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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Corn is the SUV of plants

With Earth Dinner arriving soon, The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals is a needed read for all our readers. This book is so good we're going to focus on parts of it leading up to Earth Day. There is much to be learned.

First, Corn is the SUV of plants. Though it sounds strange, Michael Pollan makes a very compelling argument for this as he explains how energy intensive corn is. Corn is currently being produced at rates close to 200 bussells an acre. Our grandparents produced about 20 bushels an acre. Thank goodness for technology right? Well, the production rate of 200 bushels an acre has many hidden costs.

In this interview, Michael explains how corn drinks fossils fuels for production through its need for fertilizers mostly made from natural gas. Without considering the fossil fuel intake for transportation or distrubution, corn consumes about 1/4 to 1/3 a gallon of gasoline per bushel. 20% of fossil fuel consumption in the USA goes directly towards feeding ourselves.

Being from Iowa all of this information is very enlightening. This is a must read for everyone who cares about what they eat. I'm going to write more soon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

* RURAL COOL * Earth Dinner is approaching get to know your food.

Once a year we should all stop and appreciate where our food comes from. With the 36th celebration of Earth Day approaching on April 22nd the time is ripe. Earth Dinner was created to educate people on the origins of their food. This is especially important for city folk these days as their connections to the realities of what they eat are abstracted through all the processes humans use to sell food. Ideally you can celebrate with organically or sustainably produced foods. Connect with rural ways of life again by downloading sample cards from Organic Valley today.

Monday, April 03, 2006

* RURAL NEWS * London taken over by V for Vendetta style farmers.

Pissed off farmers are angry as all bloody hell. A pack of tractors will jam the streets of London as farmers protest the global economics of farming. Some blame U.S. farm subsidies for artificially supporting American agriculture. Where are the American farmers? Are things really that peachy here?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

* NEWS * The Rural World Has an End

It's kind of scary when the business community is finally waking up to the threats of global warming. The fact companies are finally taking notice is a sign that lifestyles as we know them may start changing soon.

Economics has traditionally considered the environment to be an externality. This means it's a constant variable (never ending) in an equation. What happens when economists realize that variable isn’t constant (the world is reaching it’s natural limits for human consumption)? Well, businesses start to get their panties in a bunch.

Listen to this article from marketplace and see how the Carbon Disclosure Project is a survey of some of the most powerful companies in the world. Four years ago many companies saw this project as another annoying environmental project. Less than half even responded to the survey then. Last year about 3/4 of the companies responded and even more will respond this year. This site is the largest registry of corporate greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

The disturbing thing about all of this is that companies are looking at global warming and trying to figure out how they can profit from it. This makes sense in an economic sense but remember the cost to the environment is ignored in all GDP numbers. This short sightedness must end as the environment has an end and we can't keep consuming it at current levels.

The concept of profiting from global warming may be one of the most disturbing concepts in the world today.

Monday, March 27, 2006

* RURAL CRIME * Drive by Dumping Only Increasing

If you’ve got an old mattress you need to get rid of what do you do? Pay to take it to the dump or drive out to the country and send it flying? The latter option is free and probably more exciting than paying someone to take your trash. Thrill seekers and cheep skates are both dumping their trash at a higher rate as dumping fees keep rising. This has a very negative effect on the environment and can easily be avoided.

Check out freecycle a non-profit group created to bring local areas together to find people who want your trash. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure; free cycle is the best forum for this bit of wisdom. Freecycle has kept the equivalent of Mt. Everest in trash from going to landfills. All you have to do is join a network near you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

* RURAL COOL * Become a Virtual Farmer

Just $50 makes you a North Dakota virtual farmer for one growing season!

Farming by the Yard is a unique concept where you can be a "virtual farmer" of one square yard of North Dakotan land. This concept is similar to other forms of rural tourism with a bit of a reality show twist. The idea is to get you inside the tractor seat virtually.

Some might ask who would pay $50 just to claim a measly square yard of land?

Well, it's a way to live the farm life without all the inconvenient lifestyle issues of actually farming. Think about how romantic it is to tell people you are a virtual farmer. Surely all your friends and neighbors will grow envious. You don't meet many virtual farmers. Though, that may change soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

* RURAL NEWS * Fight back against rapid sub-urbanization with Google Earth!

Google continues to change power & playing fields with its technology. Finally there is the potential for the small guy (rural folk in place or heart) to fight against the ever-invading desires of developers and over indulgent capitalists. Sprol.com is an amazing example of this as the site documents the "Worst Places In The World" via Google Earth.

You can see industrial destruction, strip mining, poisons, and many more enticing atrocities. Using the same concept we did a quick search to find the worst sprawl in America and found the intriguing images you see here. If you want a better way to classify sprawl we recommend
A Field Guide to Sprawl. Go & find land use atrocities near you!