"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Cow, What Now?

Both of us grew into adulthood on a diet that consisted of meals that included meat, dairy, and bread products two or more times a day as a large part of that meal. As time went on we had both gained excess weight and our health seemed to be changing for the worse. A few too many colds, a sore (strep) throat issue that would not go away, blood pressure elevated a bit. Small but obvious health "glitches."

We are both are extremely active and spend a lot of time gardening, hiking to our favorite mountain lakes, mountain biking, weightlifting, and have recently taken up running...we believe that physical strength and endurance is very important to one's overall well-being. As we wanted to continue in these endevours we decided that a dramatic change in our diet could be beneficial.

At the same time we were making a serious change in our lives regarding our ability to grow and gather most of our own food stuffs in order to escape the "system" and had made a goal to rely less, much less, on the "stupermarkets" and more upon what we could grow in our gardens or gather from nature. Time was spent researching health, nutrition and our ability to be food self-reliant. In the end, a conclusion was reached that a simple diet of mostly raw fruits and vegetables with less dairy, bread, and little if any meat would be best. It certainly was for us.

Meat was initially left out of our diet because in order for it to fit into our self-sufficient lifestyle we would have to raise our own and without going into details it would cost "us" a heck of a lot more to raise and feed a cow or pig than it does to grow as many vegetables as one could ever want. Neither of us were the type that could be detached and unaffected by raising then having to eat a family pet, as they would become to us, so it was an easy choice to make. Although we did adopt a flock of chickens that we barter garden produce and free rent for fresh eggs, all parties are quite content with this agreement.

After a couple years on this diet it became evident that it was the right choice. Excess pounds came off almost effortlessly and our health improved so much that we are still to this day utterly amazed at the changes that took place. We call it the "Muscle And Bone" diet because that is what is left after you get rid of all the fat and "unhealth" that comes from a standard American diet. So...do we sit around munching on carrot and celery sticks all day? Hardly. It is gourmet all the way for us. Fortunately we love to create meals and spend upwards of 2 hours a day doing so. Around 70-80% of what we eat consists of huge salads filled with as many as 50+ different types of greens,

grated carrots, beets, kohlrabi, turnips, and squash (yeah, raw grated squash) topped with onions, nuts, baked purple potatoes and sometimes fruit and berries are thrown in. We are able to eat this all year around fresh from our garden and root cellar. Many a breakfast is had with leftover salad and poached eggs thrown on top

or smoothies made from wild berries either gathered or grown. Once or twice a week we treat ourselves to a cooked meal which might be potato and kale soup,

baked squash,

homemade quesidillas, or garden fresh pizza.

Meal time is never dull at our house.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hard Times In The Food Garden

Gazing out the window I watch the last of the leaves fall from the trees reluctant to admit this year's gardening season is really over. Weather made it our toughest year ever yet we have stored up enough to feed us through the long months that lie ahead.

An unrelenting North Idaho winter had us shoveling snow in May to allow for the planting of seeds. We sadly stood and watched under the barns tin roof as thunderous hail stones pelted our newly established crops into mush on the first of July forcing us to replant over half of the garden. August windstorms took out the runner beans, which were propped back up, more securely this time, and they went on to exceed our every expectation providing us with many gallons of fresh and dried beans.

At the same time the corn was once again flattened so we constructed a rope grid to hold it up. Unfortunately between the hail and wind the corn didn't fare as well as the beans and it became fodder for our chickens. Lucky chickens. Aphids, leaf miners, and slugs haunted our salad greens and we were forced to cut many of them back in order to regain control over the bugs.

Fortunately the chickens like them better with bugs...again, lucky chickens.

We share a sense of accomplishment and pride that we did not give in to defeat and persevered to endure whatever came our way. We took it on as a personal challenge to respect mother nature's unexpected and at times irritating ways but refused to give in - whatever she threw our way we came back with a fury of our own. Here are some personal notes for the first half of July.

Garden notes and observations 2008:

07/01/2008 65-90° Day started out great, sunny and nice, 6:00 PM massive thunderstorm with large pounding hail - laid waste to garden. Looks like we get to start all over again - too bad it's already JULY!! On the bright side, we can go ahead and pick some of the peppers we have been wanting because they are laying all over the ground.

07/09/2008 56-90° Well now I know that plants that have been totally demolished by hail and rain will continue to grow...carrots sprang back the fastest with new growth and you can hardly tell anything happened to them, green beans put out new leaves fairly fast, squash and zuc are starting to put out new growth also. Peas are recovering still and the cucumbers are slowly getting new buds...I did a lot of seed re-plants on those and they are all coming up now. Broccoli (especially peacock), cabbage, and brussels still look pretty bad but are alive. Tomatoes are starting to regrow fairly well...potatoes look OK and seem to be putting out new leaves...good thing I planted so many...also the beets are starting to grow new leaves. My biggest concern is that the stress of hail and heat is going to cause chard and kales to bolt prematurely....

07/14/2008 43-80° Windstorm came and knocked my already struggling peas in half...guess I will continue with re-plants and crossed fingers today....after I clean up the mess of course.

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