Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler - New York Times

A very thoughtful and economical article on why we need to eat less meat, by Mark Bittman, the Times' food writer.

I'm not a doctrinaire vegetarian (I willingly eat meat at restaurants or when no other alternative is available), but I have to say the idea that the average American consumers eight ounces of meat per day is, well, frankly disgusting. I assume that is uncooked, but it would still equal two large hamburgers per day, or half a chicken. How in the world did we get to the point where that is the average?

That level of consumption makes no sense: It's expensive, it's categorically unnecessary and even harmful for good health, has horrific consequences for the environment... and, gosh darn it, the real kicker here, most meat that I see sold in restaurants and grocery stores is of low quality and is usually poorly prepared... So, it does not even TASTE good. I remember vaguely the last hamburger I had at McDonalds. It was salty, warm, greasy, and it tasted fine, but not particularly beefy, and it surely did not excite me to eat more...

Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler - New York Times:
"Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.

Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.

To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Garden happenings...

A warm day today, though that's predicted to change early this week, with temperatures dipping back into the upper thirties. I spent a couple of hours cleaning up the garden, trying to get things back into shape after the path and patio work. I noticed that my carambola and limão 'Cravo' had finally sprouted, and brought them outside to soak up the rays.

My friend Bill picked up me up an 'Owari' satsuma grafted onto Flying Dragon rootstock. I have a couple of other trees on Dragon: A 'Hamlin' orange (our 'native' DeLand orange) and a 'Honeybell' tangerine. The Dragon rootstock is dwarfing, keeping trees to below ten feet -- though from what I've read, the final verdict isn't in on their ultimate size. Bill has a grapefruit that's already at least nine feet in three years. In any case, the rootstock inarguable brings the trees into production earlier -- Bill's trees produced abundantly this year. My two trees went in the ground only last year, so I haven't had any fruits.

At Lowes, I picked up a Sanbokan Lemon (
Citrus sulcata) in a gallon pot for ten bucks... I think I'll grow it in a container, at least for this season. I swear, that's the last citrus I buy.

Let's see... In the veg beds: I'm really frustrated with my collards this season. I bought some plants at Lowes and I guess they must have been bum: Planted right next to Rappini, and while the Rappini has grown well, the collards are still tiny. The first salad greens of the season (planted the third week of September, so four months ago) are about to go to seed (which I'll collect). I have a bunch of 'Red Sails' just now coming into harvest size. To ensure salad until mid-May, I planted more 'Summer Glory' lettuce mix (Parks) last week, so when the Sails come down, there will be more rabbit food to replace it. Strawberries have finally started to produce well -- both patches yield a big handful a day. 'Purple Cherokee' tomatoes are just about ripe. 'Little Fingers' eggplant is recovering well from the freeze. Carrots need to be pulled, and 'Sea Foam' chard is ready to pick again.

Finally, I got in the mail earlier this week two figs that were recommended to me on the Fig Forum at GardenWeb: 'LSU Purple' and 'Celeste.' I got them at Johnson Nursery. They were smallish, maybe thirty inches (pruned) and the trunks were chopstick thick. No complaints, since they were only ten bucks each. Right now, they're sharing a large (thirty-gallon) pot. That brings to five my fig varieties: 'Alma,' 'Brown Turkey' and 'Kadota.' Because of their susceptibility to nematodes, the only fig in the ground is 'Alma.' If it grows without much problem, I'll transfer the others into the ground, too.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More Willis, seeds

Notes to self...

Got my Kadota Fig and Sunred Nectarine from Willis last night. Very impressed -- both much larger than advertised and they appeared in good shape. I put the Mission grape, the Hood Pear, the Pomegranate and Nectarine in the ground, and the Kadota in a big pot.

I also planted all the seeds from Swallowtail, except the Blackberry Lily, which needs to spend some time in the fridge. A lot of seeds!

Need to remember to prick the poppies. Candytuft is up, but Strawflowers are still not germinating. Need to plant more Nasturtiums -- between the Brazilians and the cold, only a couple survived.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Damage from the freeze.

My roses fared all right. The same cannot be said of my bananas, brugs, and daturas. And there was a bit of damage to my tomatoes, but nothing serious.

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Our patio remodel.

Between the freeze and the Brazilians, my garden's a mess. But I love the new patio and paths that wind through the flower part of my garden.

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"Behind the Seeds Tour" at Epcot

With in-laws in town, we spent the a warm day at Epcot. I took the "Behind the Seeds" tour, a tour of the "Living with the Land Boat Ride."

It's Disney's little "how green are we" show ride; I'm not sure I bought the line that Disney is in any way a green enterprise, or that its research will help feed the world. (On $5 a day, African villagers are supposed to buy hydroponic equipment? My support goes to ECHO, which tries to encourage global sustainability and feed the masses through ultra-low-tech methods.)

Let's face it, most of Florida is an environmental wasteland, and at the center of it sits the tens of thousands of acres around the theme parks south of Orlando. (OK, OK, the center is Big Sugar and the sweet corn industry... The parks are just the inner ring.) What's more, I sat through a thirty minute show on global energy sources (hosted by Ellen Degeneres!) that was revolting for its carefully calibrated discussion of global warming and alternative sources of energy. It was like a kindergarten teacher's graduation day address, only instead of five-year-olds, it was gas and oil conglomerates who each had "something special to contribute." Oh, and global warming is a "hot topic"... hah. But at least it didn't hedge on whether dinosaurs are God's way of testing my faith...

I try hard to ignore the waste and gluttonous consumption that Disney represents, because the kids really enjoy it. It's hard for me not to sound like an old man (I'm not!) or a grouch when I talk about Disney and the parks.

Anyway, about the "Behind the Seeds" tour. More for the hoi polloi than the dedicated gardener. Fair enough. The discussion of Integrated Pest Management was mostly about how cute ladybugs are. And I'm not convinced that hydroponic growing is an improvement over old-fashioned dirt and compost. It certainly is cooler. But the demonstration garden had some really impressive vertical gardening involved, and the tropical gardens were very interesting.

Here's a short slide show of what caught my eye. Better yet, watch it on my Picasa account.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tomato Growers Supply Order...

I'm going to grow a few more tomatoes this spring than last...

#5859 - SunSugar FT Hybrid - 30 seeds.

#5532 - Southern Night - 30 seeds.

#5186 - Florida Pink - 30 seeds.

#3460 - Tomande VFFNT Hybrid - 30 seeds.

Record daily maximum snowfall set at Daytona Beach

Record Report

Statement as of 4:55 PM EST on January 03, 2008

... Believe it or not...
... Record daily maximum snowfall set at Daytona Beach...

A few snow flurries were reported along the Volusia County coast
from around 7 am to 930 am this morning. A brief flurry occurred at
the offical climate site... the Daytona Beach international Airport.
The result of this flurry is a record snowfall of a trace. This of
course piled higher than the old record for this date of none.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Stay warm, plants!

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The coming freeze...

Thirty degrees tonight, twenty-four tomorrow night... At least my fruit trees will get the chill they need.
Shed becomes refugee camps for zonal misfits...
My beloved chard. I harvested a ton today. I have no idea how tender the stuff is, so I decided to pick the large leaves, and heavily mulch the remaining small leaves.
Almost peaceful. Another advantage to growing on trellises and strings -- making these tents was a breeze. I strung Christmas lights up the tomatoes, and added a shop light to keep them warm.
My haunted garden. Bromeliads, gingers, begonias and philodendrons. All of them fairly tender.