What is Food?

Hi all,

Today I wanted to talk about what food is. Food is the stuff we eat, right? But just because we CAN physically eat something, does that make it food? We don’t chomp on tree trunks, even though we probably could.

Some people eat tree bark, bugs, whale fat, pigs’ feet. This might seem a bit odd to some, but these are foods that are staples in some cultures (not to mention – full of nutrients!)

Others eat hard candy, twinkies, soda, and ultra-processed meats. These are pretty common in Standard American culture, but totally unheard of in some parts of the world. But what exactly is it about these products that make us accept them as edible?

Do you recognize any of these Korean dishes?

To me, food is digestible earth or earth product, like plants and animals. I’d argue that 99% of the food humans eat comes from the earth, while the other 1% comes from a lab (but yes, even the lab was produced because the earth made it possible).

The specific food one person eats is determined by their connection to the outside world, other people and history. Shared commonalities impact the choices people make about what they swallow. Therefore, genetically modified corn, those twinkies and candy, and pink-sludge meat can all be considered food. It may not be a “quality” food in some corners of the world, but it is ingested by communities, often joyously.

What is food to you? Do you eat anything that might seem weird to others?

What are your thoughts about how food has evolved in our modern world?

That’s all for now!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Thermal Power Plants – The Main Plant

Thermal power plants (TPPs) are significant because they are the main way that we make electricity in the world.

TTPs can be fueled by numerous sources, including but not limited to – coal, nuclear gas, solar, water, and geothermal.

In simple terms, the fuel is started on fire in an incinerator room, making heat. That heat in turn boils water, in a boiler room. The steam from the heated water is directed towards a turbine, at a high pressure. The turbine is made up of fan blades that spin and that spinning motion then spins a generator.

The generator is what creates electricity by turning the kinetic (motion) energy into electric energy, aka electricity.

TPPs also have a smokestack, which is how the hot gases and debris escape the plant and float into the air and atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter are the main components of these gases and debris.

Emissions equipment is being used more and more, however, to capture these gases and debris to contain and potentially reuse them in some way.

Finally, there is the condenser or cooling tower. This unit turns leftover steam into water. The water may be reused or put back into the environment.

The thermal power plant is the most prevalent mode of creating electricity. Click here to check out a map of all the thermal power plants that exist in America.

Have you ever visited one? What do you think about the way we make electricity?

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Bone Broth Basics

Today I wanted to give you some basic information on bone broth. I’ve recently been dabbling with how to make it and LOVING the results. The flavor and ease is everything.

The only really ingredients you’ll need is some sort of animal bone. My favorite tip is to use leftover chicken carcass (oh yeah, put that waste to use!). A stewing hen is also PERFECT for making broth. You maybe also want something with a nice source of collagen, like chicken feet or beef shanks.

I also soak the bones and water in apple cider vinegar for a while to better extract the minerals.

Next up is the veggies. Carrots, celery & onion. Add a handful of fresh parsley, some salt, and you’re done! Easy peezy. Just add water to cover all the ingredients.

Let all the ingredients simmer for a few hours and you have wayyy better than store bought broth.

I’d recommend trying to source all of your ingredients from credible, local farmers. No pesticides, herbicides, or filthy cages.

Pasture raised, with no antibiotics is best. Eatwild.com is a great resources to find such providers.

Here’s a simple chicken broth recipe from the Heal Your Gut Cookbook by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett:

Enjoy! Let me know how your broth turns out 🙂

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

What’s So Bad About Food Waste, Anyways?

Agricultural activities -whether conventional or not- require labor and energy. There are many factors to consider that go into putting food on our plates. Human labor, water usage, refrigeration, transportation, processing, storage, cooking fuels, etc.

The website https://moveforhunger.org/food-waste is dedicated to reducing hunger and writes on the costs of agriculture, “more than 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agricultural activities”. To make matters worse, Tristram Stuart (2012) bluntly reveals, “we’re not talking about rotten stuff, we’re not talking about stuff that’s beyond the pale. We’re talking about good, fresh food that is being wasted on a colossal scale”.

There is plenty of space to improve our environmental footprint with these facts. But instead, our society has developed this habit of wasting food, which, as the website puts it, “is to needlessly contribute to climate change”.

Essentially, we are polluting our airways with tons of greenhouse gases just so we can fill our trash cans.

When these foods do end up in landfills, the results are straight toxic. Rotting food, which makes up an immense proportion of our overall waste, produces a noxious amount of methane. Author Dana Gunders (2012) discusses this issue further, “food scraps decompose and give off methane, a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more powerful in global warming as carbon dioxide… [food scraps] produce a disproportionately large component of the methane that landfills produce in the first years, often before the landfills are capped”.  

We grow TONS of food, way more than what is actually needed to feed the world. Humans love surplus, but that comes at a cost. Furthermore, this overload of food STILL does not feed everyone.

Does this look familiar?

For example, if a grocery store donates food every night, not all people will be able to access it because they might lack transportation, desire for certain food, or awareness. Creating ways for people to access food is one thing, but providing them with substantial, culturally appropriate food is another layer to the task. To name just one example, people may not be accustomed to cooking with “imperfect” food and may require additional education on how to use such products.

We cannot expect people to stop being hungry once we decrease factors like production or waste because we currently have a tremendous amount of food available, yet there are still people experiencing food insecurity. To make a difference, we must consider the economic and societal factors that affect food security, like income disparities and feelings of shame, not just food availability.

According to an organization called ReFed, Imperfect & Surplus Produce, Portion Sizes, and Manufacturing Byproduct Utilization are solutions that contribute to reducing emissions (https://insightsengine.refed.com/solution database?dataView=total&indicator=jobs-created).

The three variables are each fairly relevant in reducing the tons of food waste, which as per the previously answered question, equates to a decrease in methane gas as a greenhouse gas. Portion Size is the largest contributor to emissions reduction, and a great influence on water savings, as per the study findings posted.

My main intent for this post is to give you some information of why exactly food waste is so bad for our surroundings (we aren’t just wasting food – but also labor, energy, time, resources, etc. that could have been used in some other way). There’s a reason wasting food is seen as a sin in some cultures.

Before you throw it in the trash, think about how you can use it! Check out Too Good to Go on Instagram, they have some amazingly creative tips on how to reduce food waste. I’ll also be doing a review on Too Good to Go as a company in a future post!

What are your favorite ways to reduce food waste? Let us know below!!!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Resources

Gunders, Dana. (2012) Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food

from Farm to Fork to Landfill. Natural Resources Defense Council 12-06-B

Stuart, Tristram. (2012) The global food waste scandal. Ted. Youtube. Retrieved from:

Pssst. Totally recommend giving this video a listen to. Enjoy!

Contact Your Representative – The Why & How

Hi all.

As some of you may know, I encourage writing to your state and local representatives often.

This is because I believe if enough people tell government what they want (especially if the writer is a registered voter) then the law official just might be swayed.

How are our representatives going to know how to represent them if we don’t tell them? Voting is one way, but most ballots do not touch on every concern specifically, and you can only vote less than a handful of times a year.

For the most part the letter writing is easy. Here’s a VERY brief outline you can follow every time you’re writing to government:

Hello,

My name is ____. I am a registered voter in ____ and my address is ____. I would like to urge you to support/oppose ____ because ____.

Thank you.

Obviously this is bare bones and you can add as much as you want, but I’d recommend still keeping it short and to the point because, like most, these people are busy.

The hardest part of this is locating your representatives and their contact information. Once initial leg work is done, though, you’re good to for a few years.

For contacting local representatives my favorite tool is www.commoncause.org

For national leaders, use www.house.gov

When we affect what happens in government buildings, we affect what happens in our neighborhoods, on our roads, in our lives. Let them know what you care about!

If you have other resources you like to use, please let us know in the comments! And, if you do reach out to officials, let us know, too. You might just be an inspiration to someone to do the same.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Eutrophi-what? Eutrophication

Hi all.

Okay. This is one of my favorite topics. Not because it is positive, but because not many people know about eutrophication.

In simplest terms, eutrophication is when bodies of water fill up with excess nutrients and minerals. This might sound great at first- what’s wrong with more nutrients, right?

However, plant life (algae) overgrows to extremes. This algae buildup is referred to as an “algal bloom” and is a seriously thick layer of algae. The algae not only blocks vital sunlight from entering to the underside of the water, but it also sucks up all of the oxygen in the water. Without oxygen, a “hypoxic” environment is created, and life cannot survive. Furthermore, drinking water quality is at risk. Yikes.

This picture is a modest example of algal blooms due to nutrient input via the conventional agriculture and fertilizer industries.

How do all these nutrients end up in the water? Well, mainly from fertilizers and heavy tillage which causes erosion.

When soil is tilled (and in conventional ag it is tilled extensively) the soil becomes weak and subject to the elements. Add fertilizer to the soil, and when wind or rain occurs, that soil and fertilizer flows right into bodies of water with ease. Conventional farmers often account for this erosion and add even MORE fertilizer to their land so that the extra that does not erode into water bodies will stay on their land.

Not only is this an issue for our soil reserves, but this is exactly what causes eutrophication aka dead zones in the water!

So, what can we do? For one, stop using chemical fertilizers on your own land. Opt instead for building your own nutrient dense compost, or heck, buy some cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats or whatever else and use the dung for nutrients! This in turn will also help build the soil and anchor it in its place.

Speaking of which, to stop erosion, you can plant native species that are adept to the conditions of your environment. Consider plants with exceptional root systems that work as an anchor on the soil. And, as always, contact your state and local representative and urge them to support policy against heavy fertilizer usage.

Clearly, I could talk about this forever! But to keep this short and sweet, I’ll end this here and leave some resources for you to check out down below.

Before we go, what are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced eutrophication in your area? Let us know in the comments!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Resources

National Ocean Service: What is Eutrophication?

MDPI Open Access Journals: Agriculture and Eutrophication. Where do we go from here?

Science Direct: Eutrophication

Rags to Riches

Hi all.

So, as is obvious from the title of this blog, I am going to share with you the superiority of rags over paper towels.

I’ve been a barista for a few years, and we always used rags (we called them bar towels to be fancy). I loooooved a nice, fresh rag, and using them at work inspired me to start using them at home.

Rags clean up tough messes easier than paper towels, I don’t feel guilty for using a ton, and they are more environmental and economically sound. Obviously, paper towels require tree removal. They are wrapped in plastic (oil), must be transported (oil), and end up in landfills after their short lifespan.

Paper towels are expensive. The price on Amazon for a 12 pack is about $26, and at Walmart they are a whopping $42 for a similar package. Let’s say a family goes through 12 rolls every three months, over five years that is an average of $680! All for paper towels… yikes.

This is where rags come into to truly save the day.

A 24-pack of rags costs only $20 on Amazon, but I’d recommend buying at least four packs – so you’re looking at about $80. I’ve had my rags for over two years, and they are still in great condition (albeit with a few stains, nothing major). You can also try sourcing 100% sustainable cotton rags. Comment below with some recommendations! 🙂

I keep my rags in a cute little basket on my kitchen counter and wash them about once, maybe twice, a month. When you consider that you’ll have to use water and energy to wash them regularly, you’ll likely spend only about $200 over a five-year period.

All in all, a $500ish savings over five years might not sound like much, but it can be the difference between affording a few quality pairs of shoes, a memorable mini vacation, or painting the interior of your home.

Plus, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you aren’t wasting paper and contributing to the degradation of forests around the world.

Do you use rags at home? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

That’s all for now!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Bigger Is Not Always Better – A Cautionary Proverb

Big Tech allows us to compose and share information like this very document.

Big-Box Retail supplies a plethora of seemingly important products from ankle bracelets to zero gravity lawn chairs virtually in an instant.

Big Retail is ubiquitous in most of America. How does this impact society?

Big Pharma, while extremely controversial, brings longevity to lives that would previously be stunted.

Big Business operates on an ambitious scale, and often internationally. Some well-known Big Businesses are Google, General Motors, or Tyson, and these are only a sprinkle of the Big Industries alive today.

While these massive entities allow for unimaginable feats, they degrade the integrity of humanity’s primal processes due to their incredible impact on our daily lives. We are distracted, unable to provide for ourselves basic necessities without the help of people thousands of miles away, and compulsively spend our money on things we only think we need.

We have lost the art of conversation, forgotten how to teach our children how to bake bread, and have become violently dependent on drugs prescribed by a doctor with an agenda.

All the while, our infamous big government supports the means of these industries. Society must ask themselves, “What options are we left to face?” or “Where does society go from here and how?” While the answers are not obvious, we can speculate that the public, or masses of common people, must bind together to create solutions demanding the government’s cooperation since we are all involved and responsible for this reality.

We can certainly discover the unintended injustices caused by Big Business like the disequilibrium of the economic system, deskilling of humanity due to the low level labor takeover (with little room for growth), and neglect of our natural resources.

We must also consider how to correct these injustices by using processes involving specialized education systems and the use of a mandatory business model that ensures industries operate accordingly for the integrity of the entire societal system.

What are your thoughts on Big Business? How do you feel you are affected by such massive enterprises? Are they not so bad? Please share!

And always remember:

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Don’t Abide by the Pesticide


Who doesn’t enjoy biting into a
juicy strawberry or slurping on an orange
slice? The sweet yet sour flavors make
these fruits a staple in most American
diets, and they are especially popular
among youngsters. 🍓🍊

Yet, the mass
production of these delightful fruits
comes at a cost – the usage of herbicides
and pesticides.

For most conventional (and even some organic!) produce, this is a very familiar sight.

At this point in time, the
dangerous, life-threatening effects (especially for agricultural workers) of using chemicals on the produce we eat is well-known. Cancers, disruptions to our endocrine (hormonal), nervous, and immune systems, and more are all exacerbated by sprayed chemicals. These “cides” are also a burden to our environment.

So, these are the dangers. But what can we do?

Well, first off, we can grow these yummy berries or citrus foods right in our own backyard! That way, we know exactly what is being applied, in what quantity, and for how long.

If this is not possible, then consider buying organic if that is within budget (I have found organic is sometimes cheaper, especially when selecting in-season fruits or vegetables). You can also reach out to you state and local representatives urging them to support legislation against heavy chemical use on our food. Finally, consider eating some of the “Clean” (or least contaminated by fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides) fruits and vegetables, like pineapples, papayas, or kiwi.1

Our gut microbiome can stay resilient to harmful bacteria or viruses when it is not inundated with pesticides and other chemicals. A healthy gut means a
healthy and happy life!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany


Resources: (1) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

Food Animal Concerns Trust

Hi all.

Just wanted to take the time to share this message from the Food Animals Concerns Trust.

If you care about your health, animal welfare, or the environment, then you should totally check out this organization!

Enjoy 🙂

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany