Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stuff!!! Is it all necessary?

Imbedded in my long post a few days ago was this link to the movie about stuff that I really love. I wanted to repost it in a shorter post so that it doesn't get lost in the many of words of my last post!

Today Wildman Sprout's best friend's mama and I were talking and she was wondering if we like to hike (hee hee!!) lead to a quick agreement that we aren't ever planning on supplying Wiis or X-boxes for our boys which means we are going to need to be intentional about what we do when friends come over. When the family is heading out for a weekend backpacking trip or a day hike or a XC ski, we agreed that we need to stop for a second and include each other. It's probably easier to have the electronic toys, but with a little more intentional practice, I think we can happily avoid this. We'll see.

I know that today as I cleaned our Sprout's rooms, I realized that they don't have a single battery powered toy. It's not a conscious decision - it's just that every time they load up boxes to send to GoodWill, they put those battery powered toys in there but keep all the markers, craft supplies, Legos, Kitchen supplies, Tinker Toys, and building blocks. Check out Magic Cabin for a pluthera of toys for kids that believe in "Kid powered toys" not Battery Powered Toys. (Their mission has been guided by the simple notion that children's lives are enriched by ample time for open-ended, creative, imaginative play. They believe in good-old-fashioned make believe and in children's innate need to interact with simple, natural toys and crafts.) The toys that sing to my sprouts and blink at them don't let them stay creative and ultimately, they quickly lose their interest. The toys that allow for open-ended, limitless possibilities like a pile of Legos or building blocks they never grow tired of.

I wanted to point it out again!! Head on over to to watch a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Let me know your thoughts as you battle the issue of stuff!! Let's brainstorm ideas of things to have around the house that could foster creativity, keep the kid's interested, and avoid the marketing traps (kids are the highest targeted niches in marketing. Boardrooms are full of people figuring out ways to get our kids to think they will not be happy without "It" and our kids are believing the billionaire tycoons.)

All ideas submitted by Thursday, Oct 2nd (I'd love a list of great website resources too in this vain) will be posted on Friday, Oct 3rd with your blog address. Great way to get more readers noticing your site!!

My ideas:
  • Our garage has a treadmill in it for rainy days. The kids like to run on that for fun.
  • Our garage has a pretty high end foosball table in it - our family routinely has foosball tournaments
  • Craigslist - find cheap deals on foosball, pingpong, and pool tables
  • Dart boards
  • Croquet, volleyball, and badminton for the backyard
  • B-Ball hoop for the front yard
  • BIKES!!! Scooters!! Rollerblades and skateboards, oh my!!
  • Board games
  • Puppets
  • Wooden Blocks, Legos, Tinker Toys, Marble maze construction sets
  • Doll houses/farm animals
  • Kitchen sets/tool sets
  • Crafts - keep that craft bucket packed!!
  • Puzzles
  • Marbles, Jacks, Pick up sticks

Friday, September 26, 2008

America We are going to be fine! Relax (but live your Wage)

Dear friends gave us the best Christmas gift in 2006 - the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace CDs - which preach (in a very humorous and Godly way) - LIVE YOUR WAGE!!! Check out his website for inspiring testimonials of folks who did it - and how they did it - They got themselves completely out of debt (including the mortgage). Real folks like us taking on the challenge to live within their means. I love it!

For the Oregonians reading this, He will be doing a live event in Portland, OR at the Colliseum - He's extremely entertaining - teaching Godly principals to our money management and some of the many errors in our suppositions. So if you are reading this thinking, "There is no way! I can't even begin to make this a goal. This is crazy thinking!" you might benefit from peaking at his website and maybe going to a Financial Peace University Class or this Live Event in Portland so that you can see the benefits to it and the "how" behind it and the Godly reasons behind the "why" of it all.

With the insights he taught us, we aggresively dove in to pay off our truck, car, thousands of dollars of medical expenses, and trailer payments. In one school year, we pulled $10,000 from our budget and accomplished this goal by simply being intentional with each dollar we spent.

Now, we are aggressively hitting our mortgage. We are in our early 30s but our goal is to own (not OWE ON) our house in 5 to 7 years. We have a real plan for this (which mainly centers around Simplicity) to truly accomplish this. Our house is on the market - if it sells,we plan to go smaller and simpler as that is truly what we can afford (although lenders are willing to lend us over $300K, but they don't really care how stressed that would make us) - if it doesn't sell, we are going to up payments so that in about 5 to 7 years, we own it. Dave Ramsey's perspective was hard to swallow at first - he is strong about his beliefs, but backs them up with God's word. The current crisis is because broke people tried to buy too much. (says Ramsey: "Greedy banks financing homes to broke people. It all seemed to work okay in their minds when the economy was booming, but when the economy slowed a little bit broke people quit paying on their subprime mortgages. DUH. No wonder they went out of business. Stupid decisions." )

We, in America, have been duped into this 30 year mortgage propaganda - truly, our new realization is this: if we have to spread payments out over 30 years to own this house then we are buying OVER our Wage and this is not being good stewards of our cash.

What I seek to do on this blog is touch on all areas of life that help us be balanced - spirit, mind, andbody - and finances fit right smack in the middle of all of this.

We did not take out an equity loan or refinance our house to pay off debt (that is NOT paying off the debt - What that is is taking the 5 year loan on the car out to 30 years inside of a mortgage payment) - what we did and continue to do is seek Simplicity, buy less, buy local, and live our Wage. It is so freeing to be down to simply a mortgage payment and I can't even imagine how free it will feel to be able to live without a mortgage or rent payment.
  • God can use us so much more when we aren't strapped to working non-stop just to pay that bill, but are freed up to do things like A. long-term missions, B. more time with our family (joy joy joy!!), or C. Give more.
  • Another reason we did not take out an equity loan or refinance our house to pay off our debts is that this practice does not work on the fundamental issue - overspending. It doesn't help us redirect our budget so that we can make our expenses fit within our (small) teacher's salary! By working to pay off loans, we taught ourselves how to live our wage, live within our budget, and be empowered by spending habits that lead to financial freedom, not controlled by debt.

    It requires a divorce from our incessant craving of "stuff". (Head on over to to watch a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.)

    Check out for tips on saving on groceries, buying a car (cash!!), and cell phone hidden expenses you can avoid.

Over the past month, we’ve witnessed the largest bankruptcy in history, the stock market dropping like a rock, and the talking heads on TV freaking out that the world is coming to an end. I’m here to tell you the truth—we’re going to make it. We’re going to be fine. Take a chill pill.
This month I’ve compiled some of the most-asked questions I’ve gotten recently from you:

Are we okay, Dave?
Definitely. Remember Enron and WorldCom in the recent years? We survived that. But much worse than all this was the financial crisis of the ‘80s – S&L collapse and 1,000 bank failures in 2 years. We’re nowhere near this type of thing; that was probably 50 to 100 times worse than all of this.

What does all of this come back to?
Greedy banks financing homes to broke people. It all seemed to work okay in their minds when the economy was booming, but when the economy slowed a little bit broke people quit paying on their subprime mortgages. DUH. No wonder they went out of business. Stupid decisions.
Is there anything we can do to fix this bailout mess?
YES! Here's a quick summary: Companies that had billions in subprime loans were feeling the effects of their stupid decision to make those loans in the first place, and practically gave them away for pennies on the dollar. But since no one wants these loans, and they've had to mark them down to market value, it has frozen the market. If we temporarily change the rule that forces companies to do that, that will free the market up.
This is an absolutely huge deal, and it involves everyone getting in touch with their congressperson before we spend hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't need to! Learn more

Will the collapse of businesses and banks affect me?
No, not unless you work there. Thousands of stock brokers on Wall Street have lost their jobs in the past few weeks, but that happens in other industries across the country in good and bad times. This time it just happened in NYC where all the national news media is so they made a big deal of it.

Should I sell my US stocks to buy gold and foreign stocks?
Absolutely not! Why would you think foreign stocks are any better than US stocks? Again, diversify your money in good growth stock mutual funds instead.

What practical lessons should small business owners learn from these bank difficulties?
When you have no cash, you freakin’ go broke. You must keep some cash on hand, no matter what kind of business you have. Give yourself some wiggle room where you can take a hit and still be standing.

Remain calm, America. We’re in a slow time, but just pay your bills and you’re going to be fine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lessons from our vent

On today's run, God just poured the ideas I will share in this post into my heart and it all started first thing in the morning with this greeeting in the living room:

For underneath this blanket in the ballooned air from the vent, was a little girl giggling with delight at the warm cocoon she was in. My mind flashed back to 2 weeks ago when I must have said something about the fact that it was getting colder again, to which she said, "oh I can't wait!! Then I can wake up to the warm air coming out of the vents and I can cuddle up until breakfast!"

So, seeing her there I knew this: she was thinking of nothing else but that at that moment, she was perfectly happy, perfectly content.

Oh the lessons of a child. On my run, I pondered this. I pondered the percentage of time, a young child, such as this, spends thinking about the past, present, and future.

I realized when I did this little estimation the secret to her joy - she lives in the NOW. When a baby is born they are 100% in the present in every thought. As children grow up, they slowly start adding some thoughts to their repertoire that include a little past thinking and a little future thinking.

I would say that my 5 year old is 90% thinking about the moment, 5% thinking about the past, and 5% thinking about the future. My 7 year old has moved into 70% now, with 20% in the past and 10% in the future. I dare not estimate my breakout.

In thinking about our 7 year old, I analyzed a bit about his past thoughts. They consist of things like past things he's learned that allow him to keep learning (The ABCs of his 2 year old days are now 15 chapter "chapter books" that he pours through), scarey moments ("Last time I rode my bike too fast on this hill and crashed...OK, this time I'll go slower" then Boom, he's back in the present "Mama! Look at me! I can fly!!"), and the finally in his past storage compartment lies a few hurts he's picked up in his little life.

It's these hurts that continue to pile up as we gain years that ultimately can trap us more and more in the past and not release us to just be happy in the moment and to see how God could use us in that moment. It's the lack of too many hurts that mean my 5 and 7 year old's future thoughts are full of hope and excitment ("it's almost my birthday!", "When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian!" etc.) No fear in their future thoughts either...just belief, hope, and excitement.

I love it hot outside. On a 90 degree day, I will go on a 7 mile run smack dab at noon. So when I see the thermometer dip, I don't think about the warm vent air greeting me in the morning. I think of dangerous icey roads, more colds, all these extra coats/hats/ scarves/gloves I now need to juggle for the family and just the physical pain that being cold brings me. These children in my life don't think about all the mornings ahead of scraping frost of the car, they are just perfectly stuck in their NOW - "warm vent is cozy. I like it. I am happy".

They embody what the Power of Now being lived out looks like. And I want that. I want to be walking my each moment, free of the yuck from the past so I am free to keep dreaming, hoping, and living my days bringing glory to HIM as I am free to worship Him with a single-mindedness that can only come when we leave baggage at the foot of the cross (our past junk) and embrace our every moment with an eye on God.

My two sprouts giggling at the vent this morning taught me so much and the Word of God formalized my lesson as I read this verse in my Bible study 20 minutes after getting back from my run:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

- Isaiah 43: 18-19

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A summer review in photos

I finally am processing my photos since Jan 2008. Now no one wants to see pictures of us in snow at this juncture. I've got to improve this!! When looking at the summer shots we got I couldn't resist a quick summary of the best of this last summer for the 'ole blog world to see. Every day for 10 weeks we played, climbed, laughed, held hands, played, and explored. This is just a sampling of the joy that comes from togetherness.

This last weekend, our backpacking trip into Obsidian Falls pushed our walking odometer reading past 100 miles. Stats from this summer:
  • 105 miles on the trail for StudHusband and myself
  • 70 miles on the trail for the 5 and 7 year old sprouts (60 of which were in Aug and Sept)
  • 2500 miles on the ro
  • 700,205 smiles
  • 867,000 moments to hold hands or hug
  • 740 miles run so far in 2008 as of Sept 15th by me (Geez, when I add it up like that it makes me realize that I need to get shoes more often than I do!! :)

Taken at the summit of a 10 mile day hike out of Anthony Lakes

Anthony Lakes was a relaxing week of fishing, hiking, and enjoying friends.

Cade fell in love with fishing - we have about 18 trout in our freezer but he threw back at least another 20 more.

Princess Sprout is the Picture of summer relaxation:

A little Baker City Oregon Trail Interpretive Center added depth to our Oregon Trail theme of the summer.
Taken on the way up to the top of Mt Howard - featuring the Hummus Gnome. Hummus seemed to appear in every single lunch this last summer. Needless to say, we are taking a hummus break for now!

Taken atop Mt Howard, outside of Wallowa State Park. Instead of spending the $80 to take the tram ride to the top, in true "O- family-style", we figured out a route up the backside. Kiddos hiked 10 miles that day, gaining about 2500 feet in elevation. We enjoyed a yummy meal at the top in the highest restaurant in Oregon.

Celebrating our arrival at the top.

The faces of happy kids - full of hope, filled with joy, surrounded by love:

Enjoying time in the depths of our favorite Oregon Wilderness - The Eagle Caps -where quiet was defined, and peace was captured

I just love that our kids are so at home out in the wilderness. They easily amuse themselves and remain completely content and want for nothing but the moment at hand.

Candid moment - adoration captured on film

Friday, September 12, 2008

Road trip for Peaches

Why would anyone drive for 2 1/2 hrs in one direction for peaches? In an effort to get as local and organic of peaches that I could find, I grabbed a friend and headed for the Columbia Gorge Organic Produce farm in Hood River, OR. I go every year and get hundreds of dollars of organic white and yellow peaches, apples, pears, and nectarines. I called every fruit stand in my area to find that the same box of peaches would cost about $55! By going to the source, I got the 20 pound boxes for $15/each. Sitting under the majestic gaze of Mt. Hood lies this amazing farm with sustainable practices for the earth that produce fruit that is packed with nutrition. Truly, eating a non-organic peach is worse for you than just not eating it at all for imbedded in the flesh, are about 4 different carcinogenic poisons.

Is organic worth it? Does it matter? My dad always teases me that if it grows, it's organic. Yes, biologist daddy, you are right. But Organic in this sense means so much more. It means it's full of sometimes as much as 75% more nutrients than it's conventionally grown counterpart. That's huge!

  • But, these practices sustain our earth. I talked with Robby one of the owners/farmers at Columbia Gorge Organics who told me that after 19 years of organically farming, their farm now has it's own healthy population of predator insects. Their conventional farmer neighbors are still spending tons of dollars on petroleum based, poisonous pesticides. What this means is the intricate God-ordained balance of plants, insects, birds, mammals, and microbes that surprise farmers even after a lifetime of discoveries as they obeserve their outdoor world are at work on Robby's farm!! These farmers watch cliff swallows eat up leafhoppers and grasshopers and purple martin birds devour crane flies. The reason Columbia Gorge Organics never uses pesticides is because pesticides would KILL their God-given pesticides (these birds and other good predatory insects!). The prosepct of blanketing them all with toxic dust even once, let alone routinely, strikes these farmers as self-destructive, like purposely setting fire to their crops or barn.
Genetic resistance to man-made pesticides is a real evolutionary phenomenon. These resistances get stronger and stronger with each generation of plants. More than 500 species of insect and mites now resist our chemical controls, along with over 150 viruses and other plant pathogens. More than 270 of our recently developed herbicides have now become ineffective for controlling some weeds. Some 300 weed species resist all herbicides. (from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, page 165). 20% of these approved for use pesticides are listed by the EPA as carcinogenic in humans.
  • Robby told me how so many neighboring conventional farmers are coming to him with their woes of poor crop yield in complete envy of his gorgeous, abundant trees. See, Robby hasn't destroyed his soil with these pesticides and herbicides that promise to kill and produce good yield. Maybe for the first years farmers feel victorious over the pests, but eventuallly, they are left with complete destruction. Soil in Robby's fields are tested constantly and prove to be rich with nutrients - and the beautiful fruit proves the test results. His neighbors are struggling with more pests then ever, pathetic looking trees, and small yield. The fruit they bear contains poisonous components imbued throughout the flesh of the fruit.

And the death conventional farmers yields is a scarey silence. There are no birds or butterflies flying over their trees. No beneficial predator insects. They have been killed long ago. An estimated 67 million birds die each year from pesticide exposure on U.S. farms (Kingsolver, page 221).

  • Organic produce actually delivers more nutritional bang for the buck. Fruits and veggies grown organically have had to fight off their predators themselves. If noone is spraying chemicals on these plants, these plants can't take off running for their lives. They are stuck in the field without a way to escape, so they have to toughen up by manufacturing their own disease/pest-fighting compounds. That's why organic produces shows significantly higher levels of antioxidants than conventional - these nutritious compounds evolved in the plant not for OUR health, but for the plant's. (Camille Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Page 170).
Research done by Allison Byrum of the American Chemical Society, have shown fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides and herbicides to contaion 50 to 60 percent more antioxidants thatn their sprayed counterparts. The same antioxidants that fight diseases and pests in the plant leaf work similar magic in the human body, protecting us not so much against hornworms as against various diseases, cell aging, and tumor growth.

  • Buying organic brings you a considerable bigger nutrient bang for your buck and it also brings major environemental benefits.
Organic agriculture, which allows insect predator populations to retain a healthy presence in our fields, breaks the pesticide destructive cycle (Kingsolver, page 165).

Enjoy a yummy, juicy organic peach today!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A moment to just "be"

God has blessed us with wonderful friends in our home town. But for this post, I am going to share a bit about "old" friends. Old and New bless us alike. Here's a look at some friends that have been in our life for about 10 years.

These are friends that have history together - supporting each other in very hard life struggles and exciting victories as we seek to have our lives point to God's glory in it all. It's amazing all the stories wrapped up in these 5 families (missing a few for sure that couldn't make it) - and it's such a blessing to be apart of these stories, walking through life and praying for each other through it all as we go. In these pictures hides life stories like supporting a husband as he finishes his doctorate, enduring the deep grief of losing one's first born at full-term, dealing with a son that might have Asperger's Syndrom (autism), almost losing a 4 year old daughter to Ecoli, adopting a beautiful little girl from India, just returning from a mission trip in China, working through 2 years of major family health issues, moving home after 10 years of living 1000 miles away, grieving together as we lost one of "our own" in Jeanne Hazelton's 3 year battle with Breast Cancer on her 48th b-day, supporting each other as our pastor of 3 young kids nearly died with a sudden brain aneuryism and having the joy more than 10 years later of his miraculous recovery, and working through and becoming stronger in the Lord because of the difficulties that ultimately closed our church down and so much more. The deep sadnesses of life and the triumphs, all shared together, even now as we are spread out across this Oregon land.

2 families at the last minute weren't able to come, and many more families that make up this rich circle of friendship were also not there but the entire Labor Day campout passed in a fast whir of non-stop talking, catching up, religious and political conversations, and tons of laughter.

All Beavers (except for one couple!) from the land of Corvallis, OR, we have similar world views, God views, and political views making conversations rich in depth and infinitely encouraging.

The Girls. All friends since before kids arrived on the scene. Just as happy doing a Victorian Tea party together as we are mountain biking, backpacking, camping, swapping latest book reads or crafting (quilting and scrapbooking being our favorites!) together. It's possible that I am a bit happier camping then a couple of these hardy gals, but they all do it with smiles! I am continuously amazed at the balance these friends seek in their lives between God, personal fitness, professional careers, creative parenting, continuous collegiate education, gardening, and home cooking!

The Guys (mine is the one on the far left). Guys that can talk about God 'till 2 in the morning around a campfire, give each other a good night hug (to say, "even though we don't totally see eye to eye on everything, I love you bro!") , and then get up the next day and rip out a killer mountain bike ride together.

Guy + Girl = LOTS OF KIDS - and here they all are!!

And this final picture, sums up the sentiments of our Labor Day annual camping trip.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ansel Adams Wilderness

Here's a couple of pictures of the last week of our 5 week trip:

We arrived in Mammoth Lakes as the jumping off point for this incredible 4 day trek.

In true California style, we had to catch a shuttle to get to the trailhead.

In more California style, the bears are everywhere. A huge, nearly 600 pound male bear came into our camp the last night. SH chased it down the valley, throwing rocks and yelling at it. No one else camped at Summit Lake was interested in assisting - they let my Davey Crockett do it. We could hear his yells echoing for miles in that canyon. Later we learned that this is a notorius bear and is becoming dangerous...they are now not recommending that you throw rocks at bears (seemed obvious to me) as they are being more known to turn on folks.

These were the hurking huge bear cannisters we each had to carry.

Our route started at Agnew Meadows. We hiked past Shadow Lake until we reached our first night's resting spot, pictured below - Ediza Lake, a beauty perched 9300 feet high and surrounded by 12,000 and 14,000 foot peaks.

Picture below is Ice Lake - the lake at 9700 feet where StudHusband and I both realized that I was going to do awesome this trip, the years of sickness were over, and where we changed our easier route, adding an extra 20 miles to include 3 more high mountain lakes.

Day 2 we headed to the most enchanting spot for me - Garnett Lake. We came over a 10,200 foot pass and as we dropped down into this high lake basin I was overwhelmed with the beauty. It was the largest lake I have ever seen out in the wilderness with massive granite peaks surrounding it and an adorable island in the middle of it. The sun was dancing on the water in the most peaceful and profoundly beautiful way. It was my favorite.

The next day we headed to Thousand Island Lake, ate a quick snack, pumped water and then went on to our 3rd night destination called Summit Lake - where Brudus the bear visited us. This lake felt like it was on the edge of the world, absolutely blew us away.

On the way back to Oregon, we took Tioga pass over and through Yosemite National Park. Here we stand and clearly I am feeling quite victorious in this picture - I had just completed a rocking trip of 35 high elevation miles in the most gorgeous wilderness I have ever experienced: The Ansel Adams Wilderness on the John Muir Trail and PCT trail.

Happy 12 years of marriage to my hiking partner for life. I can't wait to go back with you and do the entire John Muir trail - 200 miles of some of the most gorgeous land on earth.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why a localized economy matters

After being gone all summer, I sadly noticed the huge amount of businesses on our Industrial side of town that are out of business. I know some of these folks. I talked to one lady, mom of my son's best friend, who said because of Lowe's and Home Depot's arrival in our town, they will probably only make it for 1 or 2 more years.

How sad. How horribly sad to have to see another family move and struggle. All because consumers choose to do the easiest (and possibly save a few dollars) choice. These are our neighbors, our friends, our community members. And with every dollar we spend we are in effect looking these neighbors in the eyes and saying, "No thank you".

So, another business goes under and with it more local money gets diverted to national and international corporate tycoons. Less money in my town means the schools get less money, local businesses suffer, social services suffer, police monetary support wanes, infrastructure suffers and even more people get sucked down. But Wal-Mart still proudly proclaims "Always" as you enter , and sadly it does so simultaneously while my many local friends now have to shut their stores and say "never again". When they leave they take with them jobs that can earn a real living and leave in their wake jobs that keep people below poverty. They take with them the richness of who they are that could contribute to us as a community being who we are. They take with them the unique personality that small businesses still have.

For years we have shopped at Ace Hardware - full of local retired men who are friendly, helpful, and extremely knowledgable. I was worried for them when the super power stores moved in, but they said they would keep up the good fight. The other day as I got some paint, I was greeted by a man in a suit behind the counter and his wife. I knew this couple! They go to my church. All along, I supported a local family with each Ace Hardware purchase that was trying to make a living because i stopped worrying too much if I spent an extra buck on a gallon of paint (it might even be less then Home Depot paint, I wouldn't know and I don't care). I smiled had a great conversation with them and promised them I would always check their store first for all building supplies I might need.

Each family that leaves my town because too many "No Thank yous" added up to not enough money to keep the doors open, takes with them a piece of what makes my town what it is.

I want to see them succeed. I want to keep their cute little friendly hardware store alive. I want to see them get to stay in our town, contributing all that their family contributes. I don't want to see them struggle.

It starts with the simple choice I have each day as I tackle my To-Do list.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Why I took back the socks

Summer breeds long talks. Talks while driving. Talks while hiking. Talks while just sitting on a beach watching sprouts swim and splash.

This summer bred more dreams and visions then ever before. Dreams to be completely debt free in 5 to 7 years (all we have left to go is our mortgage).

As well, dreams to continue to make choices that are sustainable for our land, our bodies, our communities. For us, that drew us to discussions on localized economies.

How much fuel is it taking to get that banana or carrot to my store shelf? And how much ridiculous amount of petroleum was used up to get 6 measly socks to our local Wal-Mart? How does buying these socks support our local economy and keep my neighbors working? Can I keep supporting this?

I can't be and won't be a purist but we will try to do better.

I bought socks (not at Wal-Mart) but still ended up getting "Made in China" socks. However, I made a choice to eat last nights dinner from 100% local food, that was organic.

If every U.S. Citizen ate just one meal a week *any meal* that was composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels EVERY week. (not gallons!! BARRELS!!) Small changes in buying habits, can make a difference.

Americans put almost as much fossil fuel into our refrigerators as our cars. 400 gallons of oil a year per citizen (17% of our nation's energy use) is for agriculture. It includes tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigation, sprayers, tillers, balers, and other petroleum guzzling equipment. But the biggest gas guzzlers from the farm are from the inputs: synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides all use oil and natural gas as their starting materials and in their manufacturing. Switching to organic means you are eating produce that does not utilize high petroleum and oil based poisons on your food. Seems like a win -win to me (earth and your body are happier for the change!).

The trip from the farm to your plate is what takes up four-fifths of the total oil used for our food. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles.

So we compromised. We bought the China socks (for now it's all we could find) but ate veggies grown in a farm owned by our friend with riccotta cheese I made from Raw Goat Milk I get in my own town.

The best quote I read this summer:
How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how
the world is used."

Resources used for this post
David Pimentel, Marcia Pimentel, and Marianne Karpenstein-Machan, "Energy Use in Agriculture:An Overview"
Richard Manning, "The Oil We Eat, " Harper's Magazine, February 2004
U.S. Energy Information Administration:
Barbara Kingsolver, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", 2007, p.5.