Jan 24, 2009

The Invasive Species Diet

Diet is huge in ecology. Predators, prey, produce. Diet is huge in ecological lifestyles. Slow food, local food, organic food, vegetarian food. I like all these movements and count myself an adherent of each to some degree. I’m personally most committed to vegetarianism, which is as much a spiritual expression of my devotion to animals as an ecologically motivated lifestyle. Whatever moves you, right?

I have a wicked, smart friend who's largely motivated by ecological concerns. He loves all creatures but he likes to eat meat. Luke refers us to the ecological diet, which draws mostly from localism and slow food. Rez, another friend of mine, questioned the wisdom of his vegetarianism when living in Scandinavia, where he had to eat shipped, processed protein out of packages because you just cannot grow the grains and veggies to sustain yourself all year. Yeah, you’re not going to find me telling Norwegians that they should be vegan because that’s probably not sustainable on a mass scale. You also won’t find this snowophobe in Scandinavia or any other place that’s going to force me to choose sustainability or vegetarianism. I’d be in constant conflict with myself.

In California, vegetarianism is logical, and more sensible than wasting water on alfalfa and irrigated pasture. I think by the time I get back to the bounty of California, I’ll be well over apples and carrots, ready for some GRAPES. In other words, Cali's a great place to be a vegetarian locavore.

When I think of the conditions under which I’d eat meat, I always return to game. Like most southern tomboys, I’ve been deer hunting, squirrel hunting, frogging, and fishing. I’ve skinned, scaled, and gutted my dinner. Under the tutelage of my dad and grandpa, this was easy as a youth. I have no regrets. Those animals lived free and died under somewhat natural predator-prey interactions. We ate the meat. I don’t like the deer head on my daddy’s wall. I hate the hooves that hold his gun. Trophies are weird. But yeah, hunting for meat, particularly the invasive white-tailed deer in the South, well that’s ok with me.

Ok, this is a long, evasive pre-amble to a new dietary fad that I’m advocating. Take it with a grain of local salt and note the disclaimer below.

The invasive species diet is a new ecological diet for those who want to bioremediate at dinner. You can do this as a vegetarian or omnivore, depending on your tastes. Luke inspired this brainwave with all his chatter about the ecological diet. Hell, if you want to eat for the environment, I’m suggesting you really get into it.

Eat weeds.

Blake was munching on nasturtium on New Years Day and you should too (if you’re in SF). I also recommend radish seeds (above the dog urine line), and fennel for cooking. If you can devise a recipe for French broom, you’re my hero. I'd derive such satisfaction from chopping it up and eating it after wrenching those taproots out of the ground. Think kudzu could be integrated into traditional southern delicacies? Has it ever been fried? Ideas for Rhodedendron?

Ok, for sure, not all invasives are actually edible. I'd be warry of putting something as evil as ehrharta into my body. I’d steer clear of advising people to eat Cape Ivy since it’s so easy to spread and this diet is truly about being a responsible consumer. And don’t sample the hemlock in SF either. It’s definitely poisonous. In fact, do your own research into what’s edible. And don’t plant weeds to eat them. Harvest them responsibly where they already exist instead. For instance, I’d leave some of even the Himalayan blackberries for the birds of SF.

And yeah, there are weedy animals out there … I’m sure this is going to be popular. When I was a kid, we had the tail of a grey squirrel in the kitchen drawer. Trophies are weird, but the point is, those critters are edible, and highly invasive in the UK. I’m not sure how you’d kill one in London as shooting them is out of the question in such a densely populated area, but get creative and humane. They’re chunky over here too, much more meat than in the southeast of the US. And the pigeons here look like chickens, maybe they’re not too diseased to eat? Then there are the goats of Wales. White tailed deer in large swaths of the US. Zebra mussels anyone? Pigs on nearly any island.

I’m almost serious here. Eat for the environment. Eat locally. Eat wild meat. Eat for habitat.
Eat invasive.

***** Do your own research. These plants and animals may not be invasive in your region, in which case, you shouldn’t eat them. They may kill you. Don’t consume the specifics of this piece: it’s an idea, not a menu. *******

Feb 8, 2006

Recent Queries


Here's a list of recent queries and the responses that the group tossed around--also some random tips and reminders thrown in:

-- What about new shoes for children and folks whose professional lives call for a great deal of walking (i.e., dogwalkers):

Acceptable as needed. The shoe exception has been made to support health and safety. It's not a loophole to buy Manolos. (And some of us throw orthopedic concerns to the wind for ourselves and our children, purchasing "like-new" used shoes. )

-- What about purchases required by our jobs or businesses?

Acceptable when necessary, but this exception should not be seen as an free pass to transact simply for the sensation.

-- Remember: Buying local is critical and should be followed whenever possible.

-- Tip: Food & wine are okay for gifts if you choose not to go for services or charitable donations. But food & wine are an important opportunity to shop & support local.

Jan 23, 2006

Kyoto Christmas (or Birthday)

Compacter RK created a very cool way to dodge holiday consumerism this past year with "Kyoto Christmas." She explains, "This year I'm not buying gifts but giving out coupons for the environment instead. This means that I'm doing something positive for the planet (and every living thing on it) in honor of the recipient.... Folks are getting into it so it becomes like Kyoto [global summit and treaty--get it?], we exchange credits for shower time, meat consumption, car usage, etc."

RK may compile a list of the clever "treaties" struck between Kyoto Christmas participants.

Recycled Art Show at SF Dump

Team Compact,

The Art Show at the Dump last Friday was awesome. The work by the latest resident artist was really terrific, and he assesmbled a huge array of found objects that he didn't use. The crowd at the opening was encouraged to scavenge through his cast-offs, and Ben came home with two red metal Tonka fire trucks (direct from our childhoods). Very cool.

We'd love to get a group together for a tour of the Dump Sculpture Garden (third Saturday of the month)--so maybe a Compact tour preceded or followed by lunch on Saturday, Feb. 25?

Jan 20, 2006

What About Wiper Blades?

Hey there compactors -I've been enjoying all the "chatter"We are the kind of security threats that Bush should be spying on - if our movement grows we could take this country down.But on a more realistic note - I need new windshield wiper blades. Does that count as a consumable item like shampoo?

Even When Traveling

From a new Compacter:

I'm preparing for a backpacking trip in Joshua Tree and procurring the necessities has been easy enough w/o buying anything new, and simply borrowing in many cases. Just need some maps but I have good lead on that.

Jan 6, 2006

New Year's Resolution

Greetings, Compact-wegians,
Tomorrow is the start of our 12-month flight from the consumer grid. To aid us all in getting started and sticking to the regime, I've compiled the guidelines we set in stone at our great dinner a few weeks back.
As agreed, The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):
1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
So, here goes for the rules:
  • First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • Second principle - borrow or buy used.
  • A few exceptions - using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:
    • food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments like Viagra or Botox)
    • necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
    • socks and underwear (utilitarian--non-couture or ornamental)
    • pajamas for the children
  • Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) -- Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
  • Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification
  • Charitable contributions (Seva, Heifer, and the like) - an even better source for gifts
  • Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation (yo, incoming oxy) when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)--and again, within reason
  • Art supplies - First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses
  • Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online
  • V ideo rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please
      Some resources
      For fresh produce:
      • Terra Firma (like The Box, but community supported agriculture, entirely sourced from Yolo County farms.)
      For secondhand purchases and for recycling/donating:
      For spiritual support and guidance
      Please pool other great sources you find this year.