A Quick Thought on Superweeds

This National Geographic story certainly does have a lot of good information in it, so its worth a read and provides some different viewpoints on GMOs and ends with a story on organic farming benefits. To add to the story, I thought it was important to add one piece in the GMO arena: SUPERWEEDS.

It is vitally important to note the concern of superweeds caused by GMO crops and the chemicals involved. This is escalating and requires even more chemicals now to deal with superweeds. In a nutshell, the chemicals/technology developed with GMO crops works to kill the weeds on the land where GMO crops are planted. But…there are some species of plants (which we call superweeds) that are immune to this technology, so they run rampant and can overtake the farmland. In response, one action is that the company or farmer would then need to apply yet another dose of chemicals on the farm land to deal with these superweeds.

Here are three stories about superweeds:



Poetry: Lively Stock’s Path

Calf growing, grass lengthening, morning dew and baby breath
Shadow of bird flying overhead, mother’s milk
Mother’s eyes, gateway to soul of sacrifice
Stomach system of four, flowing warmth
Rancher’s Love, grazing patterns, noble butcher

Bone marrow, life’s dessert
Osso buco, big apple, liver and heart, bones and stones
Protein of grass greatness, omega, oh Mega, omega
Rich fat, collagen, ligament, tendon, veins

Medium rare, dripping nutrients, sprinkle of sea salt
Steak knife working, cutting through it all, little by little
Last cut, letting go, free from hanging on
First bite, 44 unique chews

Taste with gratitude, elements contributing
Loving, nourishment, beings helped
Cowhide warming the cabin floor

Using the Whole Animal: Buffalo Skull Art

If we are going to take an animal’s life for food, we should honor the sacrifice through using the whole animal. We do this by eating all of the parts of the animal we can, using the hide, fur, bones, and other bits.

I paint buffalo skulls for many reasons. One of them is the idea of using the whole animal.

I bought this particular buffalo skull from a local taxidermist. He buys the buffalo heads from a local buffalo ranch, cleans them up, and sells them. Interesting side note: I have bought and eaten buffalo meat from this ranch before too.

Below are some pictures of my most recent painted buffalo skull, titled Spirit LineThe design is inspired by Native American Diné (Navajo) rug designs. The spirit line on the upper right side of the skull in red. In Navajo weaving, the spirit line is common and represents the pathway for the weaver’s spirit to leave the rug.

photo (27) - Version 2  photo 1 (5)

photo 2 (6)  photo 2 (9)  photo 2 (5)
For more details on Spirit Line click here. Also, check out my new (and still in development) facebook art page, Buffalo Lands Art.

Don’t Throw that Dollar Bill into the Garbage (Food Waste)

The average family of four could save over $1,600 a year by sending less food into the garbage. That’s $30.77 an average family throws out per week, or $4.40 per day.

What gets measured gets managed. This is my attempt to quantify what this looks like in real live physical dollar bills in our everyday lives. Fair warning: Economist talk assumptions await you if you read further 🙂

The most common ways food is throw out at home are:

  • Leftovers from home-cooked meals
  • Leftovers from take-out or restaurant
  • “Expired” or “best used by date” confusion. Some of the time these foods are perfectly edible, so disposing of them is not a necessity.
  • Spoiled food from misestimating quantities needed or poor storage

After thinking about this and running some numbers on the cost of $4.40 per day wasted on food disposal per average family, I came to this conclusion:

Each time you or anyone in your household throws food away you can image one dollar bill going into the garbage.

How did I come up with that?

Rationale #1: Food varies in price, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s look at an apple. It’s reasonable to think of an apple as something most Americans eat at least occasionally. An apple is about a dollar apiece and that would be good sized handful of food. Some food would be less expensive (i.e. bulk lentils) and some more expensive (i.e. gourmet restaurant leftovers), but on average a dollar per handful makes sense.

Rationale #2: When you throw out food at home it’s about a good-sized handful in size, in general, on average. Scooping uneaten food from your plate, grabbing spoiled food from the fridge, or tossing leftovers is usually about a handful or so of food on average.

So that would mean on average our family of four (let’s call them the Smiths) will throw food away about 30 times week. This seems reasonable considering the following scenario and assumptions:

  • The Smiths will eat 84 meals (cooked at home, takeout, dine-in restaurant combined) in total (7 days x 3 meals per day x 4 people) for the week. For 21 of the meals there was food throw out, which means 21 handfuls of food wasted.
  • The Smiths throw out a nine handfuls of “expired” or spoiled food from the refrigerator or pantry during the week.

For each handful of wasted food, that’s a dollar bill that could otherwise be spent on other things. I’m sure the Smiths would love an extra $30/week to save or spend on other necessities or fun things. Even if you aren’t part of a family of four you can see the dollar bill going into the garbage principle still works: each handful of food is worth about a dollar and each time we throw away food it’s about a handful’s worth of food.

So what should we do? Check out FoodShift, which is a great resource for how we can reduce our food waste. They have some simple and effective ways for food storage, creative ways to use leftovers, understanding food dates, sharing food, composting, and tracking your progress.

Of course there will be times when some food, peels, etc. need to be disposed of and composting is the way to go for sure. Limiting the amount of waste that goes into the landfill is key and helps limit our carbon footprint.

Agree? Disagree? Please comment, share, etc. Thanks for reading.

What is a Sustainavore?

I was recently asked to define my definition of “Sustainavore” by Today’s Green Minute.

My overall “fork philosophy” is nourishing myself while contributing to the livelihood of other people, the planet, the community and local economy. Also, limiting any negative effects that may be the result of my food choices. Thinking of the whole cycle when making my food choices is important. Just as important is being grateful for the food and all the work and sacrifice that went into it. It is often difficult to stick with one strict philosophy all the time depending on location, season, what is available when and where.

Before we get into the details, being open to other food philosophies is essential. Not discounting or dismissing others’ food philosophies helps us understand what motivates people to eat the way they do. We can also get ideas to integrate into our own food choices by exploring other food philosophies.

Below are some basic guidelines I currently live by:

Meat (I believe in being selective about the meat I buy and eat):

  • Local Grass-fed and grass-finished red meat (super important to make sure it’s grass-finished. grass-fed and finished is healthier than grain-fed and better for the animals and the planet)
  • Buying from ranchers who use sustainable grazing practices (holistic management)
  • Local organic-fed  (or similar, non-GMO) chicken and eggs (dark golden yolks get me excited)
  • Eating nose-to-tail (not wasting any part of the animal) including organ meat and not so popular cuts (inexpensive and healthier than eating only muscle meat)
  • A little bit of fish, following the Monterey Bay Aquarium guidelines (my favorite is a local family that salmon fishes in Alaska in the summer and sells it locally in Boise)
  • Animal welfare and humane treatment of the animals
  • Wild game

Vegetables, Fruit and Grains:

  • Local organic (or similar) vegetables and fruit
  • Local when available

Buying Local:

  • Supporting the local economy, keeping money in the community/region
  • Supporting my local farmers, ranchers, food artisans, farmers markets and grocery stores that carry local items
  • Knowing who grows my food and how they grow it

Non-local specialty and out-of-season items (as with my other food choices, I am selective when it comes to something non-local):

  • Sometimes you just need something out of season or something that just isn’t grown in your area
  • Organic or similar, fair-trade, sustainable
  • Examples are cacao, chocolate, tea, berries out of season, coconut oil, some spices, quinoa

Reducing waste and composting (in the U.S. about 40% of our edible food goes to waste. according to the charity Feeding America, more than 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go unharvested or unsold each year):

  • Wasting as little food as possible (eating leftovers, not buying too much perishable food at once, sharing, being creative with food that could easily be tossed, making broth from bones)
  • Composting any food waste I possibly can

Limit processed foods (very small amount of my diet is reserved for processed foods):

  • Foods with the least amount of processing and the most natural
  • Frozen organic pizza, sprouted bread, coconut ice cream are a couple of examples

As Michael Pollan says in Food Rules, break the rules once in a while. I’m sure I’ll adjust my philosophy as our food system changes, evolves and improves. Please share your food philosophy!

Eat Ugly Carrots (a veggie short)

How do we feed the world? Preventing food waste is part of the solution. In the U.S. about 40% of our edible food goes to waste. According to the charity Feeding America, more than 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go unharvested or unsold each year. Eat Ugly Carrots looks at a common vegetable and provides a solution-based story about how and why we should eat those ugly carrots that might otherwise be thrown away. Eat Ugly Carrots was a collaboration between my brother-in-law, Mike Biagiotti, and me. Check out Mike’s other work at veryboringplace.com

Poetry: Death’s Life

Death’s Life:

Death to old patterns, not serving me and us
The soul is witnessing death, birth and life
Death to old ways, of thinking, ways that are not the way
Death to thinking for only a moment, is life

Death of old self at every moment
Birth of possibilities
Death of the stagnant blue flame

Rejuvenation, relief
Breathe out death, breathe in life
Belly and lungs are a universe

Growing out of what what I once was
Beautiful egg slime from the cracked shell of the self
Becoming again what I am

Death of the body
Carcass is beauty
Sacred bones, skin, muscle, tendons, organs, yummy fat of a White-Tailed Deer
brings the universe more life
Decay, bringing life and lively love
Death is reborn again