turdacres


water is the new black?

Water is an issue that at the top of my mind these days. Surprising perhaps, as I’m in a place which seems to have a lot of it. Last year I actually set up a drip irrigation system for my tomatoes thinking it would save them from some of the blight issues that come from watering. Alas, our summer had more than enough rain, and we hardly used it at all.

But seriously, I am thinking about water issues a LOT these days. First, naturally, we have a well, and well, we also live in Marcellus Shale land, where drillers are coming at us from all sides. The threat to possible water contamination is real, people. So that’s scary.

But then I’m also thinking about California, where my in-laws live. They live in the central coast, a cute little town, and they are under serious restrictions. They were always metering and using grey water for the garden, but this winter, they’ve been reduced to using grey water in the house–to flush the toilets. They have been shlepping buckets up and down through the house, saving shower water for the toilet, dish water for the toilets, etc. It’s pretty grim. 3 months of overusing and your water could be cut off.

It’s just interesting when you go from the individual level to the industrial or governmental level. So for the in-laws, schlepping and saving, they got this great story. The local water district spilled 168,000 gallons of water in February. They didn’t know there was a leak in the tanks. As one resident points out, each individual is allotted 49 gallons a day, and the amount the water district has lost over the past 6 months equals 24 YEARS of individual permits.

Then there’s the weird case of New Mexico. Today I was reading a story about regulations being lifted for the copper industry. In New Mexico, don’t you know, 90% of all water comes from groundwater sources. That’s kind of scary stuff. Especially when you hear that the copper industry is now pretty much exempt from dealing with the regulations surrounding pollution of ground water, an amendment passed in 2013. That just doesn’t sound like good sense for a drought-plagued state like New Mexico?!

Especially when you also know that the dairy industry is the largest industry in the state. Huh, you say. Yep, that’s right. They got a lot of cows making milk in the desert out there. Makes sense to me? They have the largest herds of any state (average herd size is 2088–big cafo productions). That’s 7 billion pounds of milk! Can you believe that?

Of course, all milk means that these dairies  use (and pollute) a lot of groundwater. 60% of dairies in the state have polluted their nearby groundwater, and like the mining example, they haven’t been required to clean it up.

It just seems like we’re really helping ourselves get to the breaking point even faster than climate change could. It no makey sense to me. All I think I can do, is to try and buy local milk products and avoid those bigger chain brands that are no doubt getting their supply from the desert.

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the curious way we think of animals

Today Pittsburgh is honoring a lost comrade..in a big way. Rocco the police dog was stabbed in the line of duty and ultimately passed away. He’s getting a big deal funeral, and police from all over the state are attending. People are alternately confused about the expense and trouble, or moved to tears about the story.

I guess I fall into both camps. Definitely moved to tears by the story, but also a bit confused about the big deal from a culture that doesn’t do much normally to honor animals. There was another sad animal story this past week, which was quite horrific. A large “egg farm” caught on fire. No the eggs don’t just produce themselves–there were around 300,000 hens in the barn at the time. Can you imagine? Horrific in death and in life. Apparently this farm keeps 2 MILLION hens. Sheesh. All those little lives. That brings many tears to my eyes.

Especially as I tend to my two spoiled egg laying (sometimes) charges. Knuckles and Bubbles have the cabin fever. They’ve been so cold this winter.

Yo, how's about you turn the heat up?

Yo, how’s about you turn the heat up?

Here they sat one morning last week, up on the roost right under the heat lamps. They were actually shivering! Poor chums. But at 20 degrees they’re ready to party. I head out to the run and they’re at the door waiting to break loose.

It’s very icy on top of the snow, and I can’t actually open the back door of the barn (which I usually leave open so the chickens could return home if they wanted). SO….yes I give them a free ride to the barn (their little chicken heads bobbing, sometimes telling me a tale).

One at a time, I carry them across the frozen yard to the barn, where they can spend the afternoon scratching around in straw and enjoying themselves. Yes I’m that person, some kind of crazy chicken lady. Not sure how it happened, but at 4 pm, you can find me, carrying a chicken back to the coop, hoping that she enjoyed her day out on the town.

I’m happy that a police dog is getting a big fancy funeral. I see lots of changes out there in how we treat our animals. Sure there are many many contradictions in how we do it, but as long as we are generally moving towards a greater appreciation of life, it’s good, right?

 



Local food: thing of the past in the burgh?
January 30, 2014, 12:50 pm
Filed under: food, food issues, pittsburgh | Tags: , , ,

Only a matter of time I suppose. Post Gazette article talks about some restaurants getting fed up with the whole local food thing. It’s too HARD. Yep I get that. We don’t live in California, so our local food options create a not so glamourous menu. The sad part is that I hear in this article as well as from some of my local farm friends, that some supplier lists on local menus include farmers with whom they haven’t done business in several years?!! They’ve just kept the purveyors on the list so they look like good responsible restauranteurs.

UGH! Now that’s just plain sad. And it reminds me of the big scandal we heard about in Tokyo–where many products on menus were not as described. Hankyu Hanshin Hotels admitted that 47 different ingredients were involved. Selling cheaper shrimp as more expensive ones, frozen juice as “fresh”, “Home-made” cakes were purchased, etc. They knew that customers were looking for a quality brand product, so they left the menu descriptions intact while they served different items. Pretty terrible!

We’ve all heard the fish swap stories, that we’re not actually getting that great tuna or whatever we might think we are. But now it apparently applies to veggies in PA, too. I’m curious to follow up on this story, but then, I don’t really eat out that often. And I sure HOPE our one favorite restaurant is not among the deceitful. But I feel ok about it because we actually went to a farm event and heard from the farmer that he is STILL supplying his fantastic salad greens to Eleven.

I am really glum about this story. Not that surprised I guess, but still sad to hear it. At least these local restauranteurs in this article are keeping it real and deciding to be public about it.



mystery meat no more…
February 28, 2013, 7:25 am
Filed under: food, food issues, meat | Tags: , , ,

Ok and then there’s this, just in from south africa. More diverse animals used in burgers. Donkeys, water buffalo and goat? Ugh, I need to stop reading the news for awhile i think.



mislabeled fish
February 22, 2013, 1:11 pm
Filed under: food, food issues | Tags: , ,

I’ve been interested in the plight of fish for awhile now, and I recently came across these amazing statistics from an article in the New York Times.

In a recent study, fish that was not really tuna was being passed off as tuna in 94 percent of the samples taken. And also disappointing, but something, (ever suspicious consumer that I am) I’d always suspected, almost two-thirds of the “wild” salmon samples were found actually to be farmed Atlantic salmon, which is considered less healthy and environmentally sustainable.

With this plus that terrible horsemeat story, it’s seems that many more will start to seriously mistrust the corporate food machine. Well, while we’re on the topic of the horsemeat, as a vegetarian, I guess I’m not completely outraged. One animal vs. another–it’s all the same, really. But it’s all pretty scary the mislabeling-at this point, just how far are we really from the Chinese melamine stuff? Yeesh, I hope there is still some shred of hope for us here!



whole food “local” honey–not local! Oranges in W.PA?

Local food seems easy enough to define. Or at least define what it’s not! Shipping bees across the country and then selling the honey as “local” is pretty misleading! And pretty impossible in any definition of the word in this case–orange honey in Pittsburgh??!

Visited our newest neighborhood Whole Foods the other day. It’s a nice big store with a great beer cafe! We’ve been waiting a long time for it to open. Unfortunately it’s exactly equidistant to as the other Whole Foods in Pittsburgh. Sigh.

Taking our first tour through we noted some different items. And we noticed a lot of signage. Everyone is on the Local bandwagon these days, and Whole Foods is using a lot of Local tags on its shelves. To wit:

whole foods wexford PA marketing orange honey as local!

Yep. That label shows the apiary has locations in NJ and FL. So, um wait a minute here. It’s interesting to think that New Jersey–around 8 hours away qualifies as “local.” Clearly not a 100 miles version of “local”.

But the real problem–dudes, listen–since when are we growing oranges in Pittsburgh!!! Sheesh. Get real Whole Foods!!

As for the company–I do like the fact that this label gives such a thorough picture of how the honey was produced. Itinerant bees shipped around the country. You know sort of, what you’re getting!



sustainable seafood part two
April 24, 2012, 3:29 pm
Filed under: food, food issues, grocery stores | Tags: , , , ,

I guess the reason I posted about our company dinner was that the topic came to mind again recently with the news about whole foods’ decision to stop selling unsustainable fish. Here’s the story on huffington. Pretty great that they’re not going to sell tuna anymore. Also pretty sad isn’t it? Can’t believe how fast we got to this point–and how slow we were to do anything about it. I hope other retailers (and pursuant to my last post–caterers and restaurants) will take note!

In honor of no more tuna–may I direct your attention to the Turdacres take on mock tuna salad?