April 4, 2010

Independence Days Challenge: 3/28 - 4/3

The power of our food system is this. Up to 12 percent of our total fossil fuel use is linked to the food system. More than 35 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions are linked to our food system.

Sharon Astyk, Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation
If you are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions, that 35% should get your attention. Think about it. First the seeds have to be grown, harvested, and trucked to the farmer. Then it takes fuel to operate the farm machinery (plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting). Add to that the production and delivery of fertilizers and pesticides. After that the harvest has to be trucked to the market or a food processor, trucked and flown to markets and stores, and then we drive to the store to buy it.

Processing food includes not only canning, drying, or freezing, but also packaging. That includes the manufacture and transport of the packaging itself, to the food manufacturer. And unless we use recyclable shopping bags, we need to add that to the list too. All of these are part of the unseen costs that most of us don't give a thought to.

The good news is that these are things we, the average consumer, can do something about. For example, we can buy locally produced food in season, rather than produce that have to be trucked or flown 1000s of miles. Even more helpful, is growing a few favorite items in our yards or window sills, and stocking up when items go on sale. These things mean less trips to the store, less fuel used, and a extra dollars in our pockets.

With that in mind, here's what I did last week:

1. Plant something – nothing this week

2. Harvest something -
  • wild onions - bulbs and tops
  • broccoli
3. Preserve something -
  • froze 3.5 gallons turkey broth (in pints & 1/2 gallons)
4. Waste Not
  • Took the holiday turkey carcasses out of the freezer and made turkey stock using the method described in Nourishing Traditions (cooked with a dash of an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice to dissolve minerals in the bones). Yield: 3.5 gallons broth and 4+ cups of turkey meat simmered off the bone.
  • Used saved milk cartons to freeze some of the turkey broth
  • Weeds & food scraps given to the chickens
  • Mulching almond & fruit trees with cardboard
  • Bought 2 used 55 gal plastic drums to be used for rain catchment
5. Want Not
  • Resolved to start buying just a few extra items each week for food storage. Mine was depleted awhile back, and I've lacked the motivation to get really serious about rebuilding it. That needs to change, though it will have to be a little at a time. Still, something is better than nothing.
  • Ordered 25# fine sea salt, 5# natural cocoa powder, and 5# dried cranberries for food storage, from Bulkfoods.com
  • Bought 5 large cans of pineapple rings on sale. Also bought 2, 3-packs of sterno cans on clearance. I almost didn't because I thought, "well, we have wood for cooking," but then I thought, "but what if we get another long rainy spell and I run out of dry wood." The other possibility would be to give the sterno cans to someone else who could really use them.
  • Ordered a self-pollinating cherry tree for the one spot we have left in our row of fruit trees.
  • Bought 50# of local onions for $6
6. Build Community Food Systems
7. Eat the Food
  • turkey and broccoli in meat pie
  • turnips and butternut squash from storage roasted
  • Starting to use onions in everything. Well, almost everything. I'm not going to try onion brownies any time soon. :)
  • leftover pie dough made into fig "jiggers," using some of last summer's fig jam. Recipe below

Fig Jiggers

When I was a kid, jiggers were a treat my grandmother made from leftover pie dough. She would roll out the dough, spread it with butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, roll it up, cut into slices, and bake. We loved them.

My fig jiggers are similar, except that I used my homemade fig jam instead of the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Roll out, spread, roll up, slice, and bake at 425 F for about 10 -12 minutes or until golden brown.


Nina said...

I've got most of my seeds started. Still a few more flowers and dye plants to start, but the veggies are done. The blueberry bushes are planted.
I've used milk cartons for starting onions and leeks and as pots for transplanting larger seedlings. I found starter trays, cell packs and peat pots on sale for super cheap as they were all last year's stock. I've never had any luck starting seeds in egg cartons and now buy my eggs in flats of 2.5 doz from a small producer and return the flats to be reused.
The chooks have been ordered. We get them on April 21! 30 meaties and 10 layers. Now to finish up the chicken coop.

Catalina Glass said...

I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about her family's year of growing their own food, buying only local, and raising chickens and turkeys. It was a wonderful read!

Leigh said...

Nina, good idea about the onions and leeks. I've been using mine for freezing stocks and broths, but that would be an excellent use too. I don't think my egg cartons would work if I wasn't late in my seed starting, unless I transplanted them, which I still may do!

I hope you post lots of pix of your chicks!

Catalina Glass, I love a good book recommendation thanks! I looked for it at my county library's website, found and requested it. I'm fourth in line! Must be a popular book. Thanks!

Annie said...

I read Barbara Kingsolver's 'The poisonwood Bible', which I loved. Didn't know about this title, so will have to look for it, too!

Sharon said...

Shovel snow :(

Dorothy said...

is pie dough what we call pastry? Pastry is made with half quantity of fat to flour, you rub the fat into the flour and then add just enough water until it sticks together and can be rolled into a ball, ready for rolling out on a floured board.

When I was a child our left over pastry got rolled out and folded over currants to make "squashy fly" biscuits. Nowadays I put cheese in, with some fresh rosemary, I roll out and put cheese in, then fold and repeat several times. It makes very tasty biscuits!

Leigh said...

Annie, I'm always glad for a recommendation. Actually our county library had quite a few of her books, so after I read this one, I will try another.

Dorothy, yes! In fact we might call it "pastry dough" too. "Pastry" by itself usually is assumed to mean a finished product such as a sweet roll. I love your idea and will definitely have to try that. Oftentimes, I either add it to the sourdough starter or just freeze it and add to another batch.