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New Year's Food Resolutions
Erica Barnett, 1 Jan 08

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Having spent the bulk of New Year's Day digging an 18-inch-deep hole in the yard for our new Green Cone food waste compost bin (producing a mountain-sized hill of dirt and getting a monster splinter in the process), I had food--specifically, how to eat more sustainably--on the brain. Here are a few of my food-related goals for the coming year; what are yours?

Get chickens. OK, so I'm hardly the first urban dweller to harbor fantasies of raising chickens for farm-fresh eggs straight from my backyard--web sites such as Backyard Chickens, The City Chicken, Mad City Chickens,
and many others have existed for years. Still, better late than never, right? Chickens are low-maintenance, cheap to care for, and a sustainable food source--the food miles from backyard chickens are literally nonexistent. As a bonus, chickens provide free (and organic!) fertilizer, which will be helpful when I...

Tear up the lawn. The lawn is nice--lush, low-maintenance, pleasant to look at--but honestly? We hardly ever "use" it. My goal for the year is to tear out half the backyard and replace it with organic gardens, including raised beds, potted herb gardens that can come inside in the winter (it gets cold where we live), and an extensive ground-level garden that can provide us with fresh produce year-round. Ideally--in the summer, at least--we can get to the point where at least half, and potentially more, of our food comes from right in our own backyard. As for the produce we can't grow ourselves (because of soil conditions, space constraints, etc), I'll strive to...

Visit the farmers' market more frequently. Our summertime neighborhood farmers' market is only a few blocks down the road, but I haven't exactly been as vigilant as I could this year about making the trip every single week. That's silly, because the produce we get at the farmers' market is invariably 1) cheaper, 2) more sustainable, and 3) of much higher quality than the produce that's trucked in to our (awesome) local food co-op. This year, I'll do a better job of supporting local farmers, and encourage my friends to do the same. To fill in the gaps, I'll...

Join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture programs allow participants to "subscribe" to a local farm or farms and receive weekly bins of produce direct from the producer. Our local area offers a number of Community Supported Agriculture programs (find CSAs in your area here), including several that deliver produce directly to your home. (These cost more, of course, but if convenience is what motivates you to participate, why not?) In a similar vein, I'd really love to...

Buy into a pig (or cow, or lamb). "Buying clubs" allow consumers to purchase a portion of an animal in advance (i.e., before the animal is slaughtered, or in some cases even born). After purchase, you receive portions of your animal throughout the year--the purveyor processes the meat and divides it up so that everyone receives an equal portion (or more, if you choose to receive organ meats as well). If you join a club with people you know, it's also a cool way to build community. And you "know" the animal you're eating, which is a good step toward my next goal, which is...

Become a more informed consumer. Let's leave aside, for now, the "local vs. organic" debate. My goal in the New Year is to learn as much as possible about the food I consume, and make choices based on real information. Is a local, conventionally produced apple "better"--in terms of the chemicals involved, food-miles required, and conditions for workers provided, among other things--than an organic apple from across the country? I don't know, but I'd like to. Speaking of "knowing" your food, why not...

Make more from scratch. Living in a city, I have access to an enormous bounty of conveniently packaged, reasonably priced processed foods--but buying everything at the store is inevitably less fun than producing some of it at home. A few cases in point: Cheese (many varieties of which it's actually very easy to produce at home); butter (even easier); pickles (astonishingly easy, whether it's cucumbers, corn, or okra you're pickling); or meat, chicken, and vegetable stocks. Saving scraps and bones, in fact, is part of my plan to...

Reduce my food waste to zero. Making stock is a small part of the picture; composting food waste (as well as yard waste, obviously) is a much larger one. Taken together, these two simple steps are almost enough to keep my trash cans completely empty of food "junk."

And finally...

Try an unusual cuisine; and share food with friends more often. My favorite times are those shared with friends and loved ones over food meticulously prepared for their enjoyment and edification. To that end, I resolve to share more food, and more new food experiences, with the ones I love.

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Comments

Great ideas all, but local vs. organic is a false opposition. How about local and organic, if that is what your values are? I've heard one very devoted food issues advocate put it this way: are your pesticides local too? I do understand your concerns and applaud your thoughtfulness, but why not encourage local distribution and purchasing and organic production -- conscious eaters shouldn't think of it as an either/or decision.


Posted by: Lainie on 2 Jan 08

Great resolutions list, Erica. Couldn't agree more with your first resolution about getting chickens of your own. We joined the legions of urban chicken farmers last spring and couldn't be happier eating our own yard fresh eggs. Check out our Urban Chickens blog and you'll see it's even easier than you think!


Posted by: Thomas K on 2 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

buy less dumb tech gear. (mobile phones / mp3 players / stereos / TV's / lame ass gadgets)

learn to recycle/cross-platform old tech gear into something much more funky and useful = that could mean joining a group of gear-hackin' sugar-hugging tech nerds, but ya feed them some decent organic grubs and soon maybe we all benefit

a 21st century new year's resoulution?


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

ouch... apologies.

didn't appear to be loading


Posted by: Noah Youssef on 3 Jan 08

Good for you for resolving to get accurate information about your food choices, and being aware that there are many sides to the issues! I've challenged my blog readers to read at least one opposing piece on each food/ag production issue they feel strongly about.

As far as reducing your food waste--your chickens resolution will help with that one too. Our compost barrel has gone hungry many a day since we added yard chickens to our ranch operation.


Posted by: Sara on 4 Jan 08



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