Opinion: forget about global warming, instead focus on your local issues and your quality of life

I wrote this as a comment in response to a WSJ article where 16 scientists argue with other scientists about global warming.

 

I, too, chafe at the global warming paranoia, not because I don’t believe it is happening, but because I understand how many would question it. Not only is it catastrophic, but it is also very hard to “see.” One overly hot day or overly cold day, or even a decade, could be argued a million ways.

The issue here is not just global warming —  it is also the smaller issues that add up to it. Overfishing in our seas has wiped out populations, disrupted food chains, eviscerated industries, ruined livelihoods, and more. It took an awful lot of folks seeing that destruction to finally come on board for sustainable fishing.

Water use in California, Arizona, and Nevada is wiping out the Colorado River, forcing everyone downstream of it and millions of Mexicans to face ever harsher conditions. The river is now practically dry before it completes its journey. It’s not like this is necessary either. Americans, and specifically those in drier areas, can stand to drastically reduce their water use. Cutting their use by a full 75% would barely make their lives harder.

I could keep going with more of these. Many would think that they are unrelated to global warming, but to me they are the components that comprise the problem as a whole (i.e. overconsumption, greed, waste). The reasons for their occurrence are varied, but the solution to them always results in lower carbon emissions.

I find it frustrating that our leaders have latched onto global warming as the cause of the decade. Perhaps they think it will scare enough people to action. I always expected it to have the opposite reaction, even a perverse “might-as-well-give-up” reaction.

If, instead, we localized these issues and focused on improving lives (i.e. make environmentalism selfish) I think people would be compelled to action. With the added benefit of preventing catastrophic global warming problems.

Plus, in my opinion, this is what the world will look and act like anyways, if we are to solve the climate change problem.

Juche – it means shop local if you’re a North Korean Communist

The Juche Idea is a political thesis of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which says that the Korean masses are the masters of the country’s development.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Kim elaborated the Juche Idea into a set of principles that the government uses to justify its policy decisions. Among these are independence from great powers, a strong military posture, and reliance on Korean national resources.

The name comes from juche, meaning “main body” or “mainstream,” and is sometimes translated in North Korean sources as “independent stand” or “spirit of self-reliance.” It has also been interpreted as “always putting Korean things first.”

According to Kim Il-sung, the Juche Idea is based on the belief that “man is the master of everything and decides everything.”

via Wikipedia

Juche – it means shop local if you're a North Korean Communist

The Juche Idea is a political thesis of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which says that the Korean masses are the masters of the country’s development.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Kim elaborated the Juche Idea into a set of principles that the government uses to justify its policy decisions. Among these are independence from great powers, a strong military posture, and reliance on Korean national resources.

The name comes from juche, meaning “main body” or “mainstream,” and is sometimes translated in North Korean sources as “independent stand” or “spirit of self-reliance.” It has also been interpreted as “always putting Korean things first.”

According to Kim Il-sung, the Juche Idea is based on the belief that “man is the master of everything and decides everything.”

via Wikipedia

2011 Mandzik-Senger Christmas Farm Spectacular

A German Christmas Eve

  • Bratwurst Sausage
  • Blaukraut (sauerkraut with red cabbage)
  • Bundt cake (“bundt” is derived from the German Bundkuchen)

The City Diner Breakfast

  • Coffee
  • Eggs with Potatoes
  • Flapjacks
  • Breakfast sausage or bacon
  • Butter (regular for me, soy butter for everybody else)
  • Maple Syrup with Cinnamon
  • Sliced Apples

Chesapeake Christmas Dinner

  • Fish with Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower Soup
  • Salad (greens, apples/pears, nuts, feta)
  • Bundt Cake

West Coast and Atlantic Northeast dominate U.S. in Farmers Markets (map)

A recent study from the USDA released this map of farmers markets. Notice that the Northeast and West Coast dominate (dark blue).

From the report:

“Direct-to-consumer sales are highest in the Northeast, on the West Coast, and around a few isolated metropolitan areas throughout the country.”

“Farms with direct-to-consumer sales are most likely to have neighbors who also participate in direct sales—this is a neighborhood effect”

…choosy moms choose farmers markets and the whole neighborhood improves?

“The West Coast has a long-standing system of farmers’ markets and farmerto-grocers’ marketing channels dating back to the 1970s. Small-scale farmers began selling organic and high value-added niche foods to upscale restaurants in the late 1970s (now a national trend) and are now part of farm-to-school marketing arrangements.”

“Another U.S. hot spot for local food sales is the Atlantic seaboard, particularly the Northeast census division. Local food sales farms in the Northeast generated 14.4 percent of U.S. local food production.”

Source: Direct and Intermediate Marketing of Local Foods in the US, USDA (page 11)

Chipotle: the model fast food chain

There are only a few places that I recommend eating at and Chipotle is one of them. The food is quality and the ownership cares equally about health and profits. Which sets them apart from all other fast food chains.

pronounced: chi-poht-lay

Our country has reached a strange time when a “green” company is booming during a recession. Yet, it is happening all across the country. Since 2006, Chipotle has tripled is revenue and doubled the number of stores.

Which makes it all the more unique that they don’t advertise on TV. They have no Ronald McDonald or Jared the weight loss wunder-kid (Subway).

Just what are they doing to convince you to buy their burritos?

They are raising prices and improving quality…and people are loving them for it!

Maybe Americans really do want good food, or perhaps they are beginning to recognize the quality difference. Either way this is worth looking into…

The story starts back in 1999, when founder Steve Ells visited a farm. What he saw was a CAFO and it disturbed him deeply. Ever since he has been on a mission to fix the problem.

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“I did not want Chipotle’s success to be tied to this kind of exploitation.”

Steve Ells, Founder & CEO

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Fast forward to today and Chipotle has one of the most effective sustainable and ethically sourced supply chains. They even buy meat from Polyface farms which was featured in the book Omnivore’s Dilemma.

They have an amazingly strong commitment to meat free of hormones, antibiotics, and cages. Produce that is organic, local, and fresh produce. Well, most of the time…

While the farmers markets in this country are exploding, the transition to big business is hitting roadblocks. Small farmers are great for us locavores, but to meet the needs of a typical Chipotle requires much more. A cooperative network of farms, trucks, coordinated deliveries, and processing facilities.

This means that Chipotle restaurants can’t go completely organic and sustainable. They have to wait for the infrastructure to be built, or build it themselves.

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Ells said in his statement to Congress:

“This move transformed the way we run our business…it set us on a journey to examine each of the ingredients we use to make our food, and how we could get them from more sustainable sources.”

Ells concedes that Chipotle’s business model is not easily replicated by other restaurant companies as the supply of ingredients from more sustainable sources is limited, and the costs tend to be higher for buyers of these better ingredients.

“Chipotle is a unique success story in that we have found a way to serve more expensive, sustainably raised ingredients, but in a way that remains affordable to the average customer.”

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I can’t say enough about what they are doing. We are all living in a better world because of their work.

If you want to learn more about Chipotle’s commitments visit their Food With Integrity program.

In the meantime, watch this 2-minute animation they made.

The song is a Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” and it’s pretty powerful:

This is not their first foray into the movie business. In 2009, the company sponsored free screenings of the movie Food Inc. in 32 cities.

For this short they are purchasing time to show it as a preview at 5,700 movie theaters around the country.

Thank you Chipotle!

Farmers markets grow 250% since 2000

I’m all about farmers markets. Every dollar I spend on food goes there and they provide me with everything I need to eat and more (dessert!).

The reason for all this is covered in several previous posts, including: Why nobody knows how to prevent obesity & How food coma overcomes exercising.

A quick recap is that by eating at farmers markets you gain superior health and weight loss, prevent global warming, and save money.

For the longest time, I wondered why nobody else understood this. It turns out that since 2000, many, many more people are starting to agree with me.

Check out the graph provided by the USDA in their annual farmers market audit:

Notice that since the recession, the so-called “expensive” markets are surging with 164% growth since 2006. If this trend continues we may finally be able to impact our food system.

I can already see it happening in the supermarkets where the words “farmer”, “market”, and “local” are everywhere. Too bad they are only marketing terms.

So next chance you have, stop by a farmers market for the real thing. Pick out some fruits and vegetables. Come back the same time next week and keep the farmers market revolution going!