest, non-hormone farmed crap, into my families belly. Plus, sharing food is really the greatest gift of all, there’s magic that surrounds a dining room table full of laughter and great conversation.

Right now, as I struggle with trying to figure out how to live in this technology advancing society without becoming a luddite. I choose to focus my activities on independence. I grow food, I fish for food, I can/preserve harvests, I make candles for power outages, I brew my own beer—all these activities are local. Another reason we are going to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) from a farm that is less than 20 miles from our home. I don’t know where this will take me, maybe it’s just a realization or more specifically a shift in a personal paradigm, but moving forward on this blog will be posts relating to these challenges and it’s triumphs.