Greener On The Other Side

  • The other day, a friend of mine turned me on to another friends blog, which in turn, led me to yet another blog (um, we all know this routine), eatlocalchallenge.com.  A visit to my local health food store turned up a few local items from one of the local growers.
  • A friend and fellow healthy living advocate, Susanne Morrone, delivered a beautiful presentation the other night at a local venue, on the dangers of everyday toxins.  There were very few attendees.
  • I’m considering starting a co-author blog about sustainability in Walton County, so I did some searching to see what Walton County would reveal about itself to the world via the internet.  The results weren’t completely disappointing, though there was less enthusiasm than I anticipated.

I mention these three things because they’ve been on my mind lately.  It’s not a secret to those who know me that I haven’t been very happy about where I live.  I’ve been here 10 years now and it’s been a love-hate thing.  You see, the beach is gorgeous & peaceful.  The weather is down right fabulous for about 8 months of the year.  The crime rate is low, creating a seemingly safer environment to raise children.  Life is easier, slower and laid back.  That’s the love part.  The dislike (hate’s just too harsh, really) part is the resort-transient-detachment sentiment that seems to infiltrate this place and wreak havoc on the best intentions for creating a more sustainable community.  Hence, I’ve viewed my existence here through jaded glasses, a temporary stop.  The glass was always half empty, grass always greener on the other side.

I have to admit that I do bear the responsibility for the past of not engaging more in practices that would bring about the changes I wished to see around me.  10 years here and I’m just now starting to frequent the health food store on a regular basis.  Prior to that I just did a lot kvetching.  Not very productive.  Better now than never I suppose.

This year has found me becoming more involved with the things I care about, issues of sustainability and green living.  In the past several months, the view has changed to one of opportunity, an opportunity to connect with like minded individuals (no matter how small in number) and provide a source of inspiration to others.

In the movie, Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, I’m reminded of a remark that Zinn made at the pre-beginning of his career; he wanted to go anywhere but the south.  For reasons I would speculate that he would not be welcome and/or surrounded by like-minded individuals.  And to the South, he was sent, where he had a tremendous impact on many peoples lives.  Not that I fancy myself as a pioneer of the Zinn caliber, I just want to make the point that if we always surround ourselves with people like ourselves, we may limit our and their potential for growth.

This leads me to one other item that’s been on my mind, a dissertation I just read by Rob Hopkins, Energy Descent Pathways: evaluating potential responses to Peak Oil.  I purchased the dissertation that was just published because 1. I’ve read some of Hopkins writings and found them thought provoking and 2.  I want to explore other ways to address sustainability in South Walton County.

Hopkins dissertation begins with reviewing the literature surrounding Peak Oil from the concept and history, to critics and proponents.  He then explores potential scenarios and outcomes.  Hopkins leans toward re-localization as the movement that will have the greatest appeal in an energy transitioning time and proposes the question : “is peak oil a crisis or an opportunity?”  With this idea firmly planted, he opens up the door to what causes people to change their behavior, behavior of the addictive sort, dependancy.  In the final chapters, he outlines elements that a community may incorporate and implement in response to energy descent.  The dissertation presents another view that’s somewhat hopeful in terms of what the future may or could hold provided communities take the necessary steps to prepare now.  Essential reading for anyone following Peak Oil and those interested in exploring new ideas regarding sustainability and behavior modification.

On another related note, I’m somewhat obsessed with this eat local challenge that I may very well starve to death if I dare try in my current location.  Unless, of course I supplement my diet with tender young ferns, acorns and hearts of saw palmetto.   I suppose if I expanded the radius from 100 miles to 250, it would encompass portions of Alabama and Georgia that may indeed suffice for other food sources.  If nothing else, it’s made me sit up and take notice at the health food store (or any grocery store for that matter) of how far our food travels before it gets to our kitchens.  I recently inquired about 2 different types of shrimp available at the local grocery chain.  Keep in mind, I live in Florida.  The shrimp were the same size, though different color (species).  The pink Florida shrimp caught somewhere in south Florida were $13.99/ lb.  The already de-veined shrimp of comparable size were $9.99/ lb…origin…Thailand.  There is something definitely wrong with this picture, a shrimp caught within 500 miles is $4/lb more than a shrimp caught in waters 10,000 miles away…and it’s been de-veined!!!  WTF?  I’m sure there is a rational explanation for this, probably that the shrimp in Thailand were caught by means that would not hold up to the current regulations set forth for our local shrimpers.  All the more reason not to purchase the apparently “less expensive” shrimp.

And those are my thoughts for the week…

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7 thoughts on “Greener On The Other Side

  1. wow! Excellent essay! Hey,I think you should put a link to the ‘eat locally challenge’… interesting about the shrimp here- did not know that! You are a chock full of info aren’t ya’?!

  2. my mother told me recently that even the phillips label crabmeat that she sees on the grocer’s shelf is from indonesia. phillips, a baltimore “legend” is putting their label on imported crabmeat. i can’t help but wonder if the “maryland crabcakes” they sell at lexington market are also made with indonesian meat. the horror!

    along the same lines (but not), look at what american cotton farmer’s subsidies have done to the cotton farmers all the way over in africa. (can’t seem to get a link in here so i’ll link the old fashioned way: http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol17no1/171agri4.htm )

  3. the november issue of Sierra mag has a bunch of great articles on grocery/food/organics if you can find it down there. had a little toilet reading with it this weekend…

    that is interesting about the shrimp. i would imagine it has to do with how the shrimp is harvested. shrimping practices are so lethal to the environment, specifically the wetland ecosystems and turtles. i’ll see if i can find some of the resources for that…

  4. S.O. – The links at the top and on my blogroll.

    L. – Thanks for sharing that link. I think a lot of people don’t realize how subsidies have changed the landscape of the world as well as the real value/ cost of goods. In this instance, globalization has not necessarily been a good thing.

    The M. – thanks to your enlightenment several years ago on the shrimp issue, I’ve been shamed into shrimp abstinence, though occassionally, I slip up and buy a pound or 2. So, beat me.

  5. is that the invitation i’ve always needed? 😉 no, i know… i do it too. but i will never forget the night i spent two hours making this fabulous shrimp risotto and when i put it on the table, i got a huge lecture. now if i’m going to eat it, i don’t feel guilty but eat consciously. there’s nothing like spicy tempura shrimp rolls…

  6. The shrimp price difference doesn’t surprize me.

    Most of the cost is not from techniques used or shipment cost but from labour cost. Simply the $4 difference is what allows them to compete and export. Whether this is a good or bad thing I don’t know (I am taking a lecture called International Macroeconomics to figure out these questions myself). But still supporting local industry is still better than seeing money flow out of the count(r)y.

  7. I agree, buying local is going to become increasingly more important, even necessary. I’ll be interested to read your blog about this international macroeconomics lecture.

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