Number one daughter wants a mac daddy refrigerator. She thinks it plebian for me to get my water from the sink and my ice out of the freezer, and then go turn the tv on on the other side of the kitchen. She started gently pressuring me for a refrigerator with ice and water available from the door, claiming this would cut our energy costs since we wouldn’t open the door to get ice. She wants the tv mounted right on the door too. Sounds like a nice fridge, probably with a corresponding nice price tag.
Good parenting is mastering the art of distraction. Number one daughter needed to think about something else. I shared with her the use of earthenware pots for cooling food, and shared my hope that the fridge would break down, so we could eliminate it altogether. She’s been praying ever since for long appliance life. And until she graduates from medical school, so am I.
The op-ed piece, Math Lessons for Locovores, by Steven Budiansky, published in the NY Times Friday is an intelligently written consideration of the cost of transportation and the value of supporting local agriculture. His math calculations consider only the cost of the gasoline required for transportation, and not the cost of maintaining the roadways and railways. And trucks and trains. The costs of transport of food long distances is subsidized by the governement at many levels, and that contributes to the small farmer not being able to compete. The environmental catastrophe of large monoculture farms, which require more fertilizer and pesticides to maintain the health of the monoculture, is not calculated by the simple addition of the cost of pesticide.
The benefits of local agriculture don’t just include decreasing fuel costs. Contrary to Mr. Budiansky’s opinion, local agriculture maintains green space around the community. Big ag doesn’t grow food more efficiently. With the use of heavy machinery and high doses of pesticides and fertilizer required to maintain a monoculture, combined with the hidden and actual costs of transport, they use far more calories than the small farmer to make the same amount of food. And they aren’t making food. They’re growing corn and soy, mostly for animal feed and processed food products like high fructose corn syrup. Money spent within your community is redistributed six times within the microeconomy of the community, stimulating your local economy much better than a trip to the superstore. Kids are learning farming and animal husbandry, practiced in a way that at least respects the animal as a sentient being. Animal waste isn’t stored in lagoons that contaminate the groundwater and flood the neighboring rivers with every rainshower, it is instead used instead as the fertilizer.
The distraction being practiced by Mr. Budiansky, suggesting that food preparation is the main problem, is right on and completely wrong at the same time. The transportation, chemicals and environmental destruction of coorporate farming are devastating our country, and our waistlines. My community needs my money right here, now more than ever. My kids need safe, fresh food with short, reliable supply lines from a farmer with integrity. Also, as we trend increasingly away from meat and dairy, my need for home refrigeration declines. As I eat more raw food, my oven is used less and less. Water is good without ice, right out of the tap.
Buy local. Eliminate meat and dairy. Eat more raw food. Save your life, your waistline, and a little diesel. The sight of apples ripening on Leelenau Peninsula and in my backyard fill me with hope. Concentraing on local foods means thinking of fruit as a product of an orchard, and winter squash as the fruit of an early winter farm. March past the off season fruits. You have nothing to lose but mealy, juiceless, rock-hard, unripened food.